This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I am quite as strongly opposed to " patent plants" as you can be. At any time you desire I will cheerfully take the negative on this discussion, and point out wherein and why they would result disastrously.
The "copyright upon the names of new varieties," advocated by me a year ago, differs as widely in its working and results from plant patents as does the east from the west; and until some one will venture to tell the public wherein and why it would be found impracticable, I shall feel justified in believing and asserting that such fears as to it are without foundation. That measure proposed in part to encourage artificial hybridization; but it was mainly directed to the prevention of frauds in the dissemination of new varieties. I know these frauds to be wide-spread, and by no means confined to traveling agents; but judging from your remarks, made at the Nurserymen's Convention held in this city last Summer, when the subject of frauds was under consideration, I was constrained to believe that you did not realize the extent to which the innocent public are being swindled, as well by dealers and agents as by nurserymen, who through long continued advertising and distribution of handsome catalogues have secured the rank of respectability. The idea which we often hear urged that people will avoid all risk by ordering directly of a nurseryman, is absurd as well as impracticable.
Absurd because the masses cannot know which nurserymen "carry little hatchets" and which do not; impracticable because many have not the intelligence to order directly, even if they could afford to pay separate packing and freight on the little lots which they are able to buy at one time. The extent to which the agency system has taken hold of the business is well illustrated by the fact that the most extensive nursery firm in the country, and one of the most careful as to the correctness of its varieties, finds it necessary, notwithstanding its liberal advertising, to send out canvassing agents in order to secure its fair share of the trade.
I agree with you that the passage of resolutions will not cure this evil, nor will the shutting of the eyes of honorable members of the trade to its existence do it. A bold discussion of it by horticultural societies and nurserymen's conventions may scare off some who now practice it; if not it may develop a wiser and better repressive measure than has yet been suggested. If so I shall be very glad to see the one proposed by me give way to it.