This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
At a meeting of nurserymen from all parts of the Union, held in the city of Rochester, recently, to consider the present condition and future prospects of the business, Mr. Thomas Meehan, being present, was called on for a few remarks which are thus reported in a Rochester paper He alluded to the great improvements made before the war in the planting, and in the embellishment of country residences, and which were largely promoted by the horticultural societies of that day. More recently, less attention has been given to these improvements by persons of wealth, who now devote a large portion of their time to Summer travel, and to visiting places of Summer resort. This prevailing practice has left but little time and means for horticultural improvement, and has resulted in a diminished call for nursery products. He-alluded to the great benefits which nurserymen had conferred on the country, and to the means employed by them for disposing of their trees. In this State, agents are mostly employed, and have introduced tree planting in many places where land owners would not take the trouble to send to nurseries.
A prominent cause of the present depression in the nursery business was the fact that many had undertaken it with but little knowledge, who had raised trees largely, had overstocked the market, disseminated poor sorts, and sold trees under wrong names. This course had greatly injured the legitimate business, and given a bad name to reliable and accurate dealers. He recommended nurserymen to take more interest in planting in their respective neighborhoods; they should take an active part in horticultural societies, promote public exhibitions, assist in sustaining financially such organizations as were deficient in means, and in this way a taste and demand would be gradually promoted. This result would also be advanced by the wider circulation of periodicals devoted to the subject. So far as horticultural and agricultural societies were concerned, he thought premiums should not be awarded because one exhibitor's articles were better than another's; but because they favorably compared with the best specimens known in their own classes.
This would require a higher order of judges than had generally prevailed; but more care and intelligence on the part of judges in awarding prizes at shows, would encourage a larger number of exhibitors, and real merit would be better understood than mere quantity and show. Mr. M. also remarked that nurserymen had suffered great losses by giving long credit, to effect sales; when they became overstocked with trees, they were tempted to sell at any rate, and on any terms. Large numbers of weak, and in the main, dishonorable firms, were sustained in existence by this plan, who in turn competed injuriously with the firms that had sustained them. He said it was better to destroy the trees then to overburden the market. The practice of selling trees at prices so low as hardly to pay for digging and packing had largely contributed to depress the trade. It was an injury to the public as well as to the other members of the trade, as, feeling that they had suffered enough loss already, the temptation to haste in digging and careless packing was great, and large numbers of such trees died on the purchaser's hands.