« السابقةمتابعة »
"The mead is our study, and nature our book."
GRASSES, such as Linnæus kneeled beside, and praised the Lord for having made, are now in great perfection. Beautiful are they in their assigned localities; useful too, for they minister to the necessities of men and animals, and such wayfaring creatures as derive from them both food and shelter. But, wherever growing, whether in damp and arid places, or in sultry, or cold regions, they are admirably adapted to meet every possible contingency. Grasses, as Paley has well observed, in spirit, if not in words, are worthy of the most minute inspection. The earth is clothed with them, and its inhabitants principally sustained. Cattle feed upon the leaves, and birds upon the smaller seeds, men also upon the larger; for none require to be told that wheat, and rye, and barley, and oats, belong to this class. In those tribes which are more generally considered as grasses, their extraordinary means and powers of preservation and increase, their hardiness, their almost unconquerable disposition to spread, their faculties of revivescence, coincide with the intentions of their Creator concerning them. They thrive best even when subjected to a mode of treatment by which other plants are destroyed. The more their leaves are consumed, the more rapidly they increase; the more they are trampled upon by sheep and cattle, the thicker they grow. Many, when apparently dead in hot weather, revive after a sudden shower; the field, or park, which looks dry and brown one day, the next is green and pleasant, and the melancholy bleating of sheep, or the lowing of cattle, is no longer heard; the passer-by may see those harmless creatures cropping the glittering herbage, and seeming to rejoice in the luxuriance that is spread before them.
"Behold the fowls of the air," said our Lord to the multitudes that followed him, "they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" Our Lord referred most probably to the ample provision yielded by such grasses as clothe the earth; for although granivorous birds feed occasionally upon fruits that ripen in their season, these are comparatively of short duration; whereas, some kind of grasses continually reproduce their seeds, and are so constructed as to suit all climates. Such as are assigned to cold and damp countries, or pertain to hills and marshes, carry their flowers in ears, and are frequently surmounted with long awns: they consequently reflect the rays of light, and ripen readily in even the most unfavourable seasons; those, on the contrary, which belong to hot countries, produce their seeds in flowing or drooping plumes, whereby to shelter them from the heat of the sun. Their flexible stems are likewise deserving of remark, as also the admirable manner in which they are strengthened with joints at certain distances. The leaves bear in like manner an obvious reference to the necessities of the parent plant; they are long and slender, and bend readily before the wind without breaking; hence they remain uninjured in the heaviest storms, their weakness becomes their strength, when neither giant
trunks, nor firmly interlacing roots protect the forest trees.
Thus wonderfully constructed, and endowed with an extra portion of silicious particles, which serve to increase the power of resistance, grasses are found in every part of the known world; among the rocks of Siberia, and in the torrid zone. A spirit of life, independent of all soils and climates, preserves, and reproduces them; and while the lesser pyramids of Egypt are falling to decay, grasses which grew around them when the Israelites toiled in the erection of those stupendous masses, continue in their descendants, and many a solitary tuft still waves in the clefts of huge stones that lift their heads amid the sand, reminding the traveller that the arid waste was not always unclothed with verdure. The lofty buildings of Greece and Rome, obelisks and fountains, palaces and temples, the marbles of which were rivetted with iron, are known only in their ruins; but innumerable grasses that yield seed for the pasturage of cattle, and the support of small birds, spring beside them in green luxuriance, or else ascend, unbidden, their broken ramparts, and seat themselves among the rents of ruin, with the yellow wallflower, and blue forget
MEADOW FOX-TAIL, AND FINE BENT-GRASS. The meadow-fox-tail (alopecurus pratensis), and fine bent-grass (agrostis vulgaris), present a striking contrast in their appearance, though equally diffused in meadows and pastures, by road-sides and public paths, and in short, whereever their services are required. The first derives its name from two Greek words, signifying a fox, and a tail, in allusion to the tufted form of the spike. It is undoubtedly the best grass to sow in low meadow ground, or in boggy places that have been drained, and is often very abundant in
rich natural pastures, where it is eagerly sought for by sheep and cattle. Its brother, the Alpine fox-tail-grass, is so extremely rare, as never to have been discovered excepting on the Scotch mountains of Lock Na-gore, Clova, and Ben Lawers.
The second belongs to a considerable family, and although rarely sought by cattle, yields an excellent plat for the manufacture of hats and bonnets. One of the most conspicuous among its kind is the marsh bent-grass (a. alba), concerning which botanists relate that although occasionally denounced as couch grass, and difficult to eradicate, on account of its wiry and brittle roots, it produces hay preferred by cattle to all others, and is doubtless the real fiorin, or butter-grass of the Irish; yielding an enormous produce, and equally serviceable for winter green food; by which succulent provender milch cows may be supported from December until late in April. And as its culture is required for pasturage, the slightest soil suffices to nourish its extensively creeping stem; it is moreover in a great degree indifferent to the extremes of dryness, or of moisture, and is found on mountain sides, at different elevations, even on the verge of perpetual winter, being totally insensible to the severity of cold: and in such sterile places, beneath a burning sun, as all other plants instinctively avoid. The fiorin also abounds equally on sandy moors and wet morasses; on thin dry soil as well as moist-extending up the bleakest mountains, and over the shelterless tracts of Dartmoor and Exmoor-or those of Scotland, Ireland, and North Wales. Nor is this all! It seems as if the butter-grass lingered till the beauty or luxuriance of its relatives had passed by, for it remains inactive till other grasses have attained perfection, and become exhausted: then it is that this friendly plant unfolds its productive powers, and the latest mouthful of green herbage, as also occasionally the earliest, is afforded by the fiorin. Such are the united testimonies of Dr. Richardson and Mr. Sinclair, in favour of the marsh bent-grass and its numerous relatives. Varieties, however, produced by accidental circumstances, and possessing a tenacity of growth that does not yield even to ploughing or pulverising, has caused this generally diffused grass to be disliked by many agriculturists.
The silky bent-grass (a. spica venti) may be easily distinguished from other grasses, in sandy fields, or among corn, by its silky panicle, about eight or twelve inches long, leaning on one side, and of a somewhat purple hue. After the springsown corn has vegetated, and until the ripening of harvest fields, flocks of pigeons diligently occupy themselves in picking out the seeds and panicles of the silky bent-grass with the utmost perseverance. The seeds are, however, somewhat difficult to obtain, on account of the long awns; and hence the old couplet :
"The pigeon never knoweth woe Until a benting she doth go."
But the chief granary of small birds is the birdknot grass, or red Robin, polygonum avicularae, which abounds on road sides, and may be even seen in streets, where a sparrow or perchance honest robin snatches a bill full of its tempting seeds, and then darts swiftly away. The plant is not easily destroyed, though trampled upon by men and animals; and is so abundant in fields,
that the scattering of its innumerable seeds often gives a reddish hue to the ground, after the gathering in of harvest.
Among such grasses as have been naturalized, the Canary grass, Phalaris Canariensis, is one of the most conspicuous; and widely extended crops pleasingly diversify the Isle of Thanet during the present and coming months.
Meadows continually present an inexhaustible variety of vegetable forms, small though they be, and such as many pass unheeding with their sketch-books in their hands, when seeking for the magnificent or graceful among forest trees. Grasses are, indeed, comparatively minute, and yet the painter or the poet may find among them the embodying of ideal beauty and that minuteness of embellishment which is incompatible with grander outlines. Take, for example, the Cyno don dactylon, or creeping dog's-tooth-grass, ascertained by Sir William Jones to be the Durva, or dub-grass of the Hindoos, concerning which he remarks," that the flowers in their perfect state afford the loveliest object in creation, and that when examined with a microscope, they resemble emeralds and rubies trembling in the slightest breath of air. Nor is the species less esteemed for its valuable qualities; it forms the sweetest and most nutritious pasturage for cattle; and its usefulness and beauty induced the Hindoos, even in the earliest ages, to believe that it was the dwelling place of a benevolent and presiding nymph, who loved to listen to the cropping of dewy herbage by flocks and herds in meadows, and beside clear streams. Poets feigned, that, looking forth from her diverging spike, adorned with purple flowers and ranged in two close alternate rows, wherever she presided, there blights and mildews were unknown, and that the air came loaded with fragrance as if from bowers of balm, although neither roses, citrons, richly scented magnolias, nor orange trees, grew contiguous." Even the Veda celebrates this inimitable grass in the following sentence of the A't'harvana:-"May the Durva, which arose from the waters of life, and which hath a hundred roots and a hundred stems, prolong my existence on earth for a hundred years.
The tall oat-grass (Avena elatior) is equally beautiful as the durva, and does not require the assistance of a microscope to develop its perfections. Who has not frequently admired this stately grass in meadows, though, perhaps, unacquainted with its name, which rises to the height of six feet, with leaves of considerable length, and more than an inch wide, and adorned with a panicle of gently drooping flowers often a foot in length, so finely polished, that notwithstanding their emerald hue, they might be mistaken for silver oats? Yet their colour, though assuming occasionally a green tint, is not really green, neither is it white, nor gold colour, nor purple, but a union of all these; at one moment it resembles gold, at another silver, at another amethyst, according as a passing breeze causes it to quiver in the sun-beams. Truly the grass is exceedingly variable as regards its tints, but this only enhances its loveliness; and when fully ripe, none of its sisters can be compared with the tall oat-grass in its full pride of beauty. The light purple pyramid by which it is distinguished is seen in every field and meadow, in pastures and lanes, and in damp or swampy places, as if in even the most
The northern holy-grass, (hierochloe borealis), thus named by Gmelin from two Greek words implying sacred, and a grass-because in Prussia the plant is strewed before the doors of churches on festival days-yields a delightful fragrance, resembling that of the sweet scented vernalgrass, anthoxatum odoratum, which principally occasions the smell of new-mown hay. This kind grass, though rare in England, and first discovered in the narrow mountain valley of Kella, in Angus-shire, grows exuberantly in Sweden, and is sold for the purpose of being suspended over beds, in order to promote sleep.
The geography of plants, though most conspicuous among forest trees, from the imperishable firs of Norway to the palms and cocoa that belong to exotic regions, is yet strongly marked in our meadows and beside the village path-ways. The crested dog-tail grass (Cynosurus cristatus) is plentiful in dry pastures, and yields, in common with several kinds of perennial grasses, a material for the manufacture of Leghorn hats and bonnets, superior to Italiam straw. The downy feathergrass (Stipa pennata) grows on mountainous rocks, and is readily distinguished from its brethren by long awns, adorned with fine, white, soft, pellucid Hand diverging hairs, which so much resemble the plumes of a bird of Paradise, as to be substituted by ladies for that elegant ornament. The awns remain permanently attached till the seeds become fully ripe, when still retaining their graceful appendage, and barbed with sharp bristles, they are borne hither and thither by the breezes of autumn, and scattered over heath and rock, where they find a resting-place, and spring up with renewed beauty to reward the researches of the botanist, who often ascends with difficulty to their rugged habitats. Such was, but unhappily is not, the home of this favourite among British grasses. My ancestor, Thomas Lawson, when searching for plants in company with Dr. Richardson, found a tuft on the limestone rocks adjoining the valley of Longleasdale, about six miles from Kendal. Since then it has only been once discovered in the same spot, and has now disappeared from among the catalogue of British plants. Still, however, the species is carefully cultivated by floral gardeners, and may be seen in company with exotic strangers, as if looking from the windows of richly decorated show-rooms on the "ever moving myriads" that pass along the streets of London. It seems to me strangely out of place, and my thoughts turn involuntarily to the mountain side, with its fresh pure air, and the small green valley, where grew the tuft of feather-grass when discovered by my gifted ancestor.
The purple melic-grass (Melica cærulea), on the contrary, grows best where even the hardy lichen is injured or destroyed. It is found in boggy, sterile meadows, and grows abundantly in the vicinity of the copper-works at Pary's mountain, in Anglesey, where the air is rendered impure, and vegetable life speedily becomes extinct. Were it possible to ascertain facts connected with the natural history of this small plant, we should find, most probably, that by the emission of pure Oxygen, an atmosphere is formed around its long and flexible leaves, and large purple panicles, by which some tiny insect is enabled to exist in the
uninviting solitudes, the mind might have some-
midst of an otherwise unwholesome region; but why the plant and insect are thus stationed is a problem which none may solve.
The soft brome-grass (bromus mollis) though disliked by farmers, must not yet be wanting in his fields." It grows there equally unbidden and unwelcome, and though its use has not been discovered, the awn presents a familiar instance of the wonderful mechanism by which a simple seed is enabled to make its way into the ground when so thickly covered with herbage that the art of man would be unavailing to effect such a purpose. A continual motion is occasioned by the awns being very susceptible to atmospheric changes, curling up in dry weather, and relaxing with moisture, and thus empowering the seed to push through every intervening obstacle, and at length to bury itself in the soil. Seeds of the bearded wild oat-grass (avena fatua) make a lodgment in like manner; and Linnæus tells us, that if the bearded oat is housed with other grain, the plumes speedily become empty. The awns are, therefore, used for hygrometers; and children are delighted with their animated movements, when, after being thrown into water, and then placed on a dry table, they leap and twist about in a most extraordinary manner. The species are found chiefly on clays and stiff gravels.
Marshy places and stream sides are often beautified during the present month with the tall stems and mace-like brown spikes of the great cat's-tail, (typha latifolia) of the ancient Greeks, thus named from a bog or marsh, its natural growing-place. The down of the amentum is used to stuff cushions and mattrasses; and in common with its relatives, the lesser and dwarf cat's-tail, t. angustifolia, and t. minor, few, if any, among aquatic vegetables are equally ornamental. The larger species, especially, are often planted on the margin of pools, where they afford an excellent shelter for wildfowl, and where their spikes present conspicuous and pleasing objects, especially when contrasted with the drooping purple brown, and graceful panicles of the common reed (arundo pragmites).
"The common reed!" some one may perhaps exclaim, "growing every where, by lakes and rivers, and even road-side ditches; can this homely plant have nought of history or utility?" "Much of both," the botanist replies. Swamps, and low lands occasionally overflowed with water, may be rendered productive if first planted with reeds; and the young shoots cut off close to the ground make excellent pickles. Surely it is also no small praise, that the sedge warbler, a very pretty bird, that frequents osier and willow beds, and warbles her simple yet melodious song from among their branches, prefers suspending her elegantly formed nest between the stems of two near reeds, at a short distance above the ground. In Sweden the panicles are used for dyeing woollen cloth green, and the reeds are far more durable than straw for thatching. So valuable are they, that in our own fen counties, when broken down by numerous flights of starlings that annually resort to them, the injury is attended with considerable loss. Garden-screens, whereby to keep off cold winds in spring from tender plants, are made with reeds; and they are laid across the frame of wood-work as the foundation of plaster floors. Artists well know their value, and use them for pens when freedom is required in sketching or etching; and till the introduction of goose
quills for writing, in the seventh century, they were in general request by scribes, who often spent their lives in transcribing and illuminating some valuable work. Archers also preferred them for shafts when bows and arrows were in use, hewing with strong hatchets bows from aged yew-trees, and searching along the margin of some neigh-beautify our fields and meadows in July, open equally in August; and while the mowers have yet spared many a field of waving grass, I have sought to associate with the loveliest, or most useful, some natural or historic facts of considerable interest.
bouring swamp for the pliant reed. And thus has the plant of which we speak been often quoted as emblematic of a flexible disposition, because, bending with the currents, or forming the swiftly-flying arrow, in contrast with the tough yew-bow.
The arundo arenaria, sea-mat weed, or bent, pertains to the same family, and is everywhere an object of peculiar interest. Assigned by its Creator to grow on the sea-coast, it offers an effectual barrier to those drifts of sand which often lay waste the fields, and have even destroyed considerable villages. Wherever the sea-mat takes root, a sand-hill presently accumulates, and in proportion as this increases, the friendly plant lifts its head above the surface; hence, most probably, the origin of those round-topped hills, called links, that extend along many of our northern coasts. The sea-mat grows profusely on the sands near Liverpool, where it was planted some years since, in order to bind them together; as also on the Cornish coast. Queen Elizabeth prohibited its extirpation, and a recent law protects this plant throughout the places of its growth.
But as botanists in general are now intent on preserving specimens of beautiful or rare plants, I shall transcribe for them a method which I have often tried with the happiest success. It is as follows-Place the plant, when fresh, between several sheets of blotting-paper, and iron it with a large smooth heater, pretty strongly warmed, till all the moisture is dissipated. The flowers may be afterwards fixed down with gum to the paper, and then ironed again, by which means they become almost incorporated with the paper, In general, I have preferred tacking the plant with fine cotton to the place where it is destined to remain. Some plants require a more moderate heat than others; experience must determine this, and herein consists the nicety of the experiment.
In compound flowers, as the Centaurea, some little art is required in cutting away the underpart, by which means their profiles will be distinctly exhibited-but then they must be pasted down, or else, before ironing, place folded pieces of blotting paper all round the flower, to make it on a level with the surface. M. R.
Few, if any, in the vegetable world, are more wonderfully constructed, with an obvious reference to the purpose for which they are designed. The ridged stems are two or three feet high, the leaves are pointed and thorn-like, and the roots penetrating. No other mode of structure would answer the same intent; the penetrating roots fix the plant firmly; the ridged stems readily resist sand-drifts, however sudden, and the pointed thorn-like leaves allow the sand to fall between them as through a sieve, from which the wind may not again chase it. Now, if the leaves were broad, like those of the giant coltsfoot, which pertains to March, or if the stems grew higher, and were light and yielding like the common rush, the same purpose could not be effected. But here everything harmonises. The sand is adapted to the plant, the plant to the sand; the leaves, too, are defended with a firm hard cuticle, which effec tually prevents the fine particles of salt that fly from off the waves from penetrating into the pores. Without this admirable provision, the arundo would soon perish; and if we could examine the structure of the leaf, we should doubtless discover that the outer surface is endued with a filtering power, by means of which sufficient moisture is derived from the atmosphere for its well-being.
Beside the arundo often grows another plant, which lends its aid to prevent the spreading of loose sand on the sea-shore. This is the upright sea-lyme grass (Elymus arenarius), which possesses the singular property of remaining unmoved in its baseless habitat, and which is common on most of our sea-coasts, The stems are three or four feet high, reed-like, and hollow, and the leaves are rolled inward, and sharp pointed; the sand, therefore, which the sea-mat stops in its hurrying course, and collects around it, the lyme-grass secures, and thus they act in concert,
conferring incalculable benefits, and promoting the well-being of mankind.
The present paper has been exclusively confined to grasses, and some of the most conspicu ous among reeds, because few persons are acquainted with their history. Such flowers as
BUDDING, &c.-It is my pleasing duty this month to treat on the budding of roses-one of the most interesting of horticultural operations. By the tyro in gardening, budding is generally considered a mysterious affair, requiring great skill and dexterity of manipulation to perform successfully. If any of my friendly readers have such an idea, I beg of them to dismiss it from their minds immediately, for now is the time when the operation ought to be performed, and when they ought, by all means, to try to accomplish it. I know many, myself included, who never saw a rose or any other tree or shrub budded, previously to their successfully doing it themselves. If you have only two roses, if of different kinds, I would advise you to bud the one on to the other, and vice versa; if you are successful, you can scarcely imagine the pleasure you will experience, You can then say the heart-gratifying words" Alone I did it!" In the course of my description you will read of a budding-knife, and probably you may, very naturally, say to yourself, "Why should I give half-a-crown for a budding-knife, merely to bud one or two roses with?" Quite right, friend, say I but as the old proverb says, "there are always two roads to a well;" and so I will tell you what I use for a budding-knife. I have an old razor which, like many other people, I keep in pretty good order, for the purpose of root pruning -easing my understanding chiropedising
pshaw! I must be explicit, even if vulgar-I mean, cutting my corns! Now a razor, in that condition, is as sharp, and towards the point has the same convexity of blade as that which forms the useful peculiarity of the budding-knife. The handle of the budding-knife is made of ivory or bone tapered off at the lower part, wedge fashion, with as sharp an edge as the material will admit, Now to effect the purpose to which this handle is applied, I use the handle of an old worn out toothbrush, which I have scraped down to a similar sharp, smooth, wedge-shaped edge. Thanks to the too prevalent, yet useful Mother of Invention, my budding-tools cost me nil, and at the same time perfectly answer my purpose:
"Let not Ambition mock our humble tools !""
at the eye, or root of the bud, you may throw it away as useless. Then, with the handle of the budding-knife, separate, and turn back the bark from the stock on each side of the perpendicular cut, (it will then resemble figure d), and insert the shield close to the wood, and between it and the turned-back bark. Cut off the top part of the shield horizontally, (in the direction of the dotted line c), and fit the remaining upper part of the shield accurately, and closely, to the cross-cut in the stock-on this close contact of the two barks, the success of the operation principally depends. You must now lay down the turned-back bark over the shield, and with a worsted thread, or bit of bass, bind it down, leaving the point of the bud clear. (Figure e represents the bud in the stock previous to its being bound). A friend informs me that he uses common adhesive plaster for bind
Budding is the insertion of a bud, taken from one tree, into the bark of another; and as in graft-ing, and that it answers admirably. If the weather be very warm, a handful of damp moss should be loosely tied over all, leaving, as before, the point of the bud exposed. In about a month, or six weeks, the ties may be removed; and to throw the shoots must be cut off, and suckers, whenever they whole strength of the plant into the bud, all make their appearance, carefully eradicated.
ing, the operation will not succeed unless the bud and the tree to which it is united are varieties of the same species, or genera of the same natural family. In fact, the only difference between grafting and budding the principle of each being the same-is that in the former a shoot, or as it is technically termed a scion, is inserted into the stock or stem that is grafted; and in the latter a bud, which is simply a scion in embryo. The latter part of June, the month of July, and on to the middle of August, is the best season for budding. When you perceive the buds well formed in the axilla of the leaf, that is, between the footstalk of the leaf and the stem, and when the bark of the stalk can be freely and easily raised from the wood, then you have a sure criterion that you may safely commence to bud.
By budding you may produce several kinds of roses upon the same plant. The more tender exotic roses would scarcely exist in this country if they were not budded on our more hardy kinds. Indeed it is now generally acknowledged that all roses bloom finer, and last longer, when budded on the common wild rose. Budding is also extremely useful for filling up the vacancies which so frequently occur in peach and apricot trees, when trained to walls, by branches dying. Variegated shrubs, as holly, &c., are propagated by budding on the plain kinds.
FLOWERS. The common white and orange Lilies, Martagons, Peonies, Fritillarias, Irises, and several other bulbous and tuberous-rooted plants, should not be permitted to remain longer than two or three years at farthest in the same spot of ground, as they greatly exhaust and impoverish the soil, and their increasing offsets require room. About this season of the year, when you see the stems decayed, the roots may be lifted, the offsets taken away, and the old roots planted again in fresh soil. Although the old roots may be kept for some time out of the ground, yet they will grow stronger, and produce finer flowers next season, if they are immediately planted again. The offsets should be planted in nursery beds until they produce flowers, when they may be removed to
the borders. All bulbs intended to be moved should be raised from the ground just as their stems are decayed, for if they have any period of rest previous to lifting, they will form their new
Select a smooth part of the stock at the height you wish, and the side least exposed to the sun; with your budding-knife make a horizontal cut aeross the bark through to the wood, but no deeper; from the centre of this cross-cut make another of a similar kind, perpendicularly down-root-fibres, and also the bud or germ of next year's wards, about an inch, or rather more, in length- stem; and if the root is taken up after these are these two cuts will be in the form of a T. Then formed, the progress of Nature is impeded, and, proceed to take off the bud-or as it is technically consequently, the flowers of next season will be termed, the shield-first cutting off the leaf, but inferior-assuming the plant bears any, which, leaving a part of the leaf-stalk. The shield must after such rude treatment, is very doubtful. be carefully sliced out of the stem at one cut. (Figures a and b represent the stem and shield after their separation). A portion of the wood must be taken off with, and attached to, the shield; the greater part of this wood must be carefully picked out, but it is essential that a portion should be left at the back of the bud-if you do not do so, but make a hole through the shield
Large specimens of the Chinese Chrysanthemum, growing in the open ground, may now be layered to produce small, pet, potted plants for the window. Choose the strong central shoots for this purpose; and as the stems of these plants are exceedingly brittle, it is advisable to peg down the shoots their whole length along the ground, and only to notch or slightly twist the stem at the part