This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
Exhibitions of horticultural products have been both a concomitant and a stimulant of progress in American horticulture. The great international expositions ushered in by the Centennial Celebration of 1876 at Philadelphia, through the opportunities afforded for the comparison of products, have been the means of unusual education in the identification of varieties. No amount of descriptive literature can compare with this method of acquiring accuracy in naming and describing fruits, flowers, and vegetables.
The interest in these great exhibitions by the growers of soil products indicates a peculiarity of this class of producers. They are the ones to reap the smallest direct result, and yet they have always been willing to give freely of their productions to swell the volume of these great fairs and emphasize the possibilties of the localities in which they lived. They would even pay their own expenses to attend these fairs and explain to the world how they succeeded in growing such attractive things. No producers of the useful things of life will compare with the horticulturist in willingness to impart to his fellow the secrets of his success. National, state, district and township exhibitions have thus become great methods of disseminating information of value to the horticulturist - educators of the people.
For many years the most prominent feature of fruit shows was the nomenclature of the exhibit. In vegetables it was the size of the specimen, in flowers the number of sorts and their tasteful arrangement. People flocked together to identify varieties, to see the big things and to satisfy esthetic longing. Later the art in exhibiting products was given more attention, and wonderful creations have resulted from combinations and artistic arrangement.
Exhibitions have been the favorite opportunities of bringing out new and valuable sorts and often the usefulness of a variety dates from some particular fair at which it was prominently displayed. Notable instances of this were the grapefruit, which was shown in quantity for the first time at the great New Orleans exhibition; the Kieffer pear, which was a distinguishing feature of a meeting of the American Pomological Society in Philadelphia; the Niagara grape, which was featured at a winter meeting of New York fruit-growers. Striking examples of this are found in the annals of floral exhibits. The dissemination of the most delightful strains of carnations and chrysanthemums dates from some particular fair or "show."
In recent years, the experiment stations of the country have added greatly to their usefulness in preparing technical exhibits for winter exhibitions of horticultural societies, helping their progressive work, through graphic illustrations of the results which they have obtained in growing products under varying conditions, and having in mind the demonstration of problems of value to growers.
One of the most recent developments has been the opportunity given students of agricultural colleges of putting into practice the knowledge of varieties which they have acquired in the naming of various collections as a competitive drill.
The products of glass farming have been brought into prominence through national, state, and local horticultural societies in their annual exhibitions, and the great seedhouses of the country have used these exhibitions as avenues for the dissemination of new and valuable varieties. Nurserymen have successfully utilized exhibitions in publishing to the world not only their new creations but their methods of propagation.
During recent years the initiative of the American Pomological Society has been followed by many other organizations in perfecting a scale of points for judging exhibits of horticultural products. By this means, more accurate methods have come into use at our great fairs, and, in the hands of experts, the judgments rendered have been far more satisfactory and useful.
A most important result of exhibitions has been the acquirement of the knowledge that varieties vary a great deal as the result of climatic conditions and differences in soil, and it is found as an outcome of these comparisons that certain localities are especially adapted to certain varieties in which they reach their highest perfection. This is illustrated in the Rocky Ford cantaloupe, the Albemarle Pippin, certain strains of carnations, and head lettuce. The facts brought out through these comparative exhibits are leading to scientific investigations concerning the conditions which produce these variations which will be of great use to the producers, as well as deep interest to the scientist.
Commercial problems are finding their solution through exhibitions which illustrate styles of packing and kinds of packages and general attractiveness in presenting the products to the consumer. Already these exhibitions have brought to the attention of law-makers the importance of uniform legal requisitions concerning methods of marketing throughout the land.
The most recent development of values resulting from horticultural exhibits of great utility has been the carrying of the methods of comparison instituted there to the growing of products on the farm and in the garden, orchard and vineyard, thus awakening a deeper interest in the factors which affect the production of horticultural creations and a recognition of the uses of these creations in landscape art. Thus an abiding interest has been awakened in the development of the science as well as the art of horticulture through the adoption of new and improved methods of production and widening the usefulness of the products.
Charles W. Garfield.