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.
Three years ago this Society inaugurated a system of giving a reception once a year in June, to the citizens of Philadelphia, and on the third annual one, just held, over five thousand persons were entertained, and all were delighted. The florists of Philadelphia added to the interest by admirable specimens of floral work, and the "wives and daughters of the leading members rivalled them by the charms of their tables. Some new fruits, Roses, and rare plants were also exhibited, but the chief pleasure was in the pleasant social intercourse.
It is quite evident, that, though Philadelphia has grown so as to occupy one hundred square miles of ground, and brick, and mortar, has 'banished the best old-time gardens to twenty miles and more from its center, where the grand hall is situated, Horticulture is still deeply rooted in the hearts of the Philadelphians, and there is room for its old-time glory if only the genius can be discovered to adapt the changed circumstances to this old and permanent love. Secretary Harrison is wonderfully successful in keeping up a full list of members; it is for those who are more practically interested in Horticulture to turn the advantages he holds together for them to Horticulture's practical account.
The Annual Exhibition was one of the most successful held for some years. The immense hall was crowded every night, one evening five thousand persons having been present. The critical manner in which everything was examined, showed how well adapted these exhibitions are for educational institutions. The chief attractions were the huge Ferns, Palms, and leaf plants, which, growing in value from year to year, excite the envy as well as the admiration of those whose pockets are slim, and afford an annual treat to the multitude who can here enjoy them. In this particular department the enterprising firm of Hugh, Graham & Co., excelled.
So far as cultural skill is concerned, Mr. Wm. Joyce, gardener to Mrs. M. W. Baldwin, made a decided sensation by his admirable growth of Caladiums. Philadelphia gardeners are celebrated for their growth of these plants, but these out-did them all.
The great missing link in the exhibition was in connection with flowering plants. These have almost wholly disappeared. The only redeeming feature of this kind was furnished by a poor woman, who, with her little son, brought them to the exhibition in their arms. It is true they were only Cockscombs, Geraniums and Balsams, and similar common things; and the Balsam had but three flowers on it, and the plant was less than six inches high; and then the plants were growing in cracked teapots, little paint kegs and old shells. But it was quite a relief to see plants with flowers as well as great Palms and Ferns, and though no doubt some might have thought these fifty little things poor specimens for a great Pennsylvania Horticultural Exhibition, it is a pleasure to know for flowering plants' sake that the "widow's mite" received a special premium.
But there was one exhibitor who deserves great praise for something really attractively new to an exhibition, Mr. E. Sturtevant, of Borden town, X. J., who made a display of Water Lilies Nymplaea coerulea, the light blue; the remarkably brilliant red N. dentata-, and N. dentata Devoniana; and our own sweet white N. odor-ata. This pretty red white and blue combination, floating with their glaucous green leaves in a little fountain made for them, was particularly attractive.
The cut flower department was one of the i most brilliant ever made at an exhibition in America. Most of the leading florists in Phila-delphia participated. It is questionable how far into good taste we may go with crosses, doves, crowns, pillows, ships, bells, and so on. Yet the taste for cut flowers is one to be commended, and the arrangements must take some form All we can say is that if the forms are to be tolerated it was hard to have better work done than was exhibited here. One might wish that some new flowers could be introduced sometimes. The same white Bouvardias, white Carnations, white Jasmines, forever and ever, with the one everlasting "Smilax" or Myrsiphyllum is just a trifle dull. Mr. Dreer deserves some credit for the plentiful use of the common Maiden Hair Fern in his Cut Flower work. It was a good change from the prevailing green.
The Fruits and Vegetables were, on the whole, of the usual good quality seen at exhibitions, but little was offered to mark special progress in any particular direction. Mr. Ricketts made a fine exhibition of his seedling Grapes, but these have been fully noticed in our paper on former occasions.