One marked feature of the people, both high and low, is a love for flowers.
Nature generally struggles against this treatment for a while, until her powers seem in a great measure exhausted, when she quietly yields to the power of the art.
There are about a dozen of these gardens, more or less extensive, according to the business or wealth of the proprietor; but they are generally smaller than the smallest of our London nurseries.
The main stem was then in most cases twisted in a zigzag form, which process checked the flow of the sap, and at the same time encouraged the production of side branches at those parts of the stem where they were most desired.
The Chinese, by their favourite system of dwarfing, contrive to make it, when only a foot and a half or two feet high, have all the characters of an aged cedar of Lebanon.
As the lower parts of the Japanese houses and shops are open both before and behind, I had peeps of these pretty little gardens as I passed along the streets; and wherever I observed one better than the rest I did not fail to pay it a visit.
Junipers are generally chosen for the latter purpose, as they can be more readily bent into the desired form; the eyes and tongue are added afterwards, and the representation altogether is really good.
No doubt these rocky islands have suggested the idea worked out in gardens, and they have been well imitated.
Nothing of the kind; they do all these things in their houses and sheds, with common charcoal fires, and a quantity of straw to stop up the crevices in the doors and windows.
This may be done by grafting, by confining the roots, withholding water, bending the branches, or in a hundred other ways which all proceed upon the same principle.
So high do these plants stand in the favour of the Chinese gardener, that he will cultivate them extensively, even against the wishes of his employer; and, in many instances, rather leave his situation than give up the growth of his favourite flower.
Sometimes, as is the case of peach and plum trees, which are often dwarfed, the plants are thrown into a flowering states, and then, as they flower freely year after year, they have little inclination to make vigorous growth.
The dwarfed trees of the Chinese and Japanese have been noticed by every author who has written upon these countries, and all have attempted to give some description of the method by which the effect is produced.
The tree was evidently aged, from the size of its stem. It was about six feet high, the branches came out from the stem in a regular and symmetrical manner, and it had all the appearance of a tree in miniature.
A small species of pinus was much prized, and, when dwarfed in the manner of the Chinese, fetched a very high price; it is generally grafted on a variety of the stone pine.