"The Horticulture of the Far East" from Gardeners' Chronicle

      "The Horticulture of the Far East" (1862):

       [Starting after a long first paragraph:]
       Some plants which have recently been sent to this country enable us to form an idea of the state of horticulture better than any description could have done.  We had all heard of the dwarfed trees of China and Japan, but few of us ever had the chance of seeing and examining them until this last year.  It is perfectly astonishing to see the amount of industry and perseverance which the Japanese must have devoted to the production of these plants.  There must be some little Fir trees, not more than a foot in height, and yet I counted upwards of 50 ties by means of which the shoots were bent backward and forward in a zig-zag way.  These little Pines must have been very old, and many years must have been spent in bringing them to this state as their growth under these unfavourable circumstances must have been slow in the extreme.  There was also a specimen of a Podocarpus, or Dammara, with oval leaves beautifully striped with pure white.  This was a large plant 2-1/2 feet high, and nearly as much through.  It was evident that an old narrow-leafed Podocarpus, with a stem 2 inches in diameter, had been taken up, the roots cut in, and the stem headed down to within about 18 inches of the soil, and then the roots crammed into as small a pot as possible.  The stem had been cut off horizontally, and a circle of scions of the oval-leafed species inserted between the bark and the wood.  Most of these had grown, and as they grew the shoots were bent downwards, and twisted in and out, so that the stem was completely hidden in a dense mass of foliage.  This interesting plant is now in the Royal garden at Osborne.  There were many other plants which proved that the Japanese gardeners are very clever in grafting, and employ many modes of performing the operation.  There was one specimen of a Retinospora, the branches of which were bent backwards and forwards as usual, and these branches had been grafted with dozens of scions, at intervals of about an inch apart.  It was only one here and there which had failed; nearly all had grown well and made little tufts of shoots.  Unfortunately this plant had died upon its voyage to England, and it is now deposited, with some other interesting examples of dwarfed trees, in the Coniferous case in the Museum at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.  Some Camellias which were sent home at the same time show that the Japanese understand and sometimes practice in inarching of plants.
       Artificial rock-work is very popular in Japan, and the same idea is carried out among pot-plants, for it seems to be a very fashionable mode of cultivating plants to introduce a conical piece of rough sandstone, green with mosses, and to train the plant over and around it.  In this way we have seen some examples of a new species of Rhynchospermum, with much smaller leaves, and not so strong a grower as the old and useful R. jasminoides; whether it will prove to be as free flowering as the latter remains to be seen, but should this be the case it will be a valuable addition to our collections.  There was, also, a small-leaved Gaultheria-like plant, which had been trained in the same manner over a bit of stone.
       The pots in which some of the Japanese plants were sent home, were almost as worthy of examination as the plants themselves.  They were of very various, and, no doubt, of what is there considered very ornamental forms; but we should look upon them as being both inconvenient and ugly.  In some directions the Japanese seem lavish of their labour; but in others they are very economical, if not niggardly.  Thus, some of the larger plants were trained so as to exhibit one side only, and the surface of the porcelain pot on that side was decorated with paintings in that peculiar style, of which the willow-pattern plate may be taken as the type.  The backs of these pots were left quite plain.
       [and two final paragraphs not of interest here] C.W.C. 


1    Gardeners' Chronicle, No. 2, January 11, 1862, pg. 22.

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