Some trees on south walls may now require disbudding. This work should be done piecemeal, first taking off those shoots which are growing out from the walls, topping back the stronger ones, and where they are very thick, which may be at the top of the tree. The greater part of tree-work may be done while growth is going on. Young shoots may be trained over old ones destitute of wood-buds. Some object to spurring Plums, Apricots, etc, as it is supposed to bring the bearing-wood away from the wall; but such need not be the case, as when the buds growing nearest the wall are chosen, they may be kept in easily. We always prefer having some nice shoots left to fill up vacancies. Trees exposed to easterly winds should be protected judiciously, but not coddled so that the blooms and young wood may be kept from light and air. All arrears had better be brought forward without delay; better to do it late than that it should be neglected. There need be no hurry in tying up newly-planted trees, as they should be allowed to settle down at the roots; they are liable to be cut in the bark till the soil is solid at the base.
Shrubs may be planted if they are not into growth; plenty of room to the roots, and free soil placed among them, is necessary to success. Where a mulching of manure can be given before the surface-soil is placed in position, the shrubs will be greatly benefited and labour saved in watering. If the weather should set in dry, water must be given in liberal quantities; continued dribblings are worse than useless, but the syringe may be used after dry days over the foliage. Keeping the soil continually sodden about the roots of trees and shrubs while the weather is cold does great injury, as the roots are likely to perish. Shrub-cutting should be finished as early as possible. Large old evergreens when not well furnished with foliage are very unsightly, and are better cut down to make healthy growths. Lawns should now be kept well rolled and swept preparatory for scythe and mowing-machine. Beds should now be well turned up and broken, giving manure or fresh soil as may be necessary. Hardy plants for edgings, etc, may be planted as early as possible. Beet (Osborn's dark, alias Dell's) may be sown where it is wanted for dark colouring; some prefer planting it out from pots, but we never had it so fine as from sowing in the space where it was to remain.
When decorative plants are placed in flowerbeds or borders now, they should be arranged to suit other occupants.
Edgings of turf may be trimmed, but not in the way it is so often done, cutting the beds or walks out of all size, reducing the surface of turf; also walks are much injured by cutting turf away from the gravel, leaving a margin for weeds and worms. Place the line along, beat the edging out if it requires it, and then cut off any part which is out of proper bounds. Where turf has been unduly cut back, the earthy margin may be taken away, a quantity of gas-lime strewn along, and gravel made firm over it; worms and weeds will be less troublesome there, for one season. Let gravelling be finished as early as possible. All should now have a neat and orderly appearance.
Seeds of hardy annuals and perennials may be sown at once, if weather will allow; but many annuals, such as Virginian Stock, Nemophila, Shortia Californica, etc., do well sown late in May. Sow Asters, Stocks. Mignonette, Sweet Peas, for late work; the two former under protection. Chrysanthemums should be potted into larger pots; cuttings of them newly struck should not be allowed to starve for want of pot-room: keep the plants growing freely with plenty of air on the frames. Dahlias should be hardened off after they are rooted and growing; but this does not mean starving in small pots and being exposed to cold currents of frosty air. Get plenty of cuttings put in of bedding plants while there is yet time to get up stock. Plant out Gladiolus roots in rich soil; they may be placed in shallow boxes of earth and kept cool in the shade, with the view of keeping them back. Select a good stock of plants from the collection of bedding Pelargoniums, to be potted on for summer flowering; also Petunias, Salvia patens, Lobelias, Verbenas (free-growing kinds), shrubby Calceolarias; these grown in good turfy loam, rotten manure, leaf-mould, and sand, make a tine display when other plants are scarce.
Keep herbaceous Calceolarias, late Cinerarias, supplied with manure-water; good surface-dressings will help them much. Keep young plants of Cinerarias, Primulas, and Cyclamens, growing freely, but not in close temperatures. Seeds of these may be sown in light healthy soil; slugs are ready to devour them if allowed. Where young seedlings are being raised they may be examined by candle-light and the enemies may be found at their work of destruction. Keep hard-wooded plants growing freely, and admit fresh air when weather will allow; a damp stagnant atmosphere will do them much injury. Camellias, Cytisus, Acacias, Coronillas, Epacris, done flowering, may be encouraged to make free growth, using the syringe freely over them, and shutting up with sun-heat; pot such as may require it when free growth has commenced. Pelargoniums coming into flower may be benefited by manure-water and rich surfacings; but not till their flower-buds are formed. Late successions should be potted to larger sizes, staked out, and turned round to the light.
Keep decaying leaves off all plants, stir and clean surfaces of pots, water judiciously and liberally where drainage is good and roots plentiful. Newly-potted plants (except when very small pots are used) seldom require watering for some days after the shift: a moist, rather close atmosphere is better, the roots will thus lay hold of the new healthy soil ; but a cold drenching at the roots at once is a double check. Soil should be moist before it is used in the pots, and the ball of earth round the roots should also be in a moist healthy state; a dry hard ball at potting time is most injurious, if it does not kill the plant. Get boxes and cases ready for window-gardening; they may be filled with good turfy loam, resting on good drainage, and the plants arranged to taste, and grown on under protection till they are wanted. Look well after green-fly, thrips, and all other insects among plants. All plants requiring heat to grow them should now be potted, unless they are flowering or coming into flower; a mixture of peat, turfy loam, sand, and charcoal suits most of them.
It is a judicious practice, where young trees have been planted on walls or fences, to allow them to sink with the soil before training is performed; and now that dry weather may be expected (and probably March dust), these trees may be trodden firmly, the mulching adjusted, and training done at earliest convenience. Training, like many other operations, is a matter of taste - the methods are almost endless; but on walls of limited extent, if variety is wanted (as is often the case with proprietors of the amateur class), the extension system, as practised by some, cannot be recommended. Trees planted from 12 to 15 feet apart will meet the wishes of any class of cultivators; and if, for variety's sake, a cordon (upright) be put between each tree, a goodly collection may be grown. What we say might be done; we do not always advise its being put into practice. Rather get a selection of kinds, especially those which do well in the soil of the district, and which the climate suits. As an example, we visited the famous Dr Ro-den on the 12th inst., who is so successful in raising Strawberries and managing pyramid and dwarf Apple-trees. He has whole lines (from fourteen to twenty-eight) in his borders, of individual kinds, because his soil suits them better than others.
The ground is light and sandy; and to meet the difficulty, he lifts carefully and mulches till his trees are a mass of fibres, and then he troubles himself little in regard to seasons being cold, wet, or dry. Certainly his pyramids were as near perfection as may be met with. Apricots and Peaches he troubles little with, as these (we often have noted) fail with all the skill and manipulation experience can devise; and they seldom can be grown for profit where good suitable soil is not procurable. When the young trees are about to be trained, decide on the system : we have used many systems in years gone by, but probably fan-training is the best on walls. The side shoots should be kept down to the level desired, the centre ones cut back more or less, and all should be regulated to form three-fourths of a circle. Each shoot should be equidistant to begin with : the minor, or fruit-bearing wood, will be easily put in its place. I have long since abandoned the practice of much "cutting back." I often lay in full length the shoots as they come from the nursery, especially with Peaches and Apricots. Morello Cherries also do well almost uncut in winter pruning. In every case, for forming handsome trees, we prefer "maidens," and then there is comparatively little danger from canker.
Trees with snags are abominable; and we lately saw some trees in beautiful form almost ruined by cutting high above the wood-buds, leaving pieces to die off.
Horizontal training answers capitally for every kind of fruit we know : Pears, Plums, Peaches, and Apricots we have trained in this form with the view of reducing labour. Upright training is most easily accomplished by taking a shoot, straight right and left at proper distance above the ground (say a foot to 15 inches), and rub off all buds except those which are best placed and nearest to equal distance from each other. They can be led upright as straight as the use of rod or line can direct their course. Many trees may be seen every year vigorous, and plenty of fruit on them, when no such pains are expended on them, - precisely just as seed will vegetate in crooked drills, or no drills at all, and come to perfection as well as if the lines had been straight and equidistant; but for all that, the man of taste will have his seed-lines straight, and his trees as straight as gun-barrels, - and thus trained, with fruit-buds from base to apex, who would say that such work would not give pleasure 1 We know it does to many amateurs, and the correspondence we have on such matters with men who are hundreds of miles apart justifies our assertion.
I wish all practical men could do as they would in such matters.
Whatever remains unfinished, as formerly advised, we would urge the propriety of bringing to a close. Staking will require attention, as many will have experienced from the terrific gales which have visited us during the past season. Protection, whether by nets, wood or glass copings, or branches, should now be in position : keeping back the progress of vegetation by such protection is of great moment. If the trees are not in good condition at root, all such protection is expense and precious time thrown away. Though we have our walls, outside and inside, with such glass protection, we put little value on it. Having nets all round is an expense which we could hardly expect to pay for good crops of fruit. A little disbudding may be necessary in early localities : let the wood-buds offering to grow straight out be rubbed off. We generally rub out all which are not required, as soon as they can be detected, from fruit-buds; and when the latter are superabundant, we do not mind rubbing off a large number.
Weakly trees are far more likely to carry good crops by such a practice.