« PreviousContinue »
they were subjected, — from being too much or too little watered, — from the spray of the sea, -or, when protected from this spray, from the exclusion of light. The venerable Menzies informed me that, on his return from his last voyage round the world with Vancouver, he lost the whole of his plants from this latter cause. Again, if the voyage lasts longer than usual and the water runs short, it is not every one who has the care of plants that will imitate the example of the patriotic M. de Clieux, who, in 1717, took charge of several plants of coffee that were sent to Martinico, and approved himself worthy of the trust. The voyage being long and the weather unfavourable, they all died but one; and the whole ship's company being at length reduced to short allowance of water, this zealous patriot divided his own share between himself and the plant committed to his care, and happily succeeded in carrying it safe to Martinico, where it flourished, and was the parent stock whence the neighbouring islands were supplied.
When I reflected upon the above causes of failure, it was obvious that my new method offered a ready means of obviating all these difficulties, so far at least as regarded ferns, and plants growing in similar situations; and in the beginning of June, 1833, I filled two cases with fems, grasses, &c., and sent them to Sydney under the care of my zealous friend Capt. Mallard, whose reports on their arrival will be found in the Appendix.
The cases were refilled at Sydney in the month of February, 1834, the thermometer then being between 90° and 100°. In their passage to England they encountered very varying temperatures. The thermometer fell to 20° in rounding Cape Horn, and the decks were covered a foot
deep with snow. At Rio Janeiro the thermometer rose to 100°, and in crossing the line to 120°. In the month of November, eight months after their departure, they arrived in the British Channel, the thermometer then being as low as 40°.
These plants were placed upon the deck during the whole voyage and were not once watered, yet on their arrival at the docks they were in the most healthy and vigorous condition; and I shall not readily forget the delight expressed by Mr. George Loddiges, who accompanied me on board, at the beautiful appearance of the fronds of Gleichenia microphylla, a plant never before introduced alive into this country. Several plants of Callicoma serrata had sprung up from seed during the voyage, and were in a very healthy state.
My next experiment was with plants of a higher order. Ibrahim Pacha, being desirous of procuring useful and ornamental plants for his garden near Cairo, and at Damascus, I was requested by his agents to select them, and they were sent out in August, 1834, in the Nile steamer, to Alexandria. They arrived quite healthy after a passage of two months.* On a subsequent occasion a case-full of coffee plants was dispatched with the like successful result. It is needless to particularize any more instances, as Messrs. Loddigest have sent out more than four hundred cases to all parts of the world, with uniform success when the proper conditions were observed ; and I believe that the plan, where known, is universally adopted. The French and the English Governments have moreover ordered these cases to be used in their expeditions of discovery; and there are few, I imagine, who will now imitate the ill-timed
* Vide Appendix, D.
+ Vide Appendix, G.
economy of Mons. Guillemin, who was sent by the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce at Paris, to Brazil, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the culture and preparation of the tea-plant, and the introduction of this shrub into France. Mons. G. had personal knowledge of the efficacy of the closed plan, having carried out Camellias to Rio in one of my cases; and he says that his first plan had been to construct boxes on Mr. Ward's system, but the heavy price* deterred him ; while the safety with which he had brought his fruit-treest from Europe, in a box with sliding panels, induced him to fix finally on this latter mode of construction.
The results I will give in his own words.—“ Very pleasing was the sight to me, when, the day after the Heroine had sailed, (May the 20th, 1839), I beheld my eighteen precious boxes arranged two and two in such a situation as kept them steady and level, permitted them to receive light, and to have the moveable panels closed in bad weather. The vigour of my tea-plants, and the lovely verdure of their foliage, had been generally admired at Rio, and I fondly anticipated the most prosperous results from my expedition. But short-lived was this satisfaction. Two days after heavy north winds drove us off our course, the sea became more boisterous than is usual in these latitudes, and the necessity for closing the ports, lest the spray should irrevocably ruin my plants, caused them a
* The cost of glazing the whole of Mons. G.'s cases would not have exceeded £20.
+ Had Mons. G. reflected for one moment upon the different states of the fruit-trees and of the tea-plants,—the former being conveyed at the close, and the latter at the commencement of their active season, - he would not, I think, have acted so unwisely.
great injury by the necessary exclusion of light. To the latter circumstance I attribute the first deterioration of my plants, especially those more recently set. When the sea became calmer, and permitted us to open the portholes, the wind sweeping the surface of the waves cast a fine salt-water spray upon my boxes, which doubtless proved highly injurious, since the contents of those chests that were exposed to the wind suffered much more than those of the other side. By the 11th of June most of the teas had lost their foliage, and the stalks even of several had quite dried up. Some of the seeds had germinated; the young shoots were slender, long, blanched, and furnished with a few pale leaves. By the end of July, in latitude 24° north and longitude 42° west, the strongest shrubs were suffering most severely, while some had sent out suckers, and the young seedlings had assumed a greener tint. Capt. Cecille took great interest in the safety of my protégés, and, while the leakage of some of the water-casks had compelled him to put the whole ship's crew on a slender allowance of water, he ordered me an increased quantity for the benefit of the tea-shrubs. The vessel arrived at Brest on the 24th of July, only two months after their departure from Rio, and the shrubs reached Paris in the latter end of August, reduced to 1500 in number, about one-third of the original stock including young seedlings."*
This narrative requires no comment. I believe that not one of the plants would have perished in so short a voyage had they been protected by glass.
Although all persons interested in this matter are pretty well acquainted with the cases in which plants are usually
* I am indebted for this account to Hooker's “Journal of Botany.'
sent on voyages, it may not be amiss to say a word or two respecting them. In preparing them for the voyage some little attention is requisite. The objects to be attained are, to admit light freely to all parts of the growing plant, and to make them sufficiently tight to retain the moisture within and to exclude the salt water from without. To effect the latter purpose the glazed frames should be well painted and puttied some time before they are required
The lower part of the case, which contains the mould, need not be more than 6 or 8 inches in depth; and the plants succeed better if planted in the soil, than in separate small boxes, as in the former case the moisture is more uniformly diffused. The soil should be that in which the plants ordinarily grow, and especial care should be taken that all superfluous moisture should be drained off, as luxuriance of growth is not to be desired. Another point worthy of great attention is to associate plants of equal or nearly equal rapidity of growth. Thus Palms and coniferous plants will travel well together. In a case which arrived at Loddiges, three or four years ago, there were twenty-eight plants of Araucaria excelsa without a single dead or yellow leaf upon them. If, in this case, some free-growing plant had been introduced, the probability is that all the Pines would have perished, in consequence of the rampant plant occupying all the internal surface of the glass, and excluding the light from the others. A great number of plants will travel well in these cases, if merely suspended from the roof, -such as numerous species of Orchidee, Cactuses, and other succulent plants.
When on board, all the care which is requisite is to keep the plants constantly in the light, to remove incrustations