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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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