Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979


Lecture 7: Propagation, Part 5

An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms

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Contents of this Segment:

Strikes and cuttings reproduce the parent plant exactly. Crown divisions. Varietal disintegration. Use of sand as a rooting medium. The Rachael Spur Dahlia. The difference between strikes and cuttings. Divisions of the crowns is necessary with some plants. The Soil Association. Honey Bees. (13:03)



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New Market, Virginia, September 12, 1979


Lecture 7, Propagation, Part 5


The other method of propagation is known as strikes and cuttings. Now there’s a difference between the two. Strikes and cuttings are a vegetative, propagative method whereby you can reiterate your plant to its parent, a complete likeness to its parent. Provided you are going to grow it in the same soil, in the same area, you could produce the identity of the parent. From seed, we have explained, you cannot. You have gone into “pardaes," paradise, and you have brought out the secret. It’s new, it’s absolutely new. But when you take from the parent: a bud from a tree, or a crown presentment shoot from a plant, or the division of a plant, with shoots, with parts of roots—you are continuing the performance of that parent and you become articulate. So if you produce a scabiosa of that color and that form—and all scabious, you realize, are various colors: white, very dark maroon, rose; they can take a great many colors—so that if you want to reiterate any of this, you must do it by a vegetative means or by a form of classic seed production which comes very near to it. But I am talking about exact reproduction.

For instance, with those dwarf dahlias—now those are Sunburst. And if you were to take the seed from that bed, which is down there, all the seed of it, you wouldn’t get exactly one of those next year. But you would think that you have got the whole bunch of that, and you would see some that you hadn’t seen before. They would have some stripes in them. It has done some extraordinary oddities, but they would all be variations on a theme. But supposing somebody came round the garden and said, “You see the one facing me, the orange colored one, the vermilion one that looks rather like Tithonius.” Supposing somebody came round and said, “Oh, I’ve never seen a dahlia like that. But I must have it.” Well, it is a dwarf dahlia. It is an origin and it doesn’t come true from seed. So what do you do? You can do one of two things. You can either reiterate from the tuber and increase from the tuber, whereby every one of them will become identical to that. But you have entered varietal disintegration, which we will discuss mostly when we come to the orchard.

On the contrary, you can, when that starts to grow in the inclination, in March or April when you start the strike to grow again, for those tubers are perennial, you can take the little shoots known as strikes or cuttings. And you can place those in sand, in warmth, and they will root, having made a knuckle. And every one of them that you strike from that plant will come true. And so you could call that…what is your name again? (“Rachel Spur, Spur”) Sorry, it’s me. Now supposing you were at a flower show and you were a very dear old lady now, with lorgnettes, you see, going round, “Oh that is charming isn’t it?” [ ] “Rachel Spur. Four and a half dollars each, four dollars fifty.” “I must have ten of those.” Now you see, the moment that comes out, and the world comes to see it, they fall in love with it, and you propagate it. And so if you want to give the true identity of that, and somebody says, “I only want Rachel Spur, I don’t want any of the others,” or you may choose six others with it and have different names. You can only propagate it that way. From seed you will certainly not come true with Rachel Spur. Rachel Spur will give you George Beneficent, do you follow? Therefore you must see how of what purpose is this matter of using strike and cutting.

Now the difference between a strike and a cutting is this: a cutting is that you cut below a node on a stalk where there are two leaves, at an angle, acutely. You see that bit of greenery? We would call that a leaf, and you would cut directly below that at an angle. The reason for that angle is to give you as much stalk play, node play to make the knuckle as big as possible to make the root performance. Now, that is a cutting and you will take it with a very sharp pruning knife or an excellent pair of secateurs, so as to have no bruising. A strike is that… Eh, there is nothing here that I do it with, but I will show it to you sometime. You take a piece that has pieces coming off. Now those pieces coming off are younger than the piece that they come off. In other words, you have a piece of plant, a stem, with small stems coming off. Now you take each of those small stems with your left hand and your main [ ] and you tear them downwards so that you are tearing what? You are pulling out the molar root of the bud, that is where the leaf joined the stem before. And that molar root is older than that piece of growth. And that will propagate much more quickly and much more strongly, and make the knuckle almost immediately and faultlessly. So a strike is always vastly superior to a cutting.

Now look you, what have we done? In the whole of this presentment, because we wanted to reiterate something, you have taken a strike and a cutting and that’s what we are referring to. And what have you got? The Luciferic. Well where is the rest of it, because it is all one? You see, in our mind, we think of leaves, air, root, soil. I ask you to reverse it. That puts you where you ought to be. So you have suddenly got a head without a body. Do you comprehend? And that the manufacture of that root is never going to be ordinate with the rest of it again. It’s come in with a different ratio of the revolutionibus. It’s a different timing. And although it works, this is obviously the entity of the entry of varietal disintegration. And eventually that plant will pass out. And we would probably call it disease, or an infection, or a malignancy. Do you follow? It’s the four Archangels.

In many cases, for instance with the Acanthus, the Acanthus lily, that beautiful plant, here you’ve got a very interesting matter. That you cannot take the actual shoots or the foliage of that plant and strike it. You must take a piece of crown presentment. And that applies to the whole family of Rue, rhubarb. You’ve got to divide the root up. You can’t strike from the leaves and the foliage and the growth of the plant. Doesn’t. And interestingly enough, with many of those plants, you must look at this, the Acanthus in particular. For the first year, it makes a particular foliage that is small and diminished. If you were to take a piece of the crown presentment root the first year, the whole plant would not grow out of that and you would have decreased the enormity of the beauty of the Acanthus. The second year it has the next performance and the third year it is there. Do you comprehend what I am pointing at? Good.

It might interest you to realize that certain plants, of course they are many, and we have so little, what you call, true comprehension today to go on. And this is the great object of this, which is being done as you know in Switzerland at … [ ] … Dartington Hall and such places, there are huge matters going on. The Soil Association newspaper that you have, it’s an incredible matter. I beg you not to overlook it. It’s one of the stars of the world left in a whole whirlpool of witches
But that Arthousa synacium [?], this incredibly dangerous little weed that will destroy you in two to four minutes, as you know for certain, and the beautiful little Germaria. They’re both remnants. They come right out of the Neolithic Age. And you see, when one talks of bees not having changed, they’re ordinants. They’re mathematics for their behavior, known intimately for a period of five million years… and you bring that down to the White House government. And that seeds buried in the groundand I spoke of this connected with fertilization yesterdaythere are those that perform fertilization immediately and that have obviously their values in that fertilization. And that when you think it is cruel to cut a lettuce, the stars do not think it cruel to use their birth of seeds…



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