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plums grow on stalks shorter than themselves.
The number of the cultivated sorts is
very considerable; sufficient, in fact, to have
been grouped by pomologists into nine grand
divisions or races. The most esteemed old
varieties appear to be natives of Asia Minor, of
the environs of Damascus especially; witness
the damsoni.e. damascene. Their introduction
to Italy is referred as far back as the time
of Cato the elder. But several most delicious
kinds have been raised within quite a recent
period; and more, we believe, are only waiting
to be called forth by horticultural skill. A new
ambrosial plum would be as satisfactory a result
by hybridisation as a new dahlia, or even a new
rose. Brilliant colours, perfect forms, and sweet
perfumes are charming, but unsubstantial;
whereas a plum, if it will not fill the stomach,
will allay thirst and stop a little gap. In the
central and southern parts of Europe, excellent
plums may be tastedwith juicy, sweet, and
melting fleshthe exact counterparts of which
are, probably, not to be found in England. As
an object in view heightens the pleasure of a
tour, we may suggest the desirability of
somebody's making a tour of plum discovery.

The wood of the plum-tree is hard, close-grained,
handsomely veined, and capable of
receiving a high polish. Its colour is heightened
by immersion in lime-water. The plum-tree,
like the cherry-tree, is liable to gumming from
wounds; choice kinds are therefore better
propagated by budding than by grafting: The
amateur gardener may bud for himself; any one
who can bud a rose can bud a plum; and ladies
can amuse themselves by performing the operation
all the more fearlessly, as there are no
hooked thorns to be battled with. It is a real
satisfaction, as the writer can testify, to eat
plums or cherries from a bud one has oneself

Stocks for budding are obtained either by
sowing the stones (previously laid in heaps,
with earth or sand), or by the suckers thrown
up by old-established trees. Seedlings produce
much the stronger and longer-lived specimens,
but of slow growth during the first few years;
nurserymen, consequently, often prefer to make
use of suckers, which come to market more
rapidly, but which make inferior fruit-trees in
the long run. The amateur gardener, who can
afford to wait, will make a point of having none
but seedling stocks, if for no other reason than
that plants from suckers give endless plague by
throwing up numerous suckers themselves, which
must be removed as fast as they make their
appearance. Plums wished to be kept dwarf
may be worked on the sloe; others on the
mirabelle, the magnum bonum, or any other
vigorous seedling. The damson is reputed a
bad stock, though the coarser kinds may be
budded on it. From the middle of July to the
middle of August is the best time to perform
the operation, taking advantage of any thunderstorm
which soaks the earth and causes the sap
to flow more freely. Common kitchen plums
as damsons, bullaces, and harvest plumsmay
be raised from stones or suckers without the
trouble and delay of budding.

A good plum is one of the most wholesome
and agreeable fruits with which horticultural
skill has supplied our tables. Its soft and
sugary flavour is heightened by a delicate aroma,
which loses nothing by cookery. If its juicy
flesh contain no great amount of nutriment, it
is at least easy of digestion.

The numerous ways in which plums can be
prepared add considerably to their commercial
value, and render their culture extremely
important in certain districts of the Continent.
They are made into preserves of different kinds,
both with and without sugar. In the latter
case, the cooking process is greatly prolonged,
until the concentration of their natural sugar
makes the addition of any other unnecessary.
By fermentation, alcoholic liquors, raki, and
zwetschenwasser, are obtained from plums.
Plums also are preserved, like cherries, in
brandy; the smaller kinds, as the mirabelle,
being preferred for the making of plum-brandy.

Dried plums (known here as French plums,
as pruneaux in France) are slowly and carefully
desiccated, in the sunshine and in an oven
alternately. Lately, special ovens and apparatus
have been contrived, which hasten the operation
and render it more certain. Dried plums are
the object of a considerable trade in different
parts of France, particularly in the Touraine
and the Agenois. In the latter province, the
grand centre of production is Villeneuve d'Agen,
and Especially the cantons of Clairac and St.
Livrade; so that the title "pruneaux d'Agen"
is based on an exactitude. In those localities
the culture of the plum takes the lead of all
other husbandry. The varieties principally
employed for drying are the prune robe de sergeant
and the prune de roi. The department of the
Var, and notably the town of Brignolles, are
likewise celebrated for the dried plums with
which they regale all the north of Europe.

It is a pity that so few things on this earth
should be perfect. A small tree, of convenient
height, needing little care, capable of resisting
our severest winters, which can (if circumstances
allow it to do so) annually supply a crop of
luscious fruit, which crop continues to be
supplied by the different varieties in long succession,
from the beginning of July to the end of
November, surely approaches perfection as a hardy
fruit-tree. And yet it is very far from perfect.
One little peculiarity of its constitution often
renders all its other good qualities unavailing.
Its time of flowering is so early, that not
unfrequently its blossoms are completely cut off
by frosts, before the leaves have had time to
come forth and protect them. So early, indeed,
do they come, that several kinds are worth
planting (the mirabelles, for instance) merely
as flowering shrubs, for the sake of the brilliant
standard of white which they display while all
around them is bare, leaving any chance of fruit
entirely out of consideration.

To obviate the consequences of such early
blooming, we make wall-trees of choice varieties