Syring, jasmine and other Exoticks
We do not exclude this useful tree from those of the glandiferous and forest ; but being inclin’d to gratify the curious, I have been induc’d to say some-thing farther of such semper virentia, as may be made to sort with those of our own, (especially of the next Chapter.) I begin with the
1. Cork, [suber] of which there are two sorts (and divers more in the Indies) one of a narrow, or less jagged leaf, and perennial ; the other of a broader, falling in Winter ; grows in the coldest parts of Biscay, in the north of New-England, in the south-West of France, especially the second species, fittest for our climate ; and in all sorts of ground, dry heaths, stony and rocky mountains, so as the roots will run even above the earth, where they have little to cover them; all which considered, methinks we should not despair. We have said where they grow plentifully in France; but by Pliny, Nat. Hist. 1. I 6. c.8. it should seem they were since transplanted thither ; for he affirms there were none either there, or in Italy, in his time : But I exceedingly wonder that Carolus Stephanus, and Cursius, should write so peremptorily, that there were none in Italy ; where I my self have travell’d through vast woods of them about Pisa, Aquin, and in divers tracts between Rome, and the kingdom of Naples, and in France. The Spanish cork is a species of the enzina, differing chiefly in the leaf, which is not so prickly ; and in the bark, which is frequently four or five inches thick : The manner of decortication thereof is once in two or three years, to strip it in a dry season ; otherwise, the intercutaneous moisture endangers the tree, and therefore a rainy season is very pernicious ; when the bark is off, they unwarp it before the fire, and press it even, and that with weights upon the convex part, and so it continues, being cold.
2. The uses of cork is well known amongst us, both at sea and land, for its resisting both water and air : The fisher-men who deal in nets, and all who deal with liquors, cannot be without it : Ancient persons prefer it before leather for the soles of their shooes, being light, dry, and resisting moisture, whence the Germans name it Pantoffel-holts (slipperwood) perhaps from the Greek IlUl,T4 & ,FXXos ; for I find it first applied to that purpose by the Grecian ladies, whence they were call’d light-footed ; I know not whether the epithet do still belong to that sex ; but from them it’s likely the Venetian dames took it up for their monstrous choppines ; affecting, or usurping an artificial eminency above men, which nature has denied them. Of one of the sorts of cork are made pretty cups, and other vessels, esteem’d good to drink out of for hectical persons : The Egyptians made their coffins of it, which being lin’d with a resinous composition, preserv’d their dead incorrupt : The poor people in Spain, lay broad planks of it by their beds-side, to tread on (as great persons use Turky and Persian carpets) to defend them from the floor, and sometimes they line or wainscot the walls, and inside of their houses built of stone, with this bark, which renders them very warm, and corrects the moisture of the air : Also they employ it for bee-hives, and to double the insides of their contemplores, and leather-cases, wherein they put flasquéra’s with snow to refrigerate their wine. This tree has beneath the cortex or cork, two other coats, or libri, of which one is reddish, which they strip from the bole when ’tis fell’d only ; and this bears good price with the tanner ; The rest of the wood is very good firing, and applicable to many other uses of building, palisade-work, &c. The ashes drunk, stop the bloody-flux.
3. Ilex, major glandifera, or great scarlet-oak of several species, and various in the shape of their leaf, pointed rounder, longer, &c. (a devoted tree of old, and therefore incaedua) thrives manifestly with us ; witness His Majesty’s privy-garden at White-hall, where once flourish’d a goodly tree, of more than fourscore years growth, and there was lately a sickly imp of it remaining : And now very many rais’d by me, have thriv’d wonderfully, braving the most severe Winters, planted either in standards or hedges, which they most beautifully become. The only difficulty is in their being dextrously removed out of the nursery, with the mould adhering to the roots ; other-wise apt to miscarry ; and therefore best trusting to the acorn for a goodly standard, and that may be removed without prejudice, tryals should be made by graffing the ilex in the oak-stock, taken out of our woods, or better, grown from the acorn to the bigness of one’s little finger.
4. By what I have touch’d in the chapter of the elms, concerning the peregrination of that tree into Spain, (where even in Pliny’s time there were none, and where now they are in great abundance) why should we not more generally endeavour to propagate the ilex amongst us ; I mean, that which the Spaniards call the enzina, and of which they have such woods, and profitable plantations ? They are an hardy sort of tree, and familiarly rais’d from the acorn, if we could have them sound, and well put up in earth or sand, as I have found by experience.
5. The wood of these ilex’s is serviceable for many uses, as stocks of tools, mallet-heads, mall-balls, chairs, axletrees, wedges, beetles, pins, and above all, for palisadoes us’d in fortifications. Besides, it affords so good fuel, that it supplies all Spain almost with the best, and most lasting of charcoals, in vast abundance. Of the first kind is made the painter’s lac, extracted from the berries ; to speak nothing of that noble confection alkermes, and that noble scarlet-die the learned Mr. Ray gives us the process of at large, in his chapter of the ilexes ; where also of their medicinal uses : To this add that most accurate description of this tree, and the vermicula ; see Quinqueranus, L. 2. de laud. provid. fol. 48. naturally abounding about Alos. The acorns of the coccigera, or dwarf-oak, yield excellent nourishment for rustics, sweet, and little if at all inferior to the chesnut ; and this, and not the fagus, was doubtless the true esculus of the Ancients, the food of the Golden Age. The wood of the enzina when old, is curiously chambletted, and embroider’d with natural vermiculations, as if it were painted. Note, that the kermes tree does not always produce the coccum, but near the sea, and where it is very hot ; nor indeed when once it comes to bear acorns ; and therefore the people do often burn down the old trees, that they may put forth fresh branches, upon which they find them : This, (as well as the oak, cork, beech, and corylus) is numbred amongst the felices, and lucky-trees : But for what reason, the alaternus (which I am next speaking of) together with the agrifolium [holly] pines, salix, &c. should be excommunicated, as infelices, I know not, unless for their being dedicated to the Infernal Deities ; of which Macrob. Sat. 12. cap. 16. In the mean time, take this for a general rule ; that those were call’d infelices only, which bare no fruit ; for so Livy, lib. 5. nulla, Felix arbor, nihil frugiferum in agro relic-turn. Whence that of Phoaedrus, reciting the ancient trees sacred to the deity, the most desirable being those that were fruitful, and for use.
6. The alaternus, which we have lately receiv’d from the hottest parts of Languedoc, (and that is equal with the heat of almost any country in Europe) thrives with us in England, as if it were an indigine and natural ; yet sometimes yielding to a severe Winter, follow’d with a tedious eastern wind in the Spring, of all the most hostile and cruel enemies of our climate ; and therefore to be artificially and timely provided against with shelter.
7. I have had the honour to be the first who brought it into use and reputation in the kingdom, for the most beautiful and useful of hedges and verdure in the world (the swiftness of the growth consider’d) and propagated it from Cornwall, even to Cumberland : The seed grows ripe with us in August ; and the honey-breathing blossoms afford an early and marvellous relief to the bees.
8. The celastrus (of the same class) ligustrum and privits, so flexible and accommodate for topiary-works, and so well known, I shall need say no more of.
9. The philyrea, (of which there are five or six sorts, and some variegated) are sufficiently hardy, (especially the serratifole) which makes me wonder to find the angustifolia planted in cases, and so charily set into the stoves, amongst the oranges and lemmons ; when by long experience, I have found it equalling our holley, in suffering the extreamest rigours of our cruel frosts and winds, which is doubtless (of all our English trees) the most insensible and stout.
10. They are (both alaternus, and this) raised of the seeds, (though those of the philyrea will be long under ground) and being transplanted for espalier hedges, or standards, are to be govern’d by the shears, as oft as there is occasion : The alaternus will be up in a month or two after it is sown : I was wont to wash them out of the berry, and drying them a little in a cloath, commit them to the nursery-bed. Plant it out at two years growth, and clip it after rain in the Spring, before it grows sticky, and whilst the shoots are tender ; thus will it form an hedge (though planted but in single rows, and at two foot distance) of a yard in thickness, twenty foot high (if you desire it) and furnish’d to the bottom : but for an hedge of this altitude, it would require the friendship of some wall, or a frame of lusty poles, to secure against the winds one of the most delicious objects in nature : But if we could have store of the philyrea folio leviter serrato (of which I have rais’d some very fine plants from the seeds) we might fear no weather, and the verdure is incomparable, and all of them tonsile, fit for cradle-work and umbracula frondium : a decoction of the angustifolia soveraign for sore mouths.
11 . The myrtil. The vulgar Italian wild myrtil (though not indeed the most fragrant) grows high, and supports all weathers and climates ; they thrive abroad in Bretany, in places cold and very sharp in Winter ; and are observ’d no where to prosper so well, as by the sea-coasts, the air of which is more propitious to them (as well as to oranges and !emmons, &c.) than the inland air. I know of one near eighty years old, which has been continually expos’d ; unless it be, that in some exceeding sharp seasons, a little dry straw has been thrown upon it ; and where they are smitten, being cut down near the ground, they put forth and recover again ; which many times they do not in pots and cases, where the roots are very obnoxious to perish with mouldiness. The shelter of a few mats, and straw, secur’d very great trees (both leaf and colour in perfection) this last Winter also, which were planted abroad ; whilst those that were carried into the conserve, were most of them lost. Myrtils (which are of six or eight sorts) may be rais’d of seeds ; as also may several varieties of oranges and lemmons, and made (after some years attendance) to produce fruit in the cold Rhetia and Helvetick valleys ; but with great caution, and after all, seldom prove worth the pains, being so abundantly multiplied of suckers, slips and layers: The double-flower (which is the most beautiful) was first discovered by the incomparable Fabr. Piereshy, which a mule had cropt from a wild shrub. Note, that you cannot give those plants too much compost or refreshing, nor clip them too often, even to the stem ; which will grow tall, and prosper into any shape ; so as arbours have been made of single trees of the hardy kind, protected in the Winter with sheads of straw and reeds. Both leaves and berries refrigerate, and are very astringent and drying, and therefore seldom us’d within, except in fluxes With wine and honey it heals the noisome polypus, and the powder corrects the rankness of the arm-pits, and gousset (as the French term it) to which divers of the female sex are subject : The berries mitigate the inflammations of the eyes, consolidate broken-bones ; and a decoction of the juice, leaves, and berries, dyes the hair black, & enecant vitiligenes, as Dioscorides says, 1. 1. c. 128. And there is an excellent sweet water extracted from the distill’d leaves and flowers : To which the naturalist adds, that they us’d the berries instead of pepper, to stuff and farce with them. Hence the mortadella a mortatula, still so call’d by the Italians, perhaps the pVpT( Ec of Athenaeus, deip. 1. 2. C. 12. The vinum myrtites so celebrated by the 1 ancients, and so the oyl ; And in some places the leaves for tanning of leather : and trees have grown to such substance, as of the very wood curious cups and boxes have been turn’d.
The variety of this rare shrub, now furnishing the gardens and portico’s (as long as the season and weather suits) and even in the severest Winters in the conclave, are cut and contriv’d into various figures, and of divers variegations, most likely to be produc’d by the seeds, as our learned Mr. Ray believes, rather than by layers, suckers, or slips, or from any difference of species : In the mean time, let gardeners make such trials, whilst those most worth the culture, are the small and broad-leav’d, the Tarentine, the Belgick, latifolia, and double-flower’d, and several more among the curious ; and of old, sacred to Venus, so call’d from a virgin belov’d of Minerva, the garlands of the leaves and blossoms, impaling the brows of incruentous, and unbloody victors and ovations.
And now if here for the name only, I mention the myrtus Brasantica, or candle-berry shrub (which our plantations in Virginia, and other places have in plenty) let it be admitted : It bears a berry, which being boil’d in water, yields a suet or pinguid substance, of a green colour, which being scumm’d and taken off, they make candles with, in the shape of such as we use of tallow, or wax rather ; giving not only a very clear and sufficient light, but a very agreeable scent, and are now not seldom brought hither to us, but the tree it self, of which I have seen a thriving one.
12. Lentiscus (a very beautiful evergreen) refuses not our climate, protected with a little shelter, amongst other exposed shrubs, by suckers and layers : It is certainly an extraordinary astringent and dryer, applicable in the hernia, strangury, and to stop fluxes; closes and cures wounds, being infus’d in red-wine, is also us’d to tinge hairs of that colour, to black and brown. Not forgetting the best tooth-pickers in the world, made of the wood ; but above all, the gum for fastning loose-teeth in the gums ; the mastick, gather’d from this profitable bush in the Island of Scio ; beside other uses : And as the lentisc, so may the
13. Olive be admitted, tho’ it produce no other fruit than the verdure of the leaf ; nor will it kindly breath our air, nor the less tender oleaster, without the indulgent winter-house take them in. But the
14. Granata [malus punica] is nothing so nice. There are of this glorious shrub three sorts, easily enough educated under any warm shelter, even to the raising hedges of them, nor indeed affects it so much heat, as plentiful watering : They supported a very severe winter in my garden, 1663, without any trouble or artifice ; and if they present us their blushing double flowers for the pains of recision and well pruning, (for they must diligently be purg’d of superfluous wood) it is recompence enough ; tho’ placed in a very benign aspect, they have sometimes produc’d a pretty small pome : It is a perdifolia in Winter, and growing abroad, requires no extraordinary rich earth, but that the mould be loosen’d and eas’d about the root, and hearty compost applied in Spring and Autumn : Thus cultivated, it will rise to a pretty tree, tho’ of which there is in nature none so adulterate a shrub : ‘Tis best increas’d by layers, approch and inarching (as they term it) and is said to marry with laurels, the damson, ash, almond, mulberry, citron, too many I fear to hold. But after all, they do best being cas’d, the mould well mixt with rotten hogs-dung, its peculiar delight, and kept to a single stem, and treated like other plants in the Winter-shelter ; they open the bud and flower, and sometimes with a pretty small fruit ; the juice whereof is cooling ; the rest of an astringent quality: The rind may also supply the gall for making ink, and will tan leather.
15. The syring [lilac] or pipe-tree, so easily propagated by suckers or layers ; the flower of the white (emulating both colour and flavor of the orange) I am told is made use of by the perfumers ; I should not else have named it among the evergreens ; for it loses the leaf, tho’ not its life, however expos’d in the Winter : There are besides this the purple, by our botanists call’d the Persian julsamine, which next leads me to the other jasmines.
16. The jasmine, especially the Spanish larger flower, far exceeding all the rest, for the agreeable odor and use of the perfumer : The common white and yellow would flower plentifully in our groves, and climb about the trees, being as hardy as any of our periclimena and honey-suckles.
How ’tis increas’d by submersion and layers, every gardner skills ; and were it as much employ’d for nose-gays, &c. with us, as it is in Italy and France, they might make money enough of the flowers ; one sorry tree in Paris, where they abound, has been worth a poor woman near a pistol a year.
There is no small curiosity and address in obtaining the oyl, or essence (as we call it) of this delicate and evanid flower, which I leave to the chymist and the ladies who are worthy the secrets.