A Word for Wednesday

Ablaqueation - (L. ablaqueatio, from ab and laquear, a roof or covering) a laying bare the roots of trees to expose them to the air and water - a practice among gardeners

Oh, yes, how's that for a word? ;) It was the first A word I came across that I had no familiarity with, so here we are. I had two thoughts after reading the definition. The first was, Huh, that's interesting. The second was, Why on earth would anyone do that?
So I did some quick research on it. Apparently, its a rather old, now-discontinued gardening technique. Thanks to Google, I was able to find a few passages out of some obscure books that describe the process:

"Ablaqueation, the removing of the earth, and laying bare the roots of fruit trees in winter, that they may be the more readily exposed to the influence of rains, snow, and air, &c., an operation formerly thought necessary for their future welfare; but experience has shown it to be a dangerous practice, especially where the trees are much exposed to the winds, particularly the southwest, which are generally the most violent. The practice of ablaqueation is therefore with very good reason laid aside in the present practice." The Complete Farmer: Or a General Dictionary of Husbandry, in all its Branches; Containing the Various Methods of Cultivating and Improving every Species of Land...(the title literally continues for an entire page and I wasn't about to type the whole thing out. But it is rather amusing to read this gigantic, highly-detailed title if you want to look it up), by A Society of Gentlemen, Members of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing, and Commerce, London, 1777

"Ablaqueation, a name used by the ancient writers of agriculture, for an operation in gardening, whereby earth is dug from about a vine, or other fruit-tree, and its roots laid bare, to expose them the more to the sun, rain, and air, in order to promote its fecundity." Cyclopædia, or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences : containing the definitions of the terms, and accounts of the things signify'd thereby, in the several arts, both liberal and mechanical, and the several sciences, human and divine : the figures, kinds, properties, productions, preparations, and uses, of things natural and artificial : the rise, progress, and state of things ecclesiastical, civil, military, and commercial : with the several systems, sects, opinions, &c : among philosophers, divines, mathematicians, physicians, antiquaries, criticks, &c : the whole intended as a course of ancient and modern learning, by Ephraim Chambers, 1728

(Can you imagine submitting a manuscript to a publisher with a title that long? Or picking it up in a bookstore? My goodness. And that used to be normal!)

So if you ever see someone digging out the roots of their trees, now you'll know what they're doing. Of course, the likelihood of such an event happening is almost non-existent, but you never know. Or, you could do it yourself just because and when people stop to ask you what you're doing, you can confidently say, "I am ablaqueating!"

And now for the storyline (and as a note on this and all future storylines - I'm making them up on the fly so the accuracy of setting/time-period/etc is based on my educated or not-so-educated guesses):

"In sixteenth century England, a young boy is apprenticed to the master gardener of a country lord's estate. As he works to cultivate both the gardens and knowledge under the careful eye of his master, he grows stronger in body, mind, and character. One day, left to ablaqueate the orchard on his own, the ground gives way beneath the blows of his shovel. He tumbles down and down, finally spilling out into an enormous subterranean cavern supported by columns that seem to be made of spiraling sands that froze mid-swirl. Abandoning his duties for the moment, he dares to move further into the cavern, where he discovers that he is not alone."

The end. Or maybe the beginning ;)

What story does ablaqueation put in your mind?


  1. Wow, what a word! (hey look, an alliteration) Interesting. I've never heard or come across that word before, probably cause I stink at gardening. lol.

  2. I know, right? :) I'm not very good at gardening either, lol. I think I could be if I devoted any time to it, but I'd rather read or write.


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