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.
John Feast, the veteran florist, who is now the oldest as well as still one of the most enthusiastic lovers of plants in this community. Mr. Feast at one time had not only the largest commercial establishment, but also, it is believed, the most extensive miscellaneous collection of plants in the country, though of late years this has much diminished by his reduction of the area of his houses by sales of ground becoming too valuable to be retained for its former purposes.
He was not only an originator, as we have seen, but a constant importer of new and valuable trees; and it is to his credit that his love for them was not limited by his desire to profit from their sale. Although ambitious to make his collection as complete as possible, his novelties as soon as propagated were willingly divided or exchanged, and we believe his enthusiasm, which continues unquenched, was far beyond the influence of mere money-making.
John Feast is by birth English, having been born in Yorkshii-e. At the age of thirteen, showing a fondness for flowers, he was sent to Lord YarborougrTs, then one of the finest places in England, and at nineteen was given the charge of the Botanic Garden then owned by Miss Charlotte Pelham and devoted to the products of Flora. In 1823 he emigrated to the United States, joining his brother Samuel in business, the connection continuing until 1830, when he removed to 295 Lexington street, his present establishment. He has been identified with all the movements in Baltimore to promote Horticulture, and numerous public institutions have had the benefit of his helping hand. He was one of the founders of the first Maryland Horticultural Society 1830; assisted in reviving it in 1851, and was active in the organization of the present one in 1874. He took great interest in the early success of the Maryland Institute, and for many years was in its Board of Managers, a number of its exhibitions having been arranged by him with his characteristic ability to produce pronounced effects from the materials at command.
He was charged with a similar work as superintendent in the decoration arrangement of the household department of three successive agricultural societies in this State.
Mr. Feast has from time to time contributed to various publications, or read before scientific societies, papers on botanical or horticultural topics. For a number of years he contributed to the American Farmer, a calender of monthly operations in the flower garden and green house. In 1868 Mr. Feast received carte blanche from Gen. Capron, then United States Commissioner of Agriculture, to purchase in Europe trees, plants, cereals, etc, that would likely be acquisitions in this country. In the performance of the duty entrusted to him he visited England, Belgium, Prussia, Germany and France, and brought home a very valuable collection for the Government, as well as many rare and curious additions to his own stock.
In 1869, having been elected to represent his ward, the 13th, in the First Branch of the City Council of Baltimore, he was made Chairman of the Committee on Parks, in which capacity his technical knowledge and long experience were duly availed of.