Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Scion

Grafting a shoot of a fine plant specimen to propagate it widely, or create a more hardy, altered shape or size makes sense. It's been done for years and horticulture as we know it could not exist without grafting. Down deep however, it still seems to me a manipulation of Mother Nature. It's a bit hypocritical on my part to say this, since my garden is, like everyone else's, full of grafted specimens. The nomenclature of the shoot as a "scion" must come from a particular past, when the promising offspring was "grafted" to a new setting. A successful take of such a graft in the case of "scion" would depend on accurate matching of the cambium layers, secure fixation for a period of time and avoiding contamination. Such careful attention to detail was not provided by the grafters and transplanters of the 17th and 18th century that sent excess populations to this shore. It was a higgledy- piggledly mix and included both the pianist's and my family of origin. There were no "scions" there! Some survived, some didn't. There was no matching of people to their cambium layer. There was no consideration of the right season to graft. There was no tight wrapping and waxing for fixation and protection from movement. There were no measures taken to avoid contamination. "Luck and pluck" were the governing principles of that transplantation and grafting. We tend to forget how much we owe our forebears. They are a national treasure, warts and all. Someone hopefully will emerge as the family librarian in each generation to retain history or herstory! Then we will augment the knowledge of who we are, by where we came from, and by what means we were grafted.

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