Page images

year, and cast them likewise late, are more lasting than those that sprout their leaves early, or shed them betimes. The cause is, for that the late coming forth sheweth a moisture more fixed; and the other more loose, and more easily resolved. And the same cause is, that wild trees last longer than garden trees; and in the same kind, those whose fruit is acid, more than those whose fruit is sweet.

586. Nothing procureth the lasting of trees, bushes, and herbs, so much as often cutting: for every cutting causeth a renovation of the juice of the plant; that it neither goeth so far, nor riseth so faintly, as when the plant is not cut; insomuch as annual plants, if you cut them seasonably, and will spare the use of them, and suffer them to come up still young, will last more years than one, as hath been partly touched; such as is lettuce, purslane, cucumber, and the like. And for great trees, we see almost all overgrown trees in churchyards, or near ancient buildings, and the like, are pollards, or dottards, and not trees at their full height.

587. Some experiment would be made, how by art to make plants more lasting than their ordinary period; as to make a stalk of wheat, etc. last a whole year. You must ever presuppose, that you handle it so as the winter killeth it not; for we speak only of prolonging the natural period. I conceive that the rule will hold, that whatsoever maketh the herb come later than at its time, will make it last longer time: it were good to try it in a stalk of wheat, etc. set in the shade, and encompassed with a case of wood, not touching the straw, to keep out open air.

As for the preservation of fruits and plants, as well upon the tree or stalk, as gathered, we shall handle it under the title of conservation of bodies.

Experiments in consort touching the several figures of plants.

588. The particular figures of plants we leave to their descriptions; but some few things in general we will observe. Trees and herbs, in the growing forth of their boughs and branches, are not figured, and keep no order. The cause is, for that the sap being restrained

in the rind and bark, breaketh not forth at all, as in the bodies of trees, and stalks of herbs, till they begin to branch; and then when they make an eruption, they break forth casually, where they find best way in the bark or rind. It is true, that some trees are more scattered in their boughs; as sallow-trees, wardentrees, quince-trees, medlar-trees, lemon-trees, etc. some are more in the form of a pyramis, and come almost to todd; as the pear-tree, which the critics will have to borrow his name of ę, fire, orange-trees, fir-trees, service-trees, lime-trees, etc. and some are more spread and broad; as beeches, hornbeam, etc. the rest are more indifferent. The cause of scattering the boughs, is the hasty breaking forth of the sap; and therefore those trees rise not in a body of any height, but branch near the ground. The cause of the pyramis is the keeping in of the sap long before it branch; and the spending of it, when it beginneth to branch, by equal degrees. The spreading is caused by the carrying up of the sap plentifully without expence; and then putting it forth speedily and at once.

589. There be divers herbs, but no trees, that may be said to have some kind of order in the putting forth of their leaves: for they have joints or knuckles, as it were stops in their germination; as have gilly-flowers, pinks, fennel, corn, reeds, and canes. The cause whereof is, for that the sap ascendeth unequally, and doth, as it were, tire and stop by the way. And it seemeth they have some closeness and hardness in their stalk, which hindereth the sap from going up, until it hath gathered into a knot, and so is more urged to put forth. And therefore they are most of them hollow when the stalk is dry, as fennel-stalk, stubble, and


590. Flowers have all exquisite figures; and the flower numbers are chiefly five, and four; as in primroses, brier roses, single musk roses, single pinks, and gilly-flowers, etc. which have five leaves: lilies, flowerde-luces, borage, bugloss, etc. which have four leaves. But some put forth leaves not numbered; but they are ever small ones; as marygolds, trefoils, etc. We

see also, that the sockets and supporters of flowers are
figured; as in the five brethren of the rose, sockets of
gilly-flowers, etc. Leaves also are all figured; some
round; some long; none square ; and many jagged
on the sides; which leaves of flowers seldom are. For
I account the jagging of pinks and gilly-flowers, to be
like the inequality of oak leaves, or vine leaves, or the
like: but they seldom or never have any small purls.

Experiments in consort touching some principal
differences in plants.

591. Of plants, some few put forth their blossoms before their leaves; as almonds, peaches, cornelians, black thorn, etc. but most put forth some leaves before their blossoms; as apples, pears, plums, cherries, white thorn, etc. The cause is, for that those that put forth their blossoms first, have either an acute and sharp spirit, and therefore commonly they all put forth early in the spring, and ripen very late; as most of the particulars before mentioned, or else an oily juice, which is apter to put out flowers than leaves.

592. Of plants, some are green all winter; others cast their leaves. There are green all winter, holly, ivy, box, fir, yew, cypress, juniper, bays, rosemary, etc. The cause of the holding green, is the close and compact substance of their leaves, and the pedicles of them. And the cause of that again is either the tough and viscous juice of the plant, or the strength and heat thereof. Of the first sort is holly; which is of so viscous a juice, as they make birdlime of the bark of it. The stalk of ivy is tough, and not fragile, as we see in other small twigs dry. Fir yieldeth pitch. Box is a fast and heavy wood, as we see it in bowls. Yew is a strong and tough wood, as we see it in bows. Of the second sort is juniper, which is a wood odorate; and maketh a hot fire. Bays is likewise a hot and aromatical wood; and so is rosemary for a shrub. As for the leaves, their density appeareth, in that either they are smooth and shining, as in bays, holly, ivy, box, etc. or in that they are hard and spiry, as in the rest. And trial would be made of grafting of rosemary, and bays,

[ocr errors]

and box, upon a holly-stock; because they are plants that come all winter. It were good to try it also with grafts of other trees, either fruit trees, or wild trees; to see whether they will not yield their fruit, or bear their leaves later and longer in the winter; because the sap of the holly putteth forth most in the winter. It may be also a mezerion-tree, grafted upon a holly, will prove both an earlier and a greater tree.

593. There be some plants that bear no flower, and yet bear fruit: there be some that bear flowers and no fruit: there be some that bear neither flowers nor fruit. Most of the great timber trees, as oaks, beeches, etc. bear no apparent flowers; some few likewise of the fruit trees; as mulberry, walnut, etc. and some shrubs, as juniper, holly, etc. bear no flowers. Divers herbs also bear seeds, which is as the fruit, and yet bear no flowers; as purslane, etc. Those that bear flowers and no fruit are few; as the double cherry, the sallow, etc. But for the cherry, it is doubtful whether it be not by art or culture; for if it be by art, then trial would be made, whether apple, and other fruits blossoms, may not be doubled. There are some few that bear neither fruit nor flower; as the elm, the poplars, box, brakes, etc.

594. There be some plants that shoot still upwards, and can support themselves; as the greatest part of trees and plants: there be some other that creep along the ground; or wind about other trees or props, and cannot support themselves; as vines, ivy, brier, briony, woodbines, hops, climatis, camomile, etc. The cause is, as hath been partly touched, for that all plants naturally move upwards; but if the sap put up too fast, it maketh a slender stalk, which will not support the weight: and therefore these latter sort are all swift and hasty comers.

Experiments in consort touching all manner of composts, and helps of ground.

595. The first and most ordinary help is stercoration. The sheeps dung is one of the best; and next the dung of kine: and thirdly, that of horses, which is held to be somewhat too hot unless it be mingled.

That of pigeons for a garden, or a small quantity of ground, excelleth. The ordering of dung is, if the ground be arable, to spread it immediately before the ploughing and sowing; and so to plough it in: for if you spread it long before, the sun will draw out much of the fatness of the dung: if the ground be grazing ground, to spread it somewhat late towards winter; that the sun may have the less power to dry it up. As for special composts for gardens, as a hot bed, etc. we have handled them before.

596. The second kind of compost is, the spreading of divers kinds of earths; as marle, chalk, sea sand, earth upon earth, pond earth: and the mixtures of them. Marle is thought to be the best, as having most fatness; and not heating the ground too much. The next is sea sand, which no doubt obtaineth a special virtue by the salt: for salt is the first rudiment of life. Chalk over-heateth the ground a little; and therefore is best upon cold clay grounds, or moist grounds: but I heard a great husband say that it was a common error, to think that chalk helpeth arable grounds, but helpeth not grazing grounds; whereas indeed it helpeth grass as well as corn: but that which breedeth the error is, because after the chalking of the ground they wear it out with many crops without rest; and then indeed afterwards it will bear little grass, because the ground is tired out. It were good to try the laying of chalk upon arable grounds a little while before ploughing; and to plough it in as they do the dung; but then it must be friable first by rain or lying. As for earth, it composteth itself; for I knew a great garden that had a field, in a manner, poured upon it; and it did bear fruit excellently the first year of the planting for the surface of the earth is ever the fruitfullest. And earth so prepared hath a double surface. But it is true, as I conceive, that such earth as hath salt-petre bred in it, if you can procure it without too much charge, doth excel. The way to hasten the breeding of salt-petre, is to forbid the sun, and the growth of vegetables. And therefore if you make a large hovel, thatched, over some quantity of ground;

« PreviousContinue »