Old writers (I use the term with all respect), and some young ones, borrowing from them, generally advise, in beginning with a young Peach-tree, to train up several shoots, to pick out the sublaterals, and cut back at the winter pruning to 9 inches or 1 foot - and so on from year to year; and to prevent an outburst of superabundant vigour thereby induced the following season, and perhaps gumming, will further advise you to root-prune annually, until a balance is effected between root and top.

By this system good trees and fruit can be secured, I am aware; but another system has been coming into repute of late years, which, I think, possesses not only all the advantages of the old plan, but enables us to get large trees in about half the time, or less, that was formerly required, and consequently quick returns.

To give your readers an idea of this plan, I perhaps cannot do better than give the history of two Peach-houses here that were planted in 1866.

Our old early Peach-house was taken down for the purpose of erecting two better and larger houses on the same site. The old trees could not be used again, and as we would be without early Peaches while the young trees were growing, I had recourse to the plan I have alluded to, and which I shall call the "extension system of Peach-tree culture." The trees, with the exception of two which were got the year before, were brought from the nursery in the beginning of 1866. They each had from four to six strong immature shoots upon them, which were shortened back to about 1 foot, and the trees were planted permanently about the beginning of April, when the houses were furnished. From each of the cut-back limbs two or three shoots were trained, and these were encouraged not only to make all the growth they would in length, but all the sublaterals were also laid in that we could find room for, thereby expending the gross vigour of the main shoots, and at the same time laying in a stock of bearing-wood.

Instead of cutting away perhaps one-half or two-thirds of the season's growth at the winter pruning, as some recommend, we retained the whole of it, with the exception of some of the extreme points of the strongest shoots, which were cut off for the sake of preserving the symmetry of the tree. By this method we had trees at the end of the first season measuring from 6 to 7 feet across, and about 4 feet high, and filled with bearing-wood all over, and which bore about 12 dozen fruit the following year, though all the trees did not bear. This practice we have continued up till this date, never pruning in winter or pinching in summer, unless here and there occasionally, to preserve the balance of vigour or to shorten back a bare point.

For the last three years the two houses have been forced early and hard, and the trees have borne a crop every year. This season we gathered over 56 dozen Peaches and Nectarines, fine fruit, from the two houses, each 25 feet long, and containing four trees, two dwarfs and two riders, all trained under the roof over the glass - the riders being cut away as the dwarf fan-trained trees in front overtake them. The Peach-trees measure now generally about 15 feet across, and are 10 feet high, and more than fill the space allotted to them; had they had room they would have been more than 20 feet in diameter by this time. The Nectarines are a little less in size. Two or three of the trees have been root-pruned once since planting. We trust rather to the roots expanding their energies through their natural outlets - wood and fruit; though, now that the trees are forced early, and well-ripened wood an object, we do not lay in any sublaterals: indeed we do not find this necessary, as the trees produce sufficient bearing-wood without.

J. Simpson. Wortley Hall Gardens.

On Peach-Tree Training #1

My attention has been accidentally drawn to Mr M'Millan's strictures (page 541) upon my remarks on the above subject in the November number of the 'Gardener,' which call for a word from me. Intentionally or otherwise, Mr M'Millan thinks that I claim to be the discoverer of the system I advocated; to show that such is not the case, I recommend him to a more attentive perusal of my first paper. He warns your readers that, at the end of a few years, trees trained in the way I described will have nothing but long bare stems, perishing, according to his experience, at the age of fifteen years, through over-exertion in youth. Now I beg to assure your readers that I find no difficulty in originating as many shoots as I please all over the trees down to the base, and could have hundreds more than are wanted, and I can point to the trees in confirmation of what I say. Their present appearance disproves Mr M'Millan's anticipations. He may rest assured he has got on the wrong side of the hedge with his overexertion theory.

No plant was ever yet killed from being allowed to develop its energies to their fullest extent, root and top, where favoured by a suitable soil and climate; for it must be borne in mind that my remarks referred to Peaches grown under glass, or in a position where the wood would be likely to get thoroughly matured to the extremities. Early maturity means early death throughout all nature, and if constant root-pruning and pinching (allowable under some circumstances) is not hurrying life, I don't know what is. A close study of nature never taught any one to use such means to prolong life or vigorous health. I don't know what Mr M'Millan means about adopting unnatural means in Peach-tree culture, and counteracting means to keep the same in order. For further information on this matter I would refer Mr M'Millan to a sensible leading article in the 'Gardeners' Chronicle' of November 19, on the "Rule of Thumb," having a direct bearing on this subject, and in which some of the oldest Peach-trees in the kingdom, including the Chatsworth trees, are pointed to as examples of the extension system in early youth.

Mr M'Millan should see the Chatsworth trees, and when he is in the neighbourhood I shall be pleased to procure him opportunities of seeing the extension system of wall-tree culture carried out on a grand scale, and also a day's recreation in Sherwood Forest, where he may safely be left to commune with the Oaks that were ancient when they sheltered Robin Hood and his bold yeomen, and perhaps he will afterwards tell us how far restriction has promoted their long life and vigour. I will not follow Mr M'Millan in his remarks upon this subject, which he concludes by the remark, that "to be old-fashioned and successful cannot be a crime, but to be new-fashioned and fail must be a crime." A tremendously serious and discouraging aspect of the question, which should put experimenters to their P's and Q's if ever such a law should be put in force; and which seems simply to mean, that success is a virtue, and failure a crime, or that if we debouch out of the usual beaten track, for the purpose of experiment or improvement, and fail, we should be sent to Botany Bay. J. Simpson.