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.
Following this is a second house of Vines that were started with heat at the end of January. Here the fruit is still quite green, but will probably be ripe about the end of June. The produce is heavy, and all that could be desired. The sorts in this house are the Muscat Hamburg, Black Hamburg, and Buck-land Sweetwater. This is again succeeded by another house of later Vines, that is left to start in the spring without the aid of artificial heat, and which will carry fruit for the table until the end of November. Here pot Vines are again brought into requisition. As the lower portion of the house is filled with young ones only, that do not cover the roof, a shelf has been erected through the centre of the house, and upon this was placed a row of fine young canes in pots, that, being full of fruit, effectually utilise the whole of the glass. These will not be required next year, as the permanent Vines will then cover the whole surface. In this house is that highly-flavoured Grape, the Duchess of Buc-cleuch; also two late Grapes, Mrs Pince's Black Muscat and Lady Downes; and inarched upon the Black Prince, that new and superb Grape, the Mad-resfield Court; this will fruit next year. Still another and last vinery, used expressly for later work.
This house, like the preceding one, has received as yet the aid of no artificial heat, but will have that assistance when the fruit is beginning to colour. The sorts are Lady Downes and Muscat of Alexandria - the best of all our white Grapes - and the bunches are very fine and promising. They are allowed to hang here, for the winter supply, until the 1st of February, when the bunches are cut, with a good portion of the branch attached, the cut end of the latter being immediately sealed with wax, to prevent the exhaustion of the sap. These bunches are carefully hung in the fruit-room, and keep well and furnish a supply of Grapes till the next forced crop is ready for use.
The Pine-Apple is always in season at Mottisfont. Two large pits are devoted to its early culture, and also a large stove for fruiting it in. As soon as a fruit is cut, another plant is put into its place, and thus the supply is incessant. The kinds chiefly grown are the Queen, Black Jamaica, Providence, and the Cayennes. The fruit now ripening are fine samples, and Mr Jones's successes as a Pine-grower have often been attested at fruit exhibitions far and near. Another early fruit is the Fig, that has a house devoted to its culture. Here the back wall is quite covered with a fine tree of Lee's Perpetual, that yields three crops during the year, the first of which was ready for gathering on the 6th of May. This early crop is borne on the old wood of last year, the second from the first young growth, and this growth being stopped, another growth and crop follow. At the end of the house, and in the bed of it, are others planted, and amongst them are standing some very forward Peach-trees in pots, full of fruit, that will speedily yield the first gathering of this delicious fruit.
Melons are planted out in pits at Christmas, and first cut from during May. Other pits or frames are also filled for succession, and the supply of this fine fruit is continued until the end of the year. The sorts in cultivation this year for the earliest are Golden Queen and Bousie's Incomparable, both green-fleshed varieties; and for succession, Broadland's scarlet-fleshed and Malvern Hall.
Strawberries in pots are grown extensively, reaching in number from 800 to 1000. The earliest are Black Prince and Keen's seedling, followed by Trollope's Victoria and Sir Charles Napier. These are grown upon shelves in nearly all the fruit-houses, every available space being utilised. The first gathering was on the 3d of March, 40 lb. having been produced by the end of May, and the pickings are continued until the crops out of doors are ready. As soon as these pot plants have done fruiting, they are planted out in rows in the kitchen-garden, where they fruit the succeeding year, after which they are removed for a vegetable crop. The annual produce under this system is enormous, the life of a Strawberry plant here being what might be termed a short and prolific one.
A Peach-house has a fine tree of Royal George covering the back wall, and two Elruge Nectarines and a Violet Hative Peach upon a semicircular trellis in the front. This house is started during December, and ripens its fruit in June. The trees are the picture of health, and full of promise. Cucumbers are grown in pots in the Pine-stove all the winter through, and with the aid of those in frames in the summer an inexhaustible supply is furnished. The Horton Prolific and Telegraph are mostly grown. In front of the Pine-stove some pot Vines from eyes are coming on; these are for fruiting next winter. After the required height is reached, the points are stopped, and the rod swells to the full dimensions: they are then placed in the open air to fully ripen the wood.
The kitchen-garden is very extensive, and is entirely surrounded by walls that are covered with all the best kinds of fruit-trees literally loaded with fruit. So also are the trees in the open ground, and especially so a fine row of Pears, twenty-one in number, all of which are trained in a weeping form, and are about 9 feet in height and 7 feet in diameter. Vegetables of all descriptions are wondrous fine and abundant, and under some hand-lights were a lot of dwarf French Beans, to induce early fruiting; and on a warm border, fine well-filled pods of Sangster's No. 1 and Taber's Perfection Peas were ready for gathering. It is impossible to praise too highly the fine appearance of all the various departments, in or out of doors, at Mottisfont Gardens.
We cannot conclude this notice without alluding to the famous pollard Oak at Oakley, a small hamlet just at the extremity of the park. This tree has remarkable proportions, for at 5 feet from the ground the circumference of its trunk measures 32 feet, and a little higher there are the trunks of three huge limbs, bearing the marks of many a stout wrestle with the storms of bygone times. From these old trunks spring young and vigorous branches, in the full flow of youth and freshness, and resemble childhood linked to decrepid age. At the base of the tree, and all round it, is seen a curious development of growth, as it is circled with bark-like protuberances reaching in some instances 4 and 5 feet outwards from the base of the trunk, just as if there had been at some time or other a vegetative eruption, the excrescence partaking of the character of a woody lava that had welled up from the roots of the tree in past times. Within the trunk, which is so hollowed out by decay that but little else than the mere lining of the bark remains, a dozen men could congregate with the greatest ease.
The present vigorous growth of the branches (giving it the appearance in the distance of being a young tree) can perhaps be accounted for from the fact that a branch of the river Test (which is supposed to have been diverted from the parent stream by the "monks of old," in order to secure a supply of water immediately contiguous to the abbey, the Test being nearly a quarter of a mile distant) runs very near this old tree, and no doubt its roots have found their way to the bed of the stream. The district of Mottisfont is a very moist one, as it lies low in the valley of the Test, which at Romsey pours itself into the Southampton Water. 0. S.