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THE VITALITY OF SEEDS.

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THE VITALITY OF SEEDS. The Erenint/Standard has an article on" Seeds and Seed-Sowing." from which we take the follow- Seeds vary very greatly in respect to the tinio for which they retain their vitality. It has been asserted by very respectable authorities that the kidney bean will crow after it has lain by for a century; on theother hand the coffee berry perishes if not sown almost im- mediately after it has ripened. We used to be familiar with extraordinary stories about" mummy wheat," which was said to have germinated after lying in the palms of Egyptian mummies for some forty centuries. Careful investigation, however, proved pretty clearly that it was not the corn taken from sarcophagi that grew, but fresh grains that had been mixed with it. In one case, at least, the phenomenon was accounted for by the old grains having been gathered into a common Alexandrian corn jar in which no doubt a few fresh grains had been overlooked. Belief in 111111,1111V wheat" has been entirely discarded by scientific men, though the vitality of the grain under conditions of temperature, drought, and moisture which would kill most seeds, is allowed to be very great. Something of the same tenacity of life as that formerly ascribed to the catacomb wheat has also been ascribed to other kinds of seeds. The well- known botanist, Dr. Lindley, for instance, in one of his works says I have at this moment three plants of raspberries before me which have been raised in the garden of the Horticultural Society from seeds taken from the stomach of a man whose skeleton was found thirty feet below the surface of the earth, at the bottom of a burrow which was opened near Dor- chester. He had been buried with some coins of the Emperor Hadrian II. It is, therefore, pro- bable that the seeds were sixteen or seventeen hundred years old.' It has been demonstrated however, that the raspberry seed has no such tenacity of life, and we believe those who looked a little more closely into the matter came to the conclusion that Dr. Lindlev's assertion was based on insufficient evi- dence. A series of observations carried out under the auspices of the British Association some years ago afforded good reason to believe that the life of seeds can never be thus protracted. Nearly :300 genera were tried, and the great majority lost their germinating power by the end of ten years; 20 were still alive at the end of 20 years, and only two at the end of 40 years. De Candolle tested 368 varieties of seeds, and only 17 of them grew after lying by for 15 years; and even they produced only one or two plants for every 20 seeds. Experiments seem to show that seeds generally deteriorate by being kept, though now and then that deterioration manifests itself in a manner of which the floriculturist is glad to avail himself. It has been said. for instance, that balsam seeds, if kept a little while, will be more likely to produce double flowers than if sown as soon as taken from the plant or the following spring. There are, however. a great many seeds which inevitably perish if not sown the season following their production. The China aster, for in- stance, must be sown the first spring after gathering, or will be of no use. As a general rule it is, no doubt, best to get a fresh supply of seed from a respectable seedsman every year, and to make some sort of use of all that is obtained. It is a mistake to sow too thickly. It is a waste of seed, and it enfeebles the plants. It is better to sow thinly, and what is not required may be given away or exchanged: or perhaps, better still, may be devoted to the embellishment of waste spaces in the open country. Few persons have any idea of the extent to which our fields and woods have been enriched by foreign flowers since we began to import cargoes from all the ends of the earth; and there is really no reason why that which has been done to so large an extent by the unintentional importation of flower seeds m grain and other cargoes, should not be done on a still larger scale by the intelligent efforts of the lovers of flowers. Every season we have an out-ry that the country round many of our large towns- more particularly London is being denuded of its wild tlowers and ferns. If those who cry out would only take a little pains to counteract the mischief, the OT thing would easily be done. When George the Third was told that the public admitted to one of his gar- dens pulled up his flowers. Oh, well," he said, put some more in." That is the most satisfactory method of preventing woods and fields in the vicinity of towns from being stripped of their primroses and bluebells, violets, and ferns. Let those who deplore it make a point of never going abroad in the haunts of these rural beauties without putting into their pockets a little seed to be sprinkled in suitable places, and if amateur gardeners would only devote their surplus stores to the enrichment of the country lanes, many surprising results might be attained. Of course, a great many of our garden favourities could not be propagated as wildlings, but many of them could by a little perseverance and though, of course, they would degenerate, that is no good reason for not trying to establish them. Numbers of the wild flowers that afford us so much pleasure are garden flowers that have escaped into the woods and have degenerated, some of them out of all recognition.

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