This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the Gardener's Monthly for November I read with much pleasure a very interesting account of the " Remarkable Difference of the Climate of Places Situated Under the Same Latitude," by F. W. Poppey. As a Scotch gardener, however, who has had good opportunity to know something of the climate and productions of his native country, having lived in the lowlands and highlands thereof, as well as in the "Hebrid Isle, placed far amid the melancholy main." I hope I may be pardoned for taking some exception to the assertion that no fruit tree thrives in that country. Had Mr. Poppey said that there are portions of it where no fruit tree thrives, he would have been correct. For, truly there are localities "Shaggy with heath; yet lonely, bare, Nor tree, nor bush, nor brake is there".
Yet in many of the Scottish Islands, and on the mainland in general, and especially towards the east coast, certain kinds of fruit trees thrive very well. Not to speak of some other places, and the orchards and gardens of the wealthy. Any one who has seen the Clydesdale Orchards, and those of the Carse of Gowrie, knows that it is so. I am not at all alluding to "wall trees," for trained against garden walls, all sorts of apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and figs do well, and in some instances the Black Hamburg grape. I have helped to pick many hundred bushels of apples for the English market, where they sold just as readily as those from the Channel Islands, and parts of England. I happen to remember one Red Cathead apple tree, from which, in one season, we took sixteen bushels. Excellent pears and plums are also produced; indeed, I have eaten some of the same varieties of fruit on the continent of Europe, in England, Ireland and Scotland, and it seemed to me those grown in Scotland were just as good as any of them. In Scotland I have seen healthy apple, and especially pear trees, bearing fruit which had been planted many hundred years ago by those good gardeners, the monks of old.
In the south-west of Scotland, about latitude 55°, I have seen very old and large trees of Spanish Chestnut, Walnut, Juglans regia, and Spanish Filbert, all producing fine crops of good fruit. One of these chestnut trees I know was at least twelve feet in circumference about two feet from the ground. I call the filberts trees, they really were trees, large enough for a man to climb up amongst their branches.
Many good varieties of apples and pears have originated in Scotland, excellent for that, and some of them, too, for other countries. I happen to think of the Leadington, Oslin, Hawthornden, Thorle and Tower of Glamnis amongst apples:. and Auchan, Drummond, Golden Knapp and Crawford amongst pears. There is one tree - but, I had almost forgotten that in these days of evolution it has taken a backward course, revo-luted to a bush! contrary to the authority of alL good gardeners and garden authors of ye olden time, such as good old Abercrombie and others, in whose times it was a tree ! I mean a goose-berry tree! Well this tree, or bush if it must be called in order to keep up with the times, thrives throughout Scotland as well, if not better, than in any other land on the globe. It may be called the grape of the country, equal to, and surpassing in flavor many grapes: excellent for tarts, jelly, jams, and even wine. Nature, ever kind and compensating, although she has denied the vine to Northern lands, has given them the gooseberry, the currant, raspberry and strawberry - bounteous gifts, no mean eqivalents..
Perhaps in no country of equal dimensions is-there a greater diversity of soil, scenery and climate than exists in Scotland. The climate is-very much affected by the position and proximity of mountains, the islands off the coast, the ocean and the gulf stream. The winter climate of the west coast, and the adjoining islands of the Hebrides, the shores of which are laved by the warm waters of the gulf stream, is very mild and very moist; in some places ice and snow, to any extent, are rare. In many places in these regions, even north of latitude 58°, the same parallel of latitude as Northern Labrador, Fuschias, Myrtles, (Myrtus communis,) Hydrangeas and sweet scented Verbenas, (Aloysia citri-odora,) and many other tender things stand the winter without any protection, and thrive well I have seen the Myrtle in flower at Christmas and the Arbutus,(Arbutus Unedo,) loaded with its-exquisitely beautiful and tempting berries at the same time.
I have good remembrance of one Hydrangea,, then some thirty years old, which had five hundred and twenty-five flowers on it at one time. This Hydrangea was protected in winter by a cordon of Silver spruce boughs stuck in the ground.
The climate of the Eastern coast is in general much more severe ; there the influence of the mysterious, beneficent gulf stream is much less felt, while nothing but the German ocean intervenes betwixt the northern part of the continent of Europe, from which the cold blasts issue forth and sweep with biting severity. In most parts of this quarter of the country the above mentioned tender things have to be well protected to thrive well at all. There are in Scotland moorlands of mist and cloud, " glens where the snow-flake reposes," mountains " around whose summits the elements war," where the torrent rushes and the "cataract foams," hyperborean regions, too, where stern winter sways his cold sceptre with rigor. Although the climate may well be pronounced, in a general way damp, cloudy and wet, yet there ;are some localities which may be said to be dry, as several places on the East coast, and on the shores of the Solway frith, rendered so by the mountains of the adjoining Isle of Man arresting the rain clouds from the south-west.
In connection with the subject of climate, I may say, that in the spring of 1838, I went from the south-west of Scotland to London. The previous winter had been very severe - an ox was roasted on the Serpentine river at London that winter - I was much surprised to see amongst a number of other things, shrubs such :as Laurustinus and Arbutus very much injured and almost destroyed by the cold, while the same varieties I had left in Scotland, fully four degrees farther north, were uninjured.
I hope you will forgive me for the length of this communication, and for having digressed so far from the original topic, and accept best wishes for yourself and the success of your excellent Monthly, to which I have been a subscriber from the beginning, and to which I owe much in the way of interesting information and instruction.