This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
The usual monthly meeting of this Association was held in the Templar Hall, Reform Street, on Friday evening the 7th ult. In the absence of the president, Mr J. D. Ker, Douglasfield, was called upon to preside. A paper on "The Phododendron" was read by Mr Robert Clark, Scotscraig Gardens. He opened his subject by giving some details of the rise and progress of the Rhododendron since it was introduced in the year 1656. The species introduced at this period was that known as hirsutum, which, for nearly one hundred years afterwards, was the only representative of the genus to be found in Britain. After glancing at a few of the most notable introductions and hybrids of late years, Mr Clark then spoke at some length on the native haunt of the Rhododendron. With a few exceptions they were clearly plants that loved the mountain air, being found in far the greatest variety, beauty, and profusion in the higher altitudes of mountainous districts. The Rhododendron too, it was shown, is naturally a moisture-loving plant, growing most abundantly in the damp rocky defiles of mountain-ranges; or, when their position was less favourable for root-moisture, the atmosphere was generally found to be damp, and the climate generally more humid. The character of the soil next claimed Mr Clark's attention.
Peat, he said, seemed to meet the natural requirements of the plant more than any other kind of soil; and this, he thought, showed the Rhododendron to be a "vegetarian," delighting in a vegetable diet. Loam or other soils, however, would also grow Rhododendrons to considerable perfection, if they were well treated in other respects. A few remarks on the general treatment of Rhododendrons brought Mr Clark's most interesting paper to a close.
Mr James Laird, Monifieth Nurseries, then read a paper on "Transplanting." In taking up his subject, Mr Laird referred to natural, varied, and curious means for insuring the distribution of plants, in the first place by seed-sowing. In this the wind played an important part. The feathered songsters of our fields and woods also did much to mix and spread the vegetation of our globe. Much of their food consisted of seeds which in many instances escaped injury in the process of digestion, and were often deposited in districts far remote from their original position. Transplanting was an artificial means of distributing plants at an advanced stage of their growth, so as to suit the re-quirements and taste of each individual operator. Mr Laird then spoke of the various devices used to assist in the removal of large and bulky trees, and mentioned some instances of enormous specimens being transported to great distances with the greatest success. He then passed on to the more practical part of his subject, and treated at some length of the proper seasons for transplanting, making some reference to the various arguments in favour of both spring and autumn planting.
His own opinion was, that spring planting in the case of evergreens, and autumn planting in the case of deciduous subjects, was perhaps the safest system. He had to admit, however, that much good argument had been used in favour of the reverse course. The preparation of the tree before removal, and the mode of carrying out the operation, were then referred to, with which, and other valuable hints, Mr Laird concluded his paper. A lively discussion followed.
Hearty votes of thanks were awarded the readers; and a like compliment being paid to the chairman, the meeting closed.
The ordinary monthly meeting of this Association was held in Reform Street Hall, on Wednesday evening, the 2d ult. The president, Mr Doig, Rossie Priory Gardens, in the chair. There was a full attendance of the members. Mr Brebner read a paper on the "Movements of Plants," being a resume of the contents of Dr Darwin's book upon that subject. He described his experiments in proof of the universality of the law of circumnutation in radicles, stems, leaves, and flowers, and showed the advantage to the plant of this movement. The modifications of this law in climbing and sleeping plants, and in plants when exposed to the influence of lateral light, were then described and discussed.
Attention was also directed to the peculiar sensitiveuess of the tip of the radicle to the action of gravitation, and to contact with solid bodies. It transmits a secret influence to the adjoining portion of the root, and thus acts as its guide along the course best calculated to enable it to extract nutriment from the soil. At the close of his paper, Mr Brebner expressed the hope that Darwin's researches and discoveries would stimulate gardeners to observe more carefully the wondrous processes which were going on in the vegetable world around them. The paper was illustrated by models and diagrams; and at the close, on the motion of the president, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to Mr Brebner. A seedling Apple was exhibited by Mr D. Mitchell, gardener to G. B. Simpson, Esq., Seafleld, Broughty-Ferry; also a hamper of Grampian Potatoes from Mr H. Johnstone, gardener to Thomas Gilroy, Esq., Tighudiun, Monifieth. The hamper consisted of fourteen tubers, weighing 19 lb., and the average produce per pole was 15 stones.