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NOTES AND GLEANINGS.
Hints On Hybridizing Fruits.—The following notes, published a few years since by Mr. John Standish, the well-known nursery-man and florist, in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, may be of interest at a time when hybridization is exciting so much attention. Though the experiments were confined to greenhouse grapes and fruits, there is no reason to doubt their general application; the experience of hybridists generally confirming the principle there laid down, that no constancy can be expected in seedlings.
The rules of variance, however, are by no means understood; the raising of seedlings being one of the strongest arguments for the doctrine of chance. The whole field is one offering every inducement to both the gardener and amateur; and, with the interest already awakened, the next few years cannot fail to show great advance.
"Having been occupied for many years in hybridizing plants, and being very fond of it, I at length turned my attention to fruits. I commenced with grapes.
"My object was to make the Muscat easier to cultivate, and increase the size of the Frontignan ; also to make the large coarse kinds of a better flavor, and to improve the early ones.
"I began, in the first instance, with the Muscat of Alexandria, one of the most difficult grapes to cultivate; and the Trovdren Muscat, a remarkably free grower, but a long time in coming to maturity. It is a most delicious grape, though not so highly musked as the former. I expected to obtain grapes less difficult to cultivate, and was partly right; but I was rather astonished at the final results. It should be premised that the Troveren is a round grape, the Muscat of Alexandria an oval one. The latter I made the female parent; and, out of thirty seedlings, no two were alike. The first three that fruited were black, one being a large early grape, in shape an oval, with a fruit-stalk like a piece of wire: it was of a very fine flavor, with the slightest possible taste of Muscat, and hung well. This was a great success, and well worth all my trouble. The other two were late ones, with large round berries, but nothing else remarkable about them. In the following year, I fruited ten or twelve more from the same lot. One of these was of a beautiful white or golden color, and ripened quite as soon as the Hamburg: its fine vinous flavor was exquisite, mingled as it was with a Muscat taste about half as strong as that of its parents. This also had very stiff fruit-stalks, and kept a very long time. Another, and this astonished me more than any thing else, was a perfect miniature of the Muscat of Alexandria, perfectly oval, and with the strongest Muscat flavor that I ever tasted; but it was no larger than a red currant! I have not as yet discovered any thing very remarkable among the others. The next experiment I tried was with General Marmora (no doubt a white seedling variety of the Hamburg), crossed by Burchardt's Amber Cluster (early white Malvasia). My object was to obtain a very early grape; and in this I succeeded beyond my expectations, as I got a very fine white transparent grape like the Amber Cluster, but as large as the Hamburg, and fully five weeks earlier than that kind. This, of course, is a great gain, and what has been much wanted, as the Sweetwater grapes are very bad setters, and the Muscadine is too small for table use. The next crosses were between Blanc de Saumur and Chasselas Musqud, and Chasselas Musqud and the Citronelle. From these two crosses I have obtained the most delicious kinds that ever came under my notice, — more so even than the old Frontignan and Chasselas Musqud. Two of them are sweet-scented; smelling, when the sun shines on them, like orange-blossoms. Nothing I have ever seen can compare with them in flavor and productiveness: their size, too, is very large, some of them being as large again as the Frontignan.
"Two other most remarkable crosses are Chasselas Musqud, fertilized by the Long Noir Durant, a large oval black grape, on a very large bunch, but of an inferior flavor. This cross produced grapes of various colors, black, pink, and grizzly, but all quite round. The next time, I made Long Noir Durant the female parent; and, curiously enough, the result was almost identical with the former, there not being an oval berry obtained. A very slight Muscat taste is observable in a few; but, in the greater number, it is not observable at all.
"These are the results from about five hundred seedlings that I have raised, and four hundred sorts that I have fruited. I have some more yet to fruit, such as the Canon Hall crossed by the Japanese one.
"As the result of my experience, I am convinced that no one can tell, in raising a lot of seedling grapes, what they will be likely to get, they vary so much.
"I next directed my attention to peaches.
"My object was to obtain peaches with Nectarine flavor; and I am glad to say I have succeeded. The Nectarines I made the female plants were the Violette Hitive, Pitmaston Orange, and the Stanwick, crossed with the Noblesse and Barrington peaches. Although the Violette H&tive Nectarine had a small flower, still, when crossed with the large-flowering peaches, eight out of twelve were large-flowered; and, out of fifteen kinds fruited this summer, only one was a Nectarine: the others were all peaches, most of them with the Nectarine flavor. Two of them were especially delicious, having a beautiful Nectarine flavor, melting like a peach, but full-colored like the former fruit. The stones that produced the seedlings were sown in the beginning of February, 1863: the greater part of them flowered in February, 1864; but the fruit fell off. I now have one planted out in my peach-house that will have next June ten or twelve dozen peaches on it. It is ten feet high, about the same width, and covered with fine blooming wood." .
Pampas Grass (Gynerium argenteutn). — The tall-growing male plant is less suitable than the smaller-growing female plant for gardens. The former has a coarse, rigid look: the latter is less liable to injury from high winds, and is far more graceful in its habit. The flowers are different; but the female is the prettier of the two.
Mushroom Culture. — As mushrooms are a delicacy most people are fond of, although not so universally grown, I think, as they would be were their culture known to be so simple th.it any one possessing the convenience of an outhouse or cellar, with a temperature of from 480 to 55°, and a little short dung, may grow them, I beg to offer a few remarks, to those who may not yet have attempted their culture, as to the way they may be produced in abundance with a very little care.
In the first place, if short dung fresh from the stables is to be had, so much trie better; but I have grown abundance on beds made of short dung three months old. However, let it be which it may, procure as much as will make a bed sixteen inches deep and any required size; throw the same together for a few days to heat and dispel the greater part of the moisture; then throw it down for a day or two to cool and dry; after which again throw it up together for a few days,—generally about five or six will be found sufficient. It will then be fit to make the bed with ; which, let the size be what it may, should be about sixteen inches deep. In making the bed, take care to tread or beat it firm. As«oon as the bed shall have risen and declined to 75°, it is ready to spawn. Half a bushel will spawn a bed ten feet square. This, broken in pieces the size of small apples, placed just in the dung, and covered two inches deep, in any garden-soil well beaten down, will produce abundance of mushrooms in six or seven weeks, in a temperature of from 500 to 550.
No further care is required, except an occasional watering when dry. Mushroom-spawn may be procured of any seedsman. IV. Yoimj.
The Oldest Tree, the age of which is historically determined, is the sacred fig-tree of Anarajapoura, in Ceylon. It was planted by Divinipiatissa, in the year 288 B.C.; and its history from that date is preserved by a mass of documentary and traditional evidence. It was described by the Chinese traveller. Fa Hiam, in the year 414, and by the earliest Europeans who visited it. It still flourishes, and is an object of worship to the Buddhists.
Pruning Old Black Currants. — The proper way of pruning all old black currant-bushes, and bushes of black currants of all ages, is to get rid of as much old wood as can be replaced with young wood; and to cut but the very top parts from the strongest young shoots, unless it be on purpose to furnish young wood for the next season.
Champion Of Paris Pea. — This is a rather strong-growing variety, five to six feet high, having generally a single stem; which is, however, occasionally branched, and produces from eight to ten pods. The pods are for the most part single, but sometimes in pairs, about four inches long, nearly three-quarters of an inch wide, and remarkably well filled with from seven to nine large peas. Ripe seed, white, msdium sized, somewhat flattened and pitted.
This pea is also known by the names of Excelsior, Knight's Excelsior, Stuart's Paradise, and Paradise Marrow.
The ripe seed is white, large, smooth, uneven, compressed, irregular, or eggshaped; skin thick; foliage blotched.
As a table pea, it is excellent, an abundant cropper, and one of the earliest of
the marrows. It is highly recommended by Mr. Burr, in his very valuable article on Peas, in " The Journal of Horticulture " for April.
Iresine Herbstii Aurea Reticulata. — There is no plant of recent introduction about which such different opinions have been entertained as the wellknown Iresine Herbstii, so called in England and in this country, but known in France and on the Continent as AZscyranthus Verschaffeltii, and which we regret has no more pronounceable English name. It is a well-known beddingplant, and is, in some situations, unequalled for producing a fine mass of red foliage. This difference of opinion has arisen from the fact (which was also ascertained in regard to Coleus Verschaffeltii, another foliaged-plant of the same character) that the plants thrive well in a warm, dry soil, and in a sheltered situation; while in retentive soils, and low, damp situations, they generally fail. The foliage-of the species is dark purplish-red, marked with midribs and veins of bright red.
The present variety differs in the marking of the leaves, which are dark green, with pinkish-white blotches and red veins. As a greenhouse plant, it may do well in contrast with the species ; but we much doubt its being able to stand our summer suns, and its value as a bedding-plant. Figured in "Floral Magazine," tab. 333.
Australian Spinach. — The new spinach of Australia, Chenopodium auricomum, is a tall annual plant, growing nearly six feet high; the stem being erect, branched from the base, channelled, and streaked with violet-red in the solid parts ; and the leaves long-stalked, alternate, oblong-triangular, irregularly lobatedentate, and, when young, bearing a silvery pulverulence, which disappears on the adult parts. The leaves, if put at first in boiling water, and afterwards treated as an ordinary plate of spinach, form a vegetable agreeable to the taste. Its culture is quite easy. The seeds are sown in April, in a well-manured bed; for the plant is a strong feeder, and requires to be watered freely. The leaves are gathered when the plants are a foot and a half high: they push on again; and, in a few days after, another gathering is ready; and so on throughout the season.— Les Mondes.
Wash For Red Spider. — To clear plants in pots of red spider, take two pounds of soft soap; place it in eight gallons of water (mix, of course) heated to 1400; dip the plants infested into it for half a minute; let them stand until dry; then dip again in the water at a temperature of 1200 for one minute, and the spiders' days are numbered. If the plants are infested with brown scale, rub the infested parts with the hand, dipping a time or two more than for red spider. By these means, we get rid of the brown scale and mealy bug also. Geraniums and plants having similar foliage should not be treated as above directed, as the plants would be injured.
French Botanical Congress. — The Botanical Society of France intends to organize an International Botanical Congress during the time of the Great Exhibition in Paris, to which botanists of all nations shall be invited. The Congress will open on the 26th of July next, and will last for a month. Meetings will be held every Friday evening at the society's rooms, 84, Rue Grenelle St. Germain. On other days during the period, visits will be made to the Exhibition, to the Museum of the Jardin des Plantes, and to private collections; and excursions will be made in the neighborhood of Paris.
Ground Between Strawberry-plants.—The ground between the plants, made hard by treading, may be pointed over with a fork to the depth of a couple of inches, but not' more: for strawberries like a firm soil; and hoeing or digging the surface deeply is to be avoided, as it injures the roots.
This should be done as soon as the fruit is off, that the runners may root more readily.
Liquid Manures. — Urine diluted with five or six waters, or house-sewage, which is better, as including the drainage from sinks and water-closets, is excellent for flower-beds, and especially for roses, and may be applied all the period of growth from early spring to late autumn. Soot, properly diluted, may be similarly applied. Guano is as good for the purpose as house-sewage, but not better. Bone-dust is good, pointed into the surface of the soil. Sheeps' dung makes good liquid manure, but is not so powerful as either house-sewage or guano. If the sinks and water-closets all communicate with the liquid manure well, it will need no diluting; at least, we never mix with it any water. In conclusion, we will add the expression of our conviction, that, for the generality of soils and crops, there is no liquid manure equal to house-sewage. For potted plants, especially if soft-wooded, we use it much weakened with water, and not oftener than once a week. A knowledge of the soil, and of the plant and its health, is needed before any one can say what manure will probably be the most suitable.
Lilium Giganteum.— A friend in Newark, N.J., writes under date November, 1866, "I had a plant of Lilium giganteum in flower beautifully last summer, that had been out in the open ground the two previous winters. I have not heard of one flowering in the open ground before. It is well shaded, the sun only reaching it the very first thing in the morning. It had fifteen flowers, and was eleven feet high."
Salt For Asparagus-beds. — Salt should be applied twice a year: that is, when the beds are dressed in spring, give them a dressing of a pound and a half of salt per square yard, or twenty-four pounds to a bed thirty feet by five feet, and repeat the application at the end of the cutting, or about the middle of June: one pound per yard will be ample. Weeds will easily be kept under by this means, as few of our most noxious weeds thrive in a salt soil.
Celtis Occidentalis (Sugarberry, or Hackberry). — Can any nursery-man furnish trees of this beautiful species? It is one of our finest native trees, in