Friday, April 10, 2009

John Evelyn's Kalendarium Hortense - February

February is the month for preparing the orchards, the fruit trees in the walled gardens, and planting the hardiest vegetables and flowers.

Hath xxviii days, — long 9h — 24m
Sun rises 7h — 13m — Sets 4h — 45m

To be done
In the Orchard and Olitory-Garden.

The rising and setting of the sun was computed for the first of the month, for London.
PRUNE Fruit-Trees and Vines as yet; for now is your Season to bind, plath, nail and dress, without danger of Frost : This is to be understood of the most tender and delicate Wall-Fruit, not finish'd before; do this before the buds and bearers grow turgid; and yet in the Nectarine and like delicate Mural-Fruit, the later your Pruning the better, whatever has been, and still is, the contrary Custom.Bind, plath, and nail = fastening the trees to their walls.

Dress = covering the pruning scars, usually with pitch or wax.

He is opposing the custom of pruning frost-tender trees early.

And let your Gard'ner endeavour to apply the Collateral Branches of his Wall-Fruits, as near as possible he can (without Violation and unnatural bending and reverting) to the Earth or Borders; so as the Fruit (when grown) may almost touch the Ground : The rest of the Branches following the same Order, will display the Tree like a Ladies Fan, and repress the common exuberance of the leading and middle Shoots, which usually make a too hasty an advance : a Gard'ner expert in this, and the right Art of Pruning, may call himself a Workman sans Reproch.
A well-shaped espalier fruit tree can be a very productive tree, and in the walled gardens of the time, would have been beautiful in bloom. Evelyn prefers the fan shape, but various arrangements of parallel and diagonal branches were created.
Remove Graffs of former years Graffing. Cut and lay Quick-sets; and trim up your Palisade Hedges and Espaliers. Plant Vines as yet, other Shrubs, Hops, &c.
Remove last year's grafts that didn't succeed.
Set all sorts of Kernels and stony Seeds, which Field-Mice will certainly ruine, before they sprout, unless prevented : Also sow Beans, Pease, Rouncevals, Corn-sallet, Marigold, Anniseeds, Radish, Parsenips, Carrots, Onions, Garlick, &c. And plant Potatoes in your worst Ground.Rouncevals = a variety of pea, known for its large size.
Corn-sallet = Valerianella olitoria, a plant used much like lettuce
Anniseeds = Pimpinella anisum, or anise. The leaves were used in salads, stews and soups.

Now is your Season for Circumposition by Tubs or Baskets of Earth, and for laying of Branches to take root. You may plant forth your Cabbage-Plants.Circumposition = planting heavily pruned trees in containers. It produces a dwarfed tree.

Laying of branches = propagating plants by burying the partly severed branch until it roots at the cut, then separating it from the parent.

Plant forth = transplanting seedlings or young plants that were started indoors.

Rub Moss off your Trees after a soaking Rain, and scrape, and cleanse them of Cankers, &c. Draining away the wet (if need require) from the too much moistned Roots, and earth up those Roots of your Fruit-Trees, if any were uncover'd. Continue to dig and manure, if weather permit. Cut off the Webs of Caterpillars, &c. from the Tops of Twigs and Trees to burn. Gather Worms in the Evening after Rain.Rub Moss = Moss was thought to damage the trees.
Cankers = fungal growths, or infected gouges in the bark.
Covering the roots is part of the practice of ablaqueation, first mentioned in January.
Manure = to fertilize
Webs of caterpillars = the protected egg masses of a tent-caterpillar.
Gather worms = at this time, and well into the 19th century, earthworms were considered a garden pest. Charles Darwin's book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms, With Observations on Their Habits, published in 1881, sold even better than On the Origin of Species during Darwin's lifetime.

Kitchin-Garden Herbs may now be planted, as Parsley, Spinage, Onions, Leeks, and other hardy Pot-Herbs. Toward the middle or latter end of this Month, till the Sap rises briskly, graff in the Cleft, and so continue till the last of March; they will hold Apples, Pears, Cherries, Plums, &c. the New Moon, and the Old Wood is best. Now also plant out your Caulyflowers to have early; and begin to make your Hot-Bed for the first Melons and Cucumbers to be sow'd in the Full; but trust not altogether to them. You may all this Month, and the former, have early Sallets on the Hot-Bed and under Glass Frames and Bells. Sow Asparagus. Lastly, Half open your Passages for the Bees, or a little before (if the Weather invite;) but continue to feed weak Stocks, &c.Herbs = in this context, vegetables that were used in soups and stews.

Graff in the cleft = Grafting small twigs into a split branch or trunk of the host tree.

There was competition among the upper class to have the earliest of anything edible or flowering. They used weather protection for tender plants, including hot-beds, cold-frames (a planting box with glass top to trap heat), and glass bells to cover individual plants.

Open your Passages = the bees were shut into the hives for the winter by blocking the exits.

Fruits in Prime, and yet lasting.


Kentish, Kirton, Russet, Holland Pippins; Deux-ans, Winter Queening, Marigold, Harvey sometimes, Pomewater, Pome-roy, Golden-Doucet, Reineting, Lones Pear-main, Winter Pear-main, &c.


Bon-Chrestien of Winter, Winter Poppering, Little Dagobert, &c.


Hath xxviii days, — long 9h — 24m
Sun rises 7h — 13m — Sets 4h — 45m

To be done
In the Parterre and Flower-Garden.

COntinue Baits, Vermine-Traps, &c.Sow Alaternus seeds in Cases, or open Beds; cover them with Thorns that the Poultry scratch them not out. Sow also Lark-Spurs, &c. Now and then air your hous'd Carnations, in warm Days especially, and mild Showers, but if like to prove cold, set them in again at Night.
Alaternus = Rhamnus alaternus, or buckthorn, an evergreen shrub used in making hedges.
air your hous'd Carnations = take the pots of carnations outside in warm weather.
Furnish (now towards the end) your Aviaries with Birds before they couple, &c. And hang up materials for them to build their Nests with.
Note, That such Birds as feed not on Seeds alone, should be separated by a Partition of wyre, from those who feed on bruised Seed, Pastes, fleshy or pulpy Mixtures; as the Sky-Lark, Wood-Lark, Throstle, R. Redbreast, &c.
Keeping song birds was common, and they were also caught for food. I'm not certain if these were to be for exhibition or for eating.

Flowers in Prime, or yet lasting.

Winter Aconite, single Anemonies, and some double, Tulips, Præcoce , Hyacinthus, Stellatus,Vernal Crocus, Black Hellebore, single Hepatica, Persian Iris, Leucoium Bulbosum, Dens Caninus three leav'd, Vernal Cyclamen white and red, Mezereon, Ornithogal. max. alb. Yellow Violets with large Leaves, early Daffodils, &c.

The punctuation gives two possible lists. Perhaps he meant three kinds of tulips (præcoce, hyacinth, and stellar). Or, taking out a different comma, he meant tulips, early hyacinths, and the species tulip called "stellar tulip".

Leucoium Bulbosum = Leucojum vernum, spring
Dens Caninus = Erythronium dens-canis, the "dog-toothed violet". It is a member of the lily family.
. max. alb. = Star of Bethelehem (Ornithogalum arabicum or O. Umbellatum)

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