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.
At last the mystery of the Yellow Camellia is solved, and wc may finally make up our minds that De Candolle's theory of colors is valueless. It was an ingenious idea to divide all plants between one or the other of two series; the xanthic, or yellow aperies, never passing into blues; and the cyanic or blue species never passing into yellow.
But the exceptions prove too many for the role and we must not be startled at a blue dahlia, although the Dahlia is xanthic, since we have a yellow Camellia, although the Camellia is cyanic. Mr. Fortcxk, in his very instructive work on the tea countries of China, just published, saw this remarkable variety, of which he gives the following account:
"Those who have read my (Wanderings in China' may remember a story I told of my endeavors to find a yellow Camellia, - how I offered five dollars for one - how a Chinaman soon found two instead of one - and how he got the money and I got taken in.
"In one of these nurseries, however, I found a yellow Camellia, and it was in bloom when I bought it. It is certainly a most curious plant, although not very handsome. The flowers belong to the Anemone or Warratah class; the outer petals are of a French white, and the inner ones are of a primrose yellow. It appears to be a very distinct species in foliage, and may probably turn out more hardy than any of its race".
To all lovers of horticulture, the work from which this is an extract, is indispensable, for it abounds in interesting details respecting, not merely the novelties met with by the enterprising traveller, but many of the now common favorites in our gardens. The passages which relate to some of them cannot be brought too soon under the notice of our readers.
Of the Funereal Cypress he gives the following account:
" The most beautiful tree found in this district is a species of weeping Cypress, which I had never met with in any other part of China, and which was quite new to me. It was during one of my daily rambles that I saw the first specimen. About half a mile distant from where I was, I observed a noble looking Fir tree, about 60 feet in height, having a stem as straight as the Norfolk Island Pine, and weeping branches like the Willow of St. Helena. Its branches grew at first at right angles to the main stem. then described a graceful curve upwards, ana bent again at their points. From these main branches others long and slender hung down perpendicularly, and gave the whole tree a weeping and graceful form, It reminded me of some of those large and gorgeous chandeliers, sometimes seen in theatres and public halls in Europe".
The gardeners at Shanghae seem to set an example of skill which some of our own people would do well to imitate. In the midst of winter, in as bad a climate as that of London, the flower shops were gaily filled:
" I was not previously aware that the practice of forcing flowers was common in China. Many plants of Magnolia purpurea were in full flower; as were also many kinds of double-blossomed Peaches, the pretty little Prunus sinensis alba, and a variety of Camellias. But what struck me as most remarkable was the facility with which the Moutan Pssony had been brought Into full bloom. Several varieties of this plant were in full flower; and at this season of the year, when everything out of doors was cold and dreary, they had a most lively effect. Their blooms were tied up, to keep them from expanding too rapidly. All these things had been brought from the celebrated city of Soo-choW-foo, the great emporium of Chinese fashion and-luxury.
"It may be thought that the Chinese have glass houses, hot water pipes, and all thosefint things which assist gardeners and amateurs in Europe. Nothing of the kind; they do all these things in their houses and sheds, with com-mon charcoal fires, and a quantity of straw to stop up the crevices in the doors and win-dows.
"At this season of the year the ' Kum-quat' (Citrus japonica,) which is extensively grows in pots, is literally covered with its small, oval, orange colored fruit. This as well as various other species of the orange is mixed with the forced flowers, and together produce an excellent effect. I think if the ' Kum-quat' was bet-ter known at home it would be highly prized for decorative purposes during the winter months. It is much more hardy than any other of Its tribe;t produces its flowers and fruit in great abundance, and it would doubtless prove a plant of easy cultivation. In order, however, to succeed with it as well as the Chinese do, one little fact should be kept in view, namely, that all the plants of the Orange tribe which bear fruit in a small state are grafted".
Of the management of the Chrysanthemum we have excellent practical details:
" The method of cultivating the Chrysanthemum in China is as follows: - Cuttings are struck every year from the young shoots, in the same manner as we do in England. When they are rooted they are potted off at once into the pots in which they are to grow and bloom; that is, they are grown upon what would be called by our gardeners 'the one shift system.'
" The soil used in potting is of a very rich description. About Canton it is generally obtained, in the first instance, from the bottom of lakes or ponds, where the Nelumbium or Water Lily grows. It is then laid up to dry and pulverise for some months, when it is mixed with old night soil taken from the manure-tanks found in every garden. A heap of this kind, after being laid up for some time and frequently turned over, is in a fit state for potting the Chrysanthemum. Manure water, taken also from the tanks, is liberally supplied during the growing season, and its effects are visible in luxuriant dark-green leaves which cover the plants.
"In forming the plants into nice compact bushes, which, with due deference to Chinese taste, I think much prettier than animals and ' seven-storied pagodas/ their system is as follows-. The plants are trained each with a single stem; this is forced to send out numerous laterals near its base, and these are tied down in a neat and regular manner with strings of sUk thread. By having the plants clothed with branches in this way, and by keeping the leaves in a green and healthy state, the specimens never have that bare and broom-headed appearance which they often present in England when they are taken into the green-house in winter.
" About Shanghae and Ning-po the Chrysanthemum is still better managed than it is near Canton; but the success which attends it may be attributed, partly at least, to the more favorable nature of the climate, the plant being indigenous to the central or more northern parts of the empire. The system of cultivation is nearly the same - the maiu points attended to being those which have been noticed, namely, choosing a rich soil, planting at once into large pots, training to a single stem, and inducing it to send out numerous laterals, and giving liberal supplies of manure water during the growing season. The Chinese are fond of having very large blooms, and, in order to obtain these, they generally pick off all the small flower buds".
Here is a graphic description of a Cryptome* riat from which we may judge what it ought to become among ourselves. - " Never in my life had I seen such a view as this, so grand, so sublime. High ranges of mountains were towering on my right and on my left, while before me. as far as the eye could reach, the whole country seemed broken up into mountains and hills of all heights, with peaks of every form.
While gazing with wonder and admiration on the scene, my attention was arrested by a solitary Pine tree of great size, standing about a hundred yards from the gateway. No other trees of any size were near it. Its solitary position near the pass, and its great height and beautiful symmetry, made it appear a most striking object. What could it be? was it new, or did we already possess it in England? I must confess that for a few seconds I had eyes for nothing else. Chairs, coolies, and mountains were all forgotten, and I believe, had the guard of Celestials attempted to prevent me. from going into Fokien, the only boon I should asked at their hands would have been to be allowed to go and inspect this noble Pine.
The Chinese guard, however, had not the slightest intention of interfering with my movements, and, as the tree was on the roadside, I soon came up to it, and found it to be the Japan Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica,) a tree which I had already introduced into England, and which, even in a young state, had been greatly admired there. I had never before seen such a noble specimen, and, although I would rather it had been something new, I yet felt proud of having been the means of introducing into Europe a tree of such size, symmetry, and beauty. It was at least 120 feet in height, - it might be much more. - as straight as a larch, and had its lower branches drooping to the ground. It had not been 'lopped,' like other Chinese trees, and was evidently preserved with great care My Chinamen looked upon it with great admiration, and informed me it was the only specimen of the kind in this part of the country, and that it bad been planted by some former emperor when he crossed the mountains".
Cunninghamia lanceolata would seem to be a much finer thing than in this country it is believed to be:
" The sides of the mountains here were clothed with dense woods of the lance-leaved Pine (Cunninghamia lanceolata.) This was the first time I bad seen this Fir tree of sufficient size to render it of value for its timber. Many of the specimens were at least 80 feet in height, and perfectly straight. There was a richness too in the appearance of its foliage which I had never seen before sometimes it was of a deep green color, while at others it was of a bluish tint. There are, doubtless, many varieties of this tree amongst these hills".
But we must close our extracts from Mr. Fortune's book. Upon the main object of it, namely, the character of the Tea countries of China* and the Tea plantations of India, and upon the able manner in which the author executed a delicate and somewhat dangerous task, we shall have something to say next week. - Gard. Chronicle.