Conrad Heresbach (and Barnaby Googe) on Graffing

"There are ... but three kindes of Graffing, betwixt the barke and the woode, in the stocke, and implastring, or inoculation. The first sort they call Grafting, the second imbranching, the third inoculation, or imbudding. Such trees as have thickest barkes, and draw most Sappe from the ground, are best graffed betwixt the barke and the wood, as the Figge, the Cherie, and the Olive : those that have thinne rindes, and content themselves with lesse moisture, as if the Sappe leaving the barke, should gather it selfe to the hart, as the Orenge tree, the Apple tree, the Vine, and divers others, in these it is best to open the stock, and graffe in the woode."

Conrad Heresbach (trans. Barnaby Googe) – Foure Bookes of Husbandry (1601)

Some fairly sensible words of advice on the subject of grafting there, from Konrad Heresbach‘s Foure Bookes of Husbandry, which were “Newly Englished, and Encreased” by poet Barnabe Googe and first published in 1577. Ignoring the era-typical, sap-based thinking for a moment, the three methods briefly described – bark / rind grafting, cleft grafting and bud grafting – are methods that are still valid, and still widely used today.

However, Herr Herebsbach, ” a great and learned Counceller to the Duke of Cleves”, according to the introductory ‘Epistle to the Reader – then follows up his initial comments with a whole raft of scion + stock combinations which… well, let’s just say it’s probably best not to try any of these at home. Not if you want your efforts to result in a usefully fruit-bearing tree.

Or at least, they might be Herr Heresbach’s combinations. But then again, they might not, for our Mr. Googe – once again via the Epistle – takes pains to point out that:

"...not thinking it reason, though I have altered his worke, with mine owne readings and observations, ioyned [joined] with the experience of sundrie my friends, to take from him (as divers in the like case have doon) the honour and glory of his own travaile..."

Which, if I’m reading the rather convoluted late Elizabethan English right, is Googe stating that he’s translated Herresbach’s work and then added a whole lot of his and his friends’ own ideas on the subjects at hand. Not that he’s taking Herresbach’s glory, as he accuses others of doing, because he’s giving the Duke of Cleves’ advisor full credit. Well, equal credit. Okay, part credit, but at least it’s a mention. So, you know, he’s plagiarising, but not really plagiarising, because at least he’s admitted that he’s doing it from the off.

Anyhow, here are those aforementioned grafting combinations, in all their weird and wonderful permutations, for the edification and possible entertainment of a reader or two. Brace yourself…

"Some trees are also best Graffed upon other some, the Figge that prospereth best upon the Mulberry stock, and the Plaine tree : the mulbery upon the Chestnut + the Beeche, the Apple, the Peare, the Elme and the white Poplar, wherein if you Graffe, you shall have your mulberries white : upon the same stocke are Graffed the Peare, the Quince, the Medler and the Service : the Peare upon the Pomegranate, the Quince, the Mulberie, and the Almon. If you Graffe your Peare upon a Mulbery, you shall have redde Peares : the Apple is Graffed upon all Peare stockes, and Crab settes, Willow and Poplar : being Graffed upon the Quince, it bringeth foorth the fruite which the Greekes call Melimella: it is also Graffed upon the Plomtree, but being Graffed upon the Plaine tree, it bringeth foorth redde Apples. The Medlar being Graffed upon the Thorne the Graffe groweth to great bignesse, but the stocke continewes small : upon the Pine tree, it bringeth forth sweete fruite, but not lasting. The Peach graffed in the Thorne, or the Beeche groweth to be verie faire, and great: the Almond and the Peach being joined together, and Graffed in the Plomtrtee, will beare a Peach with an Almond in the stone. The Filbert will onely be graffed in the Wilding, not agreeing with any other. The Pomgranate delighteth in divers stockes, as in the Willow, the Bay, the Ashe, the Damson, the Plome, and the Almond, upon all which he prospereth well. The Damson groweth very well upon any kind of wild Peare, Quince, and Apple : The Chestnut liketh well the Walnut, and the Beech. The Cherie refuseth not the companie of the Peach, nor the Turpentine, nor they his : the Quince will well be graffed upon the Barberie : the Mirtle upon the Sallow: the Plom upon the Damson : the Almond upon the Filbert : the Citron, because of his tender Tree, and thinne rinde, will scarcely beare any other graffe, and therefore content himselfe with his owne branche. The Vine that is graffed upon the Cherie tree (Florentine promiseth) will beare Grapes, and graffed upon the Olive, will bring foorth a fruit bearing the name of both his parents, is called Eleostaphiles."

Okay, you know what, I’m going to give Heresbach / Googe “the Plom upon the Damson”. I reckon they’re probably fine with that particular combo.

If you do decide to give any of these weird and wonderful grafting suggestions a go – particularly the Pomegranate-on-Willow, I for one would pay good money to see one of those in full fruit – and if by some freak of nature they do produce a crop, please do come back (in a few years, I suspect) and let me know.

In the meantime, if you’ve ever grafted a fruit tree onto an unusual-for-its-type stock and have decent results to report, then please do tell, via the comments.


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