LOUDON ' S SUBURBAN HORTICULTURIST.
THE object of this work is extensive. It is intended to embrace all that " is useful for the possessors of small gardens, whether in town or country, at home or abroad, and whether they belong to the retired citizen, the clergyman, the farmer, the mechanic, the labourer, the colonist, or the emigrant." And it purports to contain all that is necessary both in principle and practice, both in science and art, to enable a person to understand whether his garden is properly cultivated by his gardener, or to direct its cultivation himself.
The arrangement of the book corresponds with the extensive design ; perhaps reminding one of the variety of knowledge VITRU inns required in an architect, and that he should, among other things, be skilled in the civil law, that he might not be cheated in the title of the ground on which he was to build. Mr. Lonnon opens his work with a general view of the principles on which horticulture is founded : he then proceeds to the physiology of plants, and exhibits a pretty complete system of botany ; for though his examples are limited to garden-plants, the laws relating to them are of a general kind. The soil and the atmosphere are next considered, first in their natural characters, then with regard to their improvement by art. An examination of insects, birds, and animals, in their bearing upon gardening, follows; and a brief view of the diseases of plants and their remedies completes the first part. The second part embraces the implements, structures, and operations of horticulture, from the spade, the knife, and the wicker-basket, up to the most elaborate contrivances of the tool- maker or the expensive luxury of the pinery, and from the simple task of digging to the most delicate and difficult operations. The third part treats of culture proper—laying out the garden, selecting and distributing the fruit-trees, and the general manage- ment of natural and artificial growths.
All this, extended through upwards of seven hundred pages, will not, however, suffice to enable one to have a suburban garden. Suburban Horticulture requires a trilogy for its exhibi- tion ; of which The Suburban Architect and Landscape Gardener is the beginning, telling how to build our villa and lay out its grounds ; the work before us, teaching how to cultivate edible products, is the middle ; and the Suburban Floriculturist, or de- corative gardener, will form the end. The quantity of typogra- phical matter contained in these three books will be equal to a dozen octavo volumes, such, for example, as the handsome edition of ADAM SMITH'S Wealth of Nations edited by M'Cum.ocu. It is obvious that such a trilogy must require a long time even to read it ; but to study it with a view to practice, must be a task such as men only undergo with a view to a profession. How far three such elaborate treatises are attainable, or usable, by some of the persons whom Mr. LOUDON professes to write for—as " the farmer, the mechanic, or the labourer "—may be questioned; and probably a much smaller book, embracing only the pith of such cultivation as they are likely to carry on, might have been more useful. Whether the dictum of the ancient sage, that a great book is a great evil, holds true as regards the rich amateur, must depend upon whether the rich amateur reads like the ancient sage and exhausts all that is in a work. It may be a truism to say that there is in every scientific treatise all the knowledge which the author put there, but it is a truism little attended to. The grammar of a language, for example, may be put into very little compass, and be who thoroughly masters it may ceteris paribus be as good a grammarian as the author himself. But minds, like stomachs, can- not feed on essences ; the stomach cannot, and the mind will not, be at the labour of digesting pure nutriment. The " general " reader, who skims superficially over a book, picks up something here and there, but leaves a vast quantity of matter behind; so that, for many people, a great book may be an advantage, for by going over a larger space the reader picks up more than he would in a smaller one, and some works of condensed science he would not read at all.
This is more especially the case where the book, like Mr. Lou- DON'S Suburban Horticulturist, is interesting in its general views to those who feel no vocation to gardening ; whilst its technical parts are so distinctly marshalled, that the amateur or practitioner can turn at once to the particular information he is in search of. Besides a thorough knowledge of the subject, and the fulness of matter which results from it, together with a style perfectly distinct and not unattractive from its clearness and closeness, Mr. Lounmes book derives an interest from his exhibition of the principles on which every thing rests. If he describes a common tool, he shows the philosophical reasons for its form, and for the best manner of using it ; if he gives directions for any particular operation, the botanical, atmospheric, or any or all of the laws on which the rule is founded, are presented to the reader. By this means, breadth of view and largeness of interest are imparted to the smallest matters; which cease to appear insignificant when they are connected with the illustration of a law of nature or of science. What adds to this attraction is, that the principles often exhibit felicitous applications of philosophy to utility, or curious instances of natural wonders. But a few extracts will exemplify our meaning better than we can describe it.
A CHEAP SCIENTIFIC DEFENCE.
A very ingenious substitute for this utensil [the annular saucer] has lately been invented by Mr. Walker, of Hull. It is founded on the galvanic prin- ciple of alternate plates of zinc and copper producing a galvanic shock, and is therefore called the galvanic protector. Take slips of zinc four or five inches in breadth, in order to enclose the plant or bed to be protected, as with a hoop; but in addition to the mere rim or frame of zinc, rivet to it, near the upper edge, a strip of sheet-copper one inch broad, turning down the zinc over this so as to form a rim composed of zinc, copper, and zinc. The deterring effect is pro- duced by the galvanic action of the two metals ; and thus, when the snail or slug creeps up the rim of zinc, it receives a galvanic shock as soon as its horns or head touch the part where the copper is enclosed, causing it to recoil or turn back. A more beautiful application of science in the case of deterring insects is rarely to be met with, and it will not coat more than 6d, a lineal foot.
Insects, like other animals, derive their nourishment from the vegetable and animal kingdoms; but a glance is sufficient to show that they possess a much wider field of operations than the others. While the other animals make use or their subsistence of only a small portion of the inexhaustible treasures of the vegetable kingdom, and reject the rest as insipid or noxious, the insects leave perhaps no vegetable production untouched. From the majestic oak to the invisible fungus or the insignificant wall-moss, the whole race of plants is a stupendous meal, to which the insects sit down as guests. Even those plants which are highly poisonous and nauseating to other animals are not refused by them. But this is not yet all. The larger plant-consuming animals are usually limited to leaves, seed, and stalks : not so insects, to the various fami- lies of which every part of a plant yields suitable provender. Some, which live under the earth, attack roots ; others choose the stem and branches; a third division live on the leaves; a fourth prefers the flowers; while a fifth selects the fruit or seed.
THE SPINE OF PLANTS.
In all vertebrate animals there is a part at the back of the neck, between the spinal marrow and the brain, where a serious injury will occasion immediate death. There is a corresponding point in plants, between the root and the stem, which is called the neck, or collar ; and at this point pleats may be more readily injured than anywhere else. Most plants, also, may be killed by covering this point too deeply in the soil. In all seedling plants, this neck or vital part is immediately beneath the point where the seed-leaves originate ; and if the plant be cut over there when in a young state, the part which is left in the ground will infallibly die. In all plants, however, and particularly in herbaceous plants which have creeping stems, and also in various kinds of trees and shrubs, the roots, after the plant has attained a certain age, become fur- nished with adventitious buds; and, when the plant or tree is cut over by the collar, these dormant buds are called into action, and throw up shoots, which are called Backers. No suckers, however, are ever thrown up by the roots of a plant cut through at the collar while in its seed-leaves. The branches of a tree may be all cut off close to the trunk, and the roots also partially removed; but, if the collar remain uninjured, the plant, in suitable soil and under favourable circumstances, will throw out new roots, and in time will completely recover itself. On the other hand, if the collar is cut off, the stem or trunk is left without roots, and the roots without a stem, or the power (in general) to throw up one. There are some plants of the herbaceous kind, (such as the horse-radish, for example,) that do not suffer even if their collar should be buried two feet, or even three feet : but by far the greater number of plants, (such as the hepatica, the common daisy, the common grasses, &c.) are killed by having the collar covered two or three inches ; and nothing is more injurious to woody plants, whether large or small. It is easy to destroy a large tree, by heaping up earth round the base of its trunk; and easy to prevent a small one from growing, by lift- ing it and planting it six inches or a foot deeper than It was before. Hence the great importance of not planting any plant deeper in the soil than it was before taking it up; and hence also the reason why trees planted in deeply-trenched ground, and especially fruit-trees, often disappoint the planter. In planting
these trees, the soil immediately under and about them is more consolidated by treading and watering than the soil in the other parts of the plantation ; and hence it soon sinks below the general level ; to maintain which level, the gar- dener fills up the depression every year, till the collar of the tree becomes buried several inches beneath the surface.
NAMES OF VARIETIES.
In general, the names of culinary vegetables and fruits bear the name of the person who raised them, with the place where they were raised, with or without the additition of some adjective expressing their properties—as Forest's Large Upsal Cabbage, Reid'ii New Goldeu Pippin, &c. The names applied to varie- ties of gooseberries, florists' flowers, and roses, are for the most part given in honour of individuals: sometimes they indicate a quality—as Brown's Scarlet Verbena ; and sometimes they imply superiority or a challenge—as the Top- Sawyer gooseberry, or Cox's Defiance Dahlia. The Dutch give their florists' flowers many high-sounding titles, which appear at first sight ridiculous ; but in giving them they intend at once to compliment their patrons, and to describe something of the nature of the flower : thus—the letters W., Y., 0., R., C., P., V., B., 8ce., when capitals, are understood to mean white, yellow, orange, red, crimson, purple, violet, blue ; and hence, when a flower is named William the Conqueror, or Wonder of Constantinople, its colours are understood to be white and crimson ; Charming Phillis, crimson and purple; British Rover, blue and red, &e. It is always desirable to know the meaning of a name, or even to know that it has no meaning ; in the former case some positive ideas are obtained, and in both the memory is assisted.
A HINT TO GARDEN-OWNERS.
So long as the fruit is green, it possesses to a certain extent the physiological action of a leaf, and decomposes carbonic acid under the influence of light ; but as soon as it begins to ripen, this action ceases, and the fruit is wholly nourished by the sap elaborated by the leaves. Thus the fruit has, in common with the leaves, the power of elaborating sap, and also the power of attracting sap from the surrounding parts. Hence we see, that where a number of fruits arc grow- ing together, one or more of them attract the sap or nutriment from all the rest, which in consequence drop off. As the food of the fruit is prepared by the leaves under the influence of solar light, it follows that the excellence of the fruit will depend chiefly on the excellence of the leaves; and that if the latter are not sufficiently developed, or not duly exposed to the action of the sun's rays, or placed at too great a distance from the fruit, the latter will be diminu- tive in size, and imperfectly ripened, or may drop off before attaining maturity. Hence the inferiority, of fruits which grow on naked branches, or even on branches where there is not a leaf close to the fruit ; as in the case of a bunch of grapes, where the leaf immediately above it has been cut off, or in that of a gooseberry, where the leaf immediately above it has been eaten by a caterpillar. Hence it is evident, that the secretions formed by the fruit are principally de- rived from the matter elaborated in the leaf or leaves next to it ; and as the sap of all the leaves is more or less abundant according to the supply received from the roots, the excellence of fruits depends ultimately on the condition of the roots, and the condition, position, and exposition of the leaves.
A "FORTUNATELY SIMPLE PROCESS." A "FORTUNATELY SIMPLE PROCESS."
To destroy worms is fortunately a very simple process ; for such is the ten- derness of their skin, that watering them with any caustic or bitter liquid de- prives them of life in a few minutes. The cheapest caustic liquid is lime-water; which is made by dissolving quicklime, at the rate of half a pound of lime to twelve pints of water, and letting it stand a few minutes to clear. Before pouring it on the soil from a watering-pot with a rose on, the worm-casts ought to be removed; and the effects of the water will soon become obvious, by the worms rising to the surface, writhing about there, and in a few minutes dying. To hasten their death, some more lime-water should be poured on them after they come to the surface.
The work is profusely illustrated by cuts; yet, profuse as they are, the text sometimes refers us to other works by Mr. LOUDON — a reference which, in so bulky a book, should have been avoided. Mr. LOUDON pronounces the Suburban Horticulturist the best of his works upon gardening ; not merely because it contains all the latest improvements and discoveries, but because he has been assisted by some of the most eminent horticulturists in the kingdom, either by the revision of his writing or by their own contributions.