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Acorn Trees: Victorian Parlour Ornaments

Acorn trees were used as ornaments in Victorian times. This is how their care and propagation were described in the 'Dictionary of Daily Wants' (1859):

ACORN TREES Very pretty ornaments for the parlour may be produced by setting acorns to germinate in hyacinth glasses, and placing them over the mantel-piece.

Half fill with rain water a white glass, one of those usually employed for bulbous roots. Take a ripe acorn, which has been for a day or two steeped in rain water, or in damp moss or mould; with the aid of a piece of cork or cardboard suspend the acorn about a quarter of an inch above the water. Let the cork or cardboard fit the mouth of the glass tightly so as to exclude the air.

In a few weeks the acorn will begin to grow, and the interesting process of the germination of one of our noblest trees may watched from time to time.

Acorn Tree

When the leaves reach the cork another arrangement must be adopted: the acorn must be raised, the leaves be pushed through the cork or cardboard, and the young plant be suspended in the position shown in the engraving. Should the water become green or turbid, it must be changed; and if any fungi appear upon the acorn, they must be carefully brushed or wiped away.

The oak plants thus produced will, with attention, flourish for two or three years - the most important points for their preservation being the changing of the water, and the cleansing of the root when fungous plants appear. When the acorns are first put to grow, nothing must be done to them except removing the cup; the shell of the acorn must be uninjured.


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