This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
There is a Walnut-tree here, the history of which is curious and instructive; and as it tends, in some degree, to confirm what I have lately stated concerning bark and wood, I beg to say a word or two on the former state and present appearance of the tree. It faces the eastern front of the stables, and is about thirty paces distant from them. More than eighty years ago, my father ordered it for execution, as he foresaw that ere long it would interfere with a favorite Scotch Fir. A gun-maker, who was standing by at the time, offered a price for the bole if it would be allowed to remain upright until it suited his convenience to send a conveyance for its removal. Whereupon, there and then, as the lawyers say, the tree was decapitated just nine feet from the ground. But the gunsmith never returned to take the tree, not having paid for it.
During the following spring, the still standing bole sent out a single solitary bud, just at the place where the upper part of the tree had been separated from it by the woodman's axe and saw. As no signs of further vegetation appeared, the bole was pronounced to have died, saving the part where it had germinated, and this living remnant of the former tree was somewhere about nine inches in breadth at the top, gradually widening to two feet as it approached the ground. From this alone the new bud received life and support, to make another tree in times to come. It went prosperously on from year to year, producing vigorous shoots and branches till the year 1810, when, on my return from the West Indies, I took it under my particular care, seeing that it required considerable attention.
Having ordered an adze, suitable in size and shape to the work which it had to perform, I began at the top of the bole, just opposite to the new vegetation; and having cut out large pieces of the dead wood, I rounded off what remained, so that the new wood and bark might have an uninterrupted progress over it. Whenever I returned from abroad (which was about once in four years) I went, adze in hand, to the Walnut-tree, and cut out more of the useless and projecting former wood. The luxuriance of the new tree, rising from one single original bud, was truly astonishing. Its parts at the top of the bole closed in and united; and in course of time they became so perfect, that no traces remained to show that a former head had ever been taken off. In the meantime, renovation from above to below proceeded steadily, every year producing a fresh supply of wood and bark. When at home I was perpetually hewing out little pieces of the ancient tree.
For many years a duck, every season, had her nest on the ground inside of the bole. But now the closing parts of the new tree prohibit her access.
In ten or twelve years more, the present deficiency will be entirely filled ud by the renovating aid of Nature; and when this shall have taken place the tree will measure eight feet in circumference at one foot from the ground. It regularly produces and ripens an abundant crop of nuts when the season is favorable. The whole of the new bark is easily distinguished by its comparatively smooth texture, whilst the original portion, which kept alive and nourished the new bud, is very rough and scaly, bearing evident marks of extreme old age. This year I intend to place a stone in the remaining cavity, with the year of our Lord 1859 cut on it.
The day will come when this stone, and all insects which have taken up their quarters in the bole, will be hermetically sealed, as it were, by the union of the new wood and bark. They will remain imprisoned in their holes, and there they must die, as they can never make their way back again to daylight; nor will ever any daring Scolytus attempt a passage through the new and healthy wood in order to reach the old, which still remains in the centre of the tree; and which old wood will remain there untasted by insects and undisturbed, until some hurricane or mandate of a future proprietor shall lay this tree level with the ground on which it now stands in renovated youth and beauty. - Charles Waterton, Walton Hall.