Page images

This latter practice is recommended for standards only, as I have always found grafted plants of apples, and also those of pears, plums, and cherries, far superior for dwarfs to those which have been raised from buds.

Pruning and Training. With regard to pruning, training, and general management of fruit trees of every description, I wish it to be fully understood, that they cannot be removed from the nursery too soon after the wood has become ripe, and the leaves fallen off; for between this time and the winter many of them will make fresh roots, and be prepared to push forth their young shoots with much more vigour in the spring, than those whose transplanting has been deferred till a late period of the


It should, therefore, be constantly borne in mind, that where the greatest success is desired in forming new plantations of trees, whether in the orchard or the garden, such necessary precautions should not be lost sight of in order to secure it.

The first step to be taken, in order to the accomplishment of this object, is an early and effectual preparation of the soil; and the next, an early transplanting of the trees; the rest will depend upon their subsequent management. On this latter subject I shall give a few short, and, I hope, intelligible directions, under the different heads as they occur, in addition to what has been said when treating of their propagation.

Open Standards.

Such trees as are intended for open standards should be young, clean, and healthy; their stems should be

straight, and their heads should consist of not less than three nor more than four branches, equal in strength, and regularly placed : these will be sufficient to form the principal limbs, for the support of the largest heads that can be required.

The trees should be staked as soon as planted, in order to keep them upright, and to secure them against violent winds. They should not be headed down the first year, nor will they require to be headed down afterwards, in such trees whose growth is upright; but such as are of a pendent growth should remain till they are well established in the ground; and may then be headed down, leaving the branches nine or twelve inches long, when the young shoots will assume a more upright direction. At the end of the year these should be thinned out, selecting those which are the best placed and most regular in their growth for forming the future head. After this, nothing more will be necessary than to look them over from time to time, cutting out carefully any superabundant branches which may appear, particularly those which have a tendency to injure the proper figure of the head, or are likely to become stronger than the rest: these latter, if suffered to remain, will injure any description of tree, whether it be a standard, an espalier, or whether it be trained against a wall.

Open Dwarfs.

Open dwarfs are such as are generally planted on the borders, or in the quarters of the garden, and consist of such as are intended to furnish fruit for the dessert only : those for the kitchen more properly belong to the orchard department. Besides, open dwarfs should consist of those kinds whose wood is short, slender, and easily kept within a moderate compass ; this latter object

is accomplished more effectually by grafting them upon the Doucin stock; the crab being destined to the support of orchard standards, or dwarfs for large gardens, where the trees can be allowed plenty of room. And here it may be observed, that dwarfs on crab-stocks are much more adapted for large and ponderous fruit than standards, as they not only produce larger fruit, but are less likely to be blown down by high winds. Trees for this purpose should have their branches of an equal strength : those which have been grafted one year, or what are termed by nurserymen maiden plants, are the best ; they should not be cut down when planted, but should stand a year, and then be headed down to the length of four or six inches, according to their strength; these will produce three or four shoots from each cutdown branch, which will be sufficient to form a head. At the end of the second year, two or three of the best placed of these from each branch should be selected, and shortened back to nine, twelve, or fifteen inches each, according to their strength, taking care to keep the head perfectly balanced (if the expression may be allowed), so that one side shall not be higher nor more numerous in its branches than the other, and all must be kept as near as may be at an equal distance from each other. If this regularity in forming the head be attended to and effected at first, there will be no difficulty in keeping it so afterwards, by observing either to prune to that bud immediately on the inside next to the centre of the tree, or that immediately on the outside. By this means, viewing it from the centre, the branches will be produced in a perpendicular line from the eye ; whereas, if pruned to a bud on the right or left side of the branch, the young shoot will be produced in the same direction : so that if the branches formed round a circle be not thus pruned to the eyes on the right successively, or the left successively, a very material difference will be found,

and the regularity of the tree will be destroyed, in one single year's pruning; which may be readily illustrated thus :-Fix four branches, either in a direct line, or to a circular hoop, at the distance of eight inches from each other: let the first branch on the left be called


the second b, the third c, the fourth d; head down a to the left hand bud ; b to the right ; c to the left ; and d to the right. When these have grown a year, those between b and c will be only six inches apart, while those between a and b and between c and d will be ten inches : thus the distances now are not as eight to to eight, but as six to ten ; which would require two years' pruning in a contrary direction to restore the head to its former regularity: and it must not be forgotten that this system of pruning will hold good in every other case.

What has just been said, has reference only to the leading shoots, which are always produced from the terminal buds when pruned, and which alone form the figure and beauty of the tree.

The intermediate space must of course be provided for at the same time, having a' regard to the number of branches thus employed, that they do not crowd each other. On the contrary, they must be kept thin, and perfectly open, so as to admit plenty of sun and air, without which the fruit produced will be small and good for but little : the middle of the tree, indeed, must be kept quite open from the first to the last, taking care that all the surrounding branches lead outwards, and preserving a regular distance from each other.

In pruning the supernumerary shoots, they should be cut down to within an inch of the bottom, which will generally cause the surrounding eyes to form natural blossom spurs; but where the tree is in a vigorous state of growth, branches will probably be produced instead

of spurs: if so, they must all be cut out close, except one, which must be shortened as before.

In all the winter prunings, care must be taken to keep the spurs short and close, none of which should at any time exceed three inches ; cutting out clean all the blank spurs, which have produced fruit the previous summer, to the next perfect bud below.

Should canker be perceived in any of the branches, or older limbs, if of a formidable nature, they should, at this pruning, be cut out to the sound wood, where, in general, nature will have provided some young shoots of more than usual strength, for the purpose of remedying the defect. When canker arises from some accidental cause, such as wounds, by early attention it

may be overcome; but when it arises from a constitutional disease, amputation is the only remedy for the affected part. Should it break out on an extended scale, an efficacious remedy will be sought in vain—the shortest, and the least expensive, will be to root up the tree.

These appear to me to be all the instructions necessary to be observed in the management of open dwarfs : they are, at least, such as I have myself pursued for many years ; and I have found ample compensation, not only in abundant crops, but in fine and perfect specimens of fruit.

Espaliers. Espalier trees are of old standing in this country, and are admirably adapted for small gardens, where every yard of room is of consequence ; and in large gardens they are equally valuable with the open dwarf.

There are two ways of forming espaliers : the most common is that of training the two sides in the manner of horizontal wings: this method always leaves the centre open, from the curvature of the inner branches,

« PreviousContinue »