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Trees are fond of a site more particularly that faces the north-east;1 the breezes rendering their foliage more thick and exuberant, and imparting additional solidity to the wood. This is a point, however, upon which most people are very greatly deceived; thus in vineyards, for instance, the props ought not to be placed in such a position as to shelter the stems from the wind in that quarter, it being only against the northern blasts that this precaution should be taken. Nay, even more than this —if the cold weather only comes on in due season, it contributes very materially to the strengthening of the trees, and promotes the process of germination; while, on the other hand, if at that period the southern2 breezes should caress them, they will grow weak and languid, and more particularly so, if the blossom is just coming on. If rainy weather, too, should happen to follow close upon blossoming, the total destruction of the fruit is the necessary result: indeed, if the weather should be only cloudy, or south winds happen to prevail, it is quite sufficient to ensure the loss of the fruit in the almond and the pear.3 Rains, if prevalent about the rising of the Vergiliæ,4 are most injurious to the vine and the olive,5 as it is at that season that germination6 is commencing with them; indeed, this is a most critical four days for the olive, being the period at which the south wind, as we have already7 stated, brings on its dark and lowering clouds. The cereals, too, ripen more unfavourably when south winds prevail, though at the same time it proceeds with greater rapidity. All cold, too, is injurious to vegetation, which comes with the northern winds, or out of the proper season. It is most advantageous to all plants for north-east winds8 to prevail throughout the winter.

In this season, too, showers are very necessary, and the reason is self-evident—the trees, being exhausted by the fruit they have borne, and weakened by the loss of their leaves, are, of course, famished and hungry; and it is the showers that constitute their aliment. Experience has led us to believe that there is nothing more detrimental than a warm winter; for it allows the trees, the moment they have parted with their fruits, to conceive again, or, in other words, to germinate, and then exhaust themselves by blossoming afresh. And what is even worse than this, should there be several years of such weather in succession, even the trees themselves will die; for there can be little doubt that the effort must of necessity be injurious, when they put forth their strength, and are at the same time deprived of their natural sustenance. The poet9 then, who has said that serene winters are to be desired, certainly did not express those wishes in favour of the trees. And no more does rain, if prevalent at the summer-solstice, conduce to the benefit10 of the vine: while, at the same time, to say that a dusty winter produces a luxuriant harvest, is certainly the mistake of a too fertile imagination. It is a thing greatly to be wished, too, both in behalf of the trees as well as the cereals, that the snows should lie for a considerable time upon the ground; the reason being that they check the escape of the spirit of the earth by evaporation, and tend to throw it back again upon the roots of the plants, adding greatly to their strength thereby; and not only this, but they afford a gradual supply of moisture as well, that is both pure and of remarkable lightness, from the fact that snow is only the foam of the waters of heaven. Hence it is that the moisture of snow does not drench and engulph everything all at once, but gradually trickles downwards, in proportion to the thirst of the plant, nurturing it as though from the breast, instead of producing an inundation. The earth, too, ferments under this influence, and becomes filled with her own emanations: not exhausted by the seeds in her bosom, swollen as they are with milk,11 she smiles in the warm and balmy hours, when the time comes for opening it. It is in this way, more particularly, that corn fattens apace, except, indeed, in those climates in which the atmosphere is always warm, Egypt for example; for there the continuance of the same temperature and the force of habit are productive of the same effects as the modifications of temperature in other countries.

At the same time it is equally necessary in every climate that there should be no noxious influence in existence. Thus, for instance, in the greater part of the world, that precocious germination which has been encouraged by the indulgent temperature of the weather, is sure to be nipped by the intense colds that ensue. Hence it is that late winters are so injurious, and such they prove to the trees of the forest even; indeed, these last are more particularly exposed to the ill effects of a late winter, oppressed as they are by the density of their foliage, and human agency being unable to succour them; for it would be quite impossible to cover12 the more tender forest trees with wisps of straw. Rains, then, are favourable to vegetation-first of all, during the winter season, and next, just previously to germination; the third period for them being that of the formation of the fruit, though not immediately, and only, in fact, when the produce of the tree shows itself strong and healthy.

Those trees which are the slowest in bringing their fruits to maturity, and require a more prolonged supply of nutriment, receive benefit also from late rains, such as the vine, the olive, and the pomegranate, for instance. These rains, however, are required at different seasons by the different trees, some of them coming to maturity at one period and some at another; hence it is that we see the very same rain productive of injury to some trees and beneficial to others, even when they are of the very same species, as in the pear for instance: for the winter pear stands in need of rain at one period, and the early pear at another, though at the same time they, all of them, require it in an equal degree. Winter precedes the period of germination, and it is this fact that makes the north-east wind more beneficial than the south, and renders the parts that lie in the interior preferable to those near the coast,-the former being generally the coldest,-mountainous districts better than level ones, and rain at night better than showers in the day. Vegetation, too, receives a greater degree of benefit from the water when the sun does not immediately soak it up.

Connected, too, with this subject is the question of the best situation for planting vines, and the trees which support them. Virgil13 condemns a western aspect, while there are some persons, again, who prefer it to an easterly one: I find, however, that most authors approve of the south, though I do not think that any abstract precepts14 can be given in relation to the point. The most careful attention on the part of the cultivator ought to be paid to the nature of the soil, the character of the locality, and the respective influences of climate. The method of giving to the vine a southern aspect, as practised in Africa and * * * * is injurious to the tree, as well as unhealthy for the cultivator, from the very circumstance that the country itself lies under a southern meridian: hence it is, that he who selects for his plants there a western or a northerly aspect, will combine on the most advantageous terms the benefits of soil with those of climate. When Virgil condemns a western aspect, there can be no doubt that he includes in his censure a northern aspect as well: and yet, in Cisalpine Italy, where most of the vineyards have an aspect to the north, it has been found by experience that there are none that are more prolific.

The winds are also a very important consideration. In the provinces of Gallia Narbonensis, and in Liguria and part of Etruria, it is considered a proof of great want of skill to plant the vine on a site that lies in the teeth of the wind Circius,15 while, on the other hand, it is a mark of prudence to catch its breezes in an oblique direction; it is this wind, in fact, that modifies the heat in those countries, though at the same time it is usually so violent, as to sweep away the roofs of the houses.

(3.) There are some persons who employ a method of making the question of weather dependent upon the nature of the soil; thus in the case of a vineyard, for instance, in a dry locality, they give it an eastern or a northern aspect; but where it is planted on a humid site, it is made to face the south. From the varieties of the vine also, they borrow various modifications in reference to site; taking care to plant the early vine in a cold locality, in order that the fruit may ripen before the frosts come on; while such fruit trees and vines as have an antipathy to dews are exposed to the east, that the sun may carry off their humidity at the earliest moment. On the other hand, such as manifest a partiality to dews are planted with a western or even a northern aspect, to give them an opportunity of enjoying them all the longer. Others, again, borrowing their notions pretty nearly from Nature, have recommended that vines and trees should be planted facing the north-east; indeed Democritus is of opinion, that by so doing the fruit will be all the more odoriferous.

(4.) We have already spoken, in the Second Book,16 of the points of the north-east and other winds, and shall have occasion in the succeeding one to make mention of several more of the heavenly phænomena. In the mean time, however, we may observe that it would appear to be a manifest proof of the salubrity of a north-east site, that the leaves are always the first to fall in the trees that have an aspect towards the south.17 A similar reason exists, too, in the maritime districts; in certain localities the sea breezes are detrimental, though in most they are nutritious. For some plants, again, it is pleasant to behold the sea at a distance, while at the same time they will gain nothing by approaching closer to its saline exhalations. The same, too, is the influence exercised by rivers and lakes; they will either scorch the vegetation by the fogs they emit, or else modify by their coolness the excess of heat. We have already mentioned18 the plants that thrive in the shade, and in the cold even; but in all these matters experience will be found the best of guides.

1 Or north north-east, as Fée says. He adds that this aspect in reality is not favourable to vegetation. Pliny commits the error of copying exactly from Theophrastus, and thereby giving advice to Roman agriculturists, which was properly suited to the climate of Greece only.

2 This is borrowed from Theophrastus; but, as Fée remarks, if suitable to the climate of Greece, it is not so to that of Italy or France, where vegetation is much more promoted by a south wind.

3 This assertion, Fée says, is erroneous. See B. xvi. c. 46.

4 B. xviii. c. 66.

5 See c. 30 of this Book. These notions as to critical periods to plants connected with the constellations, Fée says, are now almost dispelled; though they still prevail in France, to some extent.

6 "Coitus." See B. xvi. cc. 39 and 42.

7 See B. xvi. c. 46.

8 From Theophrastus, De Causis, B. ii. c. 1.

9 He alludes to the words of Virgil, Georg. i. 100:— "Humida solstitia, atque hiemes orate serenas,
Agricolæ; hiberno lætissima pulvere farra."
Fée remarks, that the cultivators of the modern times are more of the opinion of the poet than the naturalist.

10 Because rains would cause the young fruit to fall off. He here attacks the first portion of the precepts of Virgil; but only, it appears, in reference to the vine

11 "Lactescentibus." Fée remarks on the appropriateness of this expres sion, as the act of germination, he says, in the cereals and all the seeds in which the perisperm is feculent, changes the fecula into an emulsive liquid, in which state the seed may be said, with Pliny, to be "lactescent."

12 Which appears to have been extensively done with the young garden trees.

13 Georg. ii. 398.

14 Taken altogether, a southern aspect is preferable to all others.

15 See B. ii. c. 46.

16 Cc. 46 and 47.

17 He seems to lose sight of the fact that they bud before those that look to the north.

18 B. xvi. cc. 30, 31.

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