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Chap. XX. COLLECTIONS MADE. 353
In the beginning of September, my two months' holiday having expired, I left the islands of the Chusan archipelago for the main land. The southwest monsoon was nearly over, northerly winds were not unfrequent, and the weather was already much cooler. Responsible men on whom I could depend, or rather on whom I had sufficient checks, were now despatched to the great tea districts of Hwuy-chow and Fokien for collections of tea-seeds, and I took up my quarters in the districts near Ning-po. On many occasions during these campaigns I was greatly indebted to the British consuls here for much kindness and hospitality—in the first instance to Mr. Sullivan, now at Amoy, and latterly to Mr. Brooke Robertson. There is an excellent garden at the Ning-po Consulate, and I often took advantage of it for the protection of my plants.
Having procured a large quantity of tea-seeds and young plants, I left the Ning-po districts in the end of December for Shanghae. On my arrival there I found that some good tea manufacturers and lead box makers had been engaged, and everything had succeeded far beyond my most sanguine expectations. A large assortment of implements for the manufacture of tea had also arrived. Nothing therefore remained for me to do except to pack my plants and proceed on my voyage to India.
It was an amusing scene to see these inland Chinamen taking leave of their friends and their native country. A large boat was engaged, and lay alongside the jetty, to take them and their effects from
Shanghae down to the mouth of the river, where the "Island Queen" was at anchor, to start for Hongkong next morning. The landing-place was crowded with the emigrants and their friends. When the hour of departure arrived, the eight Chinese walked on board, and the boat was immediately pushed out into the stream. Now the emigrants on board, and their friends on shore, with clasped hands, bowed to each other many, many times, and the good wishes for each other's health and happiness were not few, nor apparently insincere. Next morning the "Island Queen," Captain M'Farlane, got under way, and we bade adieu to the north of China.
Chap. XXI. PACKING TEA-SEEDS. 355
Experiments with tea-seeds — Best method of sending them to distant countries — How oaks and chestnuts might be transported — Arrive at Calcutta — Condition of the collections — East India Company's botanic garden — Amherstia and other plants in bloom — Proceed onwards — The Sunderbunds q — Arrive at Allahabad — Land journey — Reach Saharunpore — State of the tea-plants — Saharunpore garden — Mussoorce garden — Its trees and other productions — Its value to the country and to Europe.
In the autumn of 1848 I sent large quantities of tea-seeds to India. Some were packed in loose canvas bags, others were mixed with dry earth and put into boxes, and others again were put up in very small packages, in order to be quickly forwarded by post; but none of these methods were attended with much success. Tea-seeds retain their vitality for a very short period if they are out of the ground. It is the same with oaks and chestnuts, and hence the great difficulty of introducing these valuable trees into distant countries by seeds.
In 1849, however, I succeeded in finding a sure and certain method of transporting tea-seeds to foreign countries in full life; and as this method will apply to all short-lived seeds as well as to those of the tea-plant, it is important that it should be generally known. It is simply to sow the seeds in Ward's cases soon after they are gathered.
My first experiment was tried in the following manner. Having procured some fine mulberry-plants from the district where the best Chinese silk is produced, I planted them in a Ward's case in the usual way, and watered them well. In two or three days, when the soil was sufficiently dry, a large quantity of tea-seeds were scattered over its surface, and covered with earth about half an inch deep. The whole was now sprinkled with water, and fastened down with a few crossbars to keep the earth in its place. The case was then screwed down in the usual way, and made as tight as possible.
When the case reached Calcutta the mulberryplants were found to be in good condition, and the tea-seeds had germinated during the voyage, and were now covering the surface of the soil. Dr. Falconer, writing to me upon the receipt of this case, says, "The young tea-plants were sprouting around the mulberries as thick as they could come up."
During this year (1849) large quantities of seeds were sown in other cases between the rows of young tea-plants. These also germinated on their way to India, and reached their destination in the Himalayas in good condition.
When the news of the success of these experiments reached me from India, I determined to adopt the same plan when I packed the cases which I was now taking round under my own care. Tea-seeds were therefore sown in all the cases between the rows of young plants.
Fourteen cases having been packed and prepared
Chap. XXI. TRANSPORTING SEEDS AND PLANTS. 357
in this manner, I had still a large quantity of seeds —about a bushel—remaining on hand. These I determined to dispose of in the following manner. Two glazed cases had been prepared to take a collection of camellias from China to the Botanic Garden at Calcutta. The tea-seeds were emptied out in front of these cases and a small portion of earth thrown in amongst them. A layer of this mixture, which now consisted of about one part earth and two parts seeds, was laid in the bottom of each case, and the camelliaplants were lifted gently out of their pots and placed upon it. The spaces between the plants were then filled up to the proper height with this mixture of tea-seeds and earth, and a little soil was sprinkled upon the surface to cover the uppermost seeds. The whole was then well watered, bars were nailed across to keep the earth in its place, and the lids of the cases were fastened down in the usual manner.
My collections of plants and seeds, which now filled sixteen glazed cases, were in this state when I left Shanghae with the Chinese manufacturers and implements, as described in the last chapter. This was on the 16th of February, 1851. The north-east monsoon was now blowing steadily along the coast of China. This being a fair wind, all sail was set, and in four days we anchored in the bay of Hong-kong, having run little less than one thousand miles. We at once went onwards in the steam-ship " Lady Mary Wood,"' and arrived at Calcutta on the 15th of March. Here we took up our abode with Dr. Falconer, the superintendent of the H.C. Botanic Garden,