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But it is more particularly necessary in transplanting, that the trees should always be removed to a soil that is similar, or else superior,1 to the one in which they grew before. If taken from warm or early ripening localities, they ought not to be re- moved to cold or backward sites, nor yet, on the other hand, from these last to the former. If the thing can possibly be done, the holes for transplanting should be dug sufficiently long before to admit of their being covered throughout with a thick coat of grass. Mago recommends that they should be dug a whole year beforehand, in order that they may absorb the heat of the sun and the moisture of the showers; or, if circumstances do not admit of this, that fires should be made in the middle of them some two months before transplanting, that being only done just after rain has fallen. He says, too, that in an argillaceous2 or a hard soil, the proper measurement is three cubits every way, and on declivitous spots one palm more, care being taken in every case to make the hole like the chimney of a furnace, narrower at the orifice than at the bottom. Where the earth is black, the depth should be two cubits and a palm, and the hole dug in a quadrangular form.

The Greek writers agree in pointing out much the same proportions, and are of opinion that the holes ought not to be more than two feet and a half in depth, or more than two feet wide: at the same time, too, they should never be less than a foot and a half in depth, even though the soil should be wet, and the vicinity of water preclude the possibility of the soil going any deeper. "If the soil is watery," says Cato,3 "the hole should be three feet in width at the orifice, and one palm and a foot at the bottom, and the depth four feet. It should be paved, too, with stones,4 or, if they are not at hand, with stakes of green willow, or, if these cannot be procured, with a layer of twigs; the depth of the layer so made being a foot and a half."

It appears to me that I ought here to add, after what has been said with reference to the nature of trees, that the holes should be sunk deeper for those which have a tendency to run near the surface of the earth, such as the ash and the olive, for instance. These trees, in fact, and others of a similar nature, should be planted at a depth of four feet, while for the others three feet will be quite sufficient. "Cut down that stump," said Papirius Cursor, the general,5 when to the great terror of the prætor of Præneste, he had ordered the lictors to draw6 their axes. And, indeed, there is no harm in cutting away those portions [of the root] which have become exposed. Some persons recommend that a bed should be formed at the bottom, of potsherds or round pebbles,7 which both allow the moisture to pass and retain as much as is wanted; while at the same time they are of opinion that flat stones are of no use in such a case, and only prevent the root from penetrating8 the earth. To line the bottom with a layer of gravel would be to follow a middle course between the two opinions.

Some persons recommend that a tree should not be transplanted before it is two years old, nor yet after three, while others, again, are of opinion that if it is one year old it is quite sufficient; Cato9 thinks that it ought to be more than five fingers in thickness at the time. The same author, too, would not have omitted, if it had been of any importance, to recommend that a mark10 should be made on the bark for the purpose of pointing out the southern aspect of the tree; so that, when transplanted, it may occupy exactly the same posi- tion that it has previously done; from an apprehension that the north side of the tree, on finding itself opposite to a southern sun, might split, and the south side be nipped by the north-eastern blasts. Indeed, there are some persons who follow a directly opposite practice even in the vine and the fig,11 by placing the north side of the tree, when transplanted, towards the south, and vice versa; being, of opinion that by adopting this plan the foliage becomes all the thicker12 and the better able to protect the fruit, which is less liable to fall off in consequence, and that the tree is rendered all the better for climbing. Most people, however, take the greatest care to turn to the south that part of the tree from which the branches have been lopped at the top, little thinking that they expose it thereby to a chance of splitting13 from the excessive heat. For my own part, I should prefer that this part of the tree should face that point of the heavens which is occupied by the sun at the fifth14 or even the eighth hour of the day. People are also equally unaware that they ought not, through neglect, to let the roots be exposed to the air long enough to get dry; and that the ground should not be worked about the roots of trees while the wind is blowing from the north, or, indeed, from any point of the heavens that lies between north and southeast; or, at all events, that the roots should not be left to lie exposed to these winds; the result of such modes of proceeding being, that the trees die, the grower being all the while in total ignorance of the cause.

Cato15 disapproves, too, of all wind and rain whenever the work of transplanting is going on. When this is the case, it will be beneficial to let as much adhere to the roots as possible of the earth in which the tree has grown, and to cover them all round with clods16 of earth: it is for this reason that Cato17 recommends that the young trees should be conveyed in baskets, a very desirable method, no doubt. The same writer, too, approves of the earth that has been taken from the surface being laid at the bottom of the hole. Some persons say,18 that if a layer of stones is placed beneath the root of the pomegranate, the fruit will not split while upon the tree. In transplanting, it is the best plan to give the roots a bent position, but it is absolutely necessary that the tree should be placed in such a manner as to occupy exactly the centre of the hole. The fig-tree, it the slip when planted is stuck in a squill19—such being the name of a species of bulb—is said to bear with remarkable rapidity, while the fruit is exempt from all attacks of the worm: the same precaution, too, in planting, will preserve the fruit of all other trees in a similar manner. Who is there, too, that can entertain a doubt that the very greatest care ought to be taken of the roots of the fig-tree when transplanted?—indeed, it ought to bear every mark of being taken, and not torn, from out of the earth. Upon this subject I omit various other practical precepts, such, for instance, as the necessity of moulding up the roots with a rammer, a thing that Cato20 looks upon as of primary importance; while, at the same time, he recommends that the wound made in the stock should be first covered with dung, and then bound with a layer of leaves.21

1 This is the reason why a soil of only middling quality is generally selected for nurseries and seed-plots; otherwise it might be difficult to transplant the young trees to an improved soil.

2 The ordinary depth, at the present day, is about two feet; but when in an argillaceous soil, as Pliny says, the hole is made deeper. If the soii. is black mould, the hole is not so deep, and of a square form, just as recom- mended by Pliny.

3 De Re Rust. 43.

4 This would be either useless, or positively injurious to the tree.

5 See B. xiv. c. 14. It seems impossible to say with exactness how this passage came to be inserted in the context; but Sillig is probably right in suspecting that there is a considerable lacuna here. It is not improbable that Pliny may have enlarged upon the depth of the roots of trees, and the method of removing them in ancient times. Such being the case, he might think it not inappropriate to introduce the story of Papirius, who, when only intending to have a stump cut down that grew in the way, took the opportunity of frightening the prætor of Præncste, by the suddenness of the order to his lictor, and probably the peremptory tone in which it was given. This was all the more serious to the prætor, as Papirius had been rebuking him just before in the severest terms.

6 From the bundle of fasces, or rods.

7 This precept is borrowed from Virgil, Georg. ii. 348, et seq.

8 There is little doubt that they took the right view.

9 De Re Rust. 28.

10 This precaution is omitted by the modern nurserymen, though Fée is inclined to think it might be attended with considerable advantage, as the fibres of the side that has faced the south are not likely to be so firm as those of the northern side. This precaution, however, would be of more importance with exotic trees than indigenous ones. It is still practised to some extent with the layers of the vine.

11 Fée suggests that Pliny may have here misunderstood a passage in Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. ii. 8, with reference to the planting of the fig.

12 There would be no such result, Fée says.

13 This is a useless precaution; but at the same time, Pliny's fears of its consequences are totally misplaced.

14 At 11 A.M., or 2 P.M.; i.e. between south and south-east, and south and south-west.

15 De Re Rust. 28.

16 Wet moss, or moist earth, is used for the purpose at the present day.

17 De Re Rust. 28. It is most desirable to transplant trees with a layer of the earth in which they have grown; but if carried out to any extent, it would be an expensive process.

18 "Tradunt." This expression shows that Pliny does not give credit to the statement. Columella and Palladius speak of three stones being laid under the root, evidently as a kind of charm.

19 See B. xix. c. 30. A somewhat similar practice is also recommended in B. xv. C. 18; but, of course, as Fée remarks, it can lead to no results.

20 De Re Rust. 28.

21 Fée remarks that this is a useful precaution, more particularly in the case of the coniferous trees, the fig, and others that arc rich in juice; but if universally used, would be attended with great expense. The French use for the purpose a mixture of fresh earth and cow-dung, to which they give the name of "onguent Saint-Fiacre." See p. 481.

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