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Autumn Planting

"In due course you will find that autumn with its many tints will set off the darkening clusters with purple hue."

Horace, Odes (II.5)

In De Re Rustica, Columella recommends that pruning not begin before the middle of October, cautioning the farmer to cut the canes at an angle and opposite to that of the bud so that the rain will run both off the cut and away from the bud (IV.9). Nor should he "be ignorant as to what part of the pruning-hook should be used in each operation; for I have learned that a great many men make havoc of vineyards through lack of knowledge on this point."

This late second century AD mosaic from Cirencester shows the personification of Autumn with grapes in her hair and a pruning-hook over her shoulder.

References: Horace: Odes and Epodes (2004) translated by Niall Rudd (Loeb Classical Library); Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella: On Agriculture (1954) translated by E. S. Forster and Edward H. Heffner (Loeb Classical Library). The illustration is from The Oxford History of the Classical World (1986) edited by John Boardman, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray.

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