"Dwarf Trees" from Richard Newbecker in The Flower Grower

      "Hints on the Growing of Japanese Dwarf Trees" (1921):

       "IT IS BUT NATURAL that the lover of ornamental horticulture, or home gardener, looks with considerable interest and admiration upon the lovely specimens of Japanese dwarf grown trees.
       "Many a friend of horticulture has often been tempted to pay a very fancy price to take home a dwarf tree in full bloom, around Christmas time or during the dull winter months, to grace his confines.  It is often thought that in order to grow a dwarf specimen for ornamental purposes, of any species of trees, certain dwarf grown stock must be obtained, but this is an error.  The writer himself has grown a dwarf lemon tree, which is twelve years old, yet measures only 14-3/4 inches in height, from seed taken from a common lemon purchased at the grocery store.  The method of growing these ornamental and interesting trees is so simple that the lover of horticulture can bring forth a regular orchard of fruit trees in bloom, within the confines of a square yard of ground or less.  But it is necessary to confine his attention to this slow but interesting work to be finally rewarded, to see his dwarf trees spring forth into bloom on some bleak winter's day when trees outside and ground are covered with snow and look dead and barren.
       "Dwarf trees play an important part in Japanese horticulture, and landscape gardening plays an important part in miniature throughout the land of Nippon, and to show the perfect accuracy, so loved by its creators, trees grown to a certain scale are necessary for its completion.  Thus was the custom originated of growing dwarf trees in Japan, from where they first came, and where certain dwarf trees have been known to attain the age of 150 years and more.
       "In the growing of these ornamental trees the whole procedure of culture can be summed up as being the reverse of nature's methods; in fact, the growing of dwarf trees does not consist in 'the survival of the fittest,' on the contrary, is rather the survival of the unfittest.
       "In starting the dwarf tree from seed, a poor, weak seed is picked out and planted.  As soon as it shows growth, and has attained shoots, the leading shoot should be trimmed off; when other shoots appear they should be carefully watched.  As soon as one shoot exhibits a strength and vitality greater than its companion shoot, it should at once be cut off, and the weaker shoot left untouched, in order to form leading stem or trunk of the future dwarf tree.
       "This system of trimming should be followed regularly, watering of plants should seldom be done, and then only in very meagre quantities, just enough to keep the little plant actually alive.  The tree should be kept in a pot too small for its full root development, and the roots should be continuously pruned, while the shoots are carefully trained and bent to follow the profile of a full grown large tree.
       "All this, of course, requires great patience, but the horticulturist who has the determination and knows that wonders cannot be accomplished in one year, may well continue at the task."
       "After a period of about five years of treatment of this nature, the tree can practically be left to take care of itself, as by this time it has become accustomed to its training, and through force of habit will follow the course laid out for it."
       "By following this method, some very magnificent specimens of dwarf trees can be grown, which in their miniature beauty and majesty will compare favorably with similar of these specimens growing in the orchard, or the wild, untrained forests, as the case may be."


1    Newbecker, Richard  "Hints on the Growing of Japanese Dwarf Trees," The Flower Grower, (New York: Madison Cooper), Vol. VIII, No. 7, July 1921, pg. 125.

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