This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In most of my former addresses I have spoken of the importance of American Pomology, and of the best means for the promotion of it throughout our land. But in the presence of so many eminent practitioners, renowned alike for their enterprise, skill, and devotion to the cause, and whose opinions are more valuable than my own, I shall refrain from presenting any points in detail. Nor shall I trespass on your time by a repetition of what I have said heretofore, except so far as to keep alive in our hearts the flame of enterprise and love for our favorite pursuit, and, in view of its wonderful progress and the great future that awa itsit in our country, to encourage you in renewed efforts for its advancement.
When we take a retrospective view and see what our Society has accomplished already in classifying our fruits, correcting their nomenclature, in rejecting worthless varieties from its catalogue, and, by a constant revision of its columns, furnishing lists of those adapted to every section of our ever increasing fruit lands, we can easily perceive that great good has already been effected. But we can scarcely estimate the immense advantages which are to arise from its influence, year by year, in the future growth of fruit culture on this continent.
I have often spoken of this in reference to our older States, but the progress is equally remark-able in the new regions which are constantly being opened up to us. To encourage, promote and regulate this progress is the province of our Society. True, the various horticultural and pomological societies are acting in concert with us to this end, and to them we must ever look for aid in the different sections of our country. But let it be remembered that it is by the information and intelligence here concentrated that we are, by common consent, to build up and establish a pomological authority which shall be acknowledged throughout our whole land. Nor can we too highly appreciate the beneficial results which are daily being derived from these societies, all of whom pursue these noble works in their respective States, and whose discussions and reports are powerful agents in the prosecution of the general cause. When our Society was formed there were only twelve States represented in the convention; now we have enrolled in our organization more than fifty States, territories, and districts, with Vice-Presidents and Fruit Committees for each, through which are collected the experience of our best cultivators in their various locations, thus giving to the world a knowledge of the appropriate fruits for every section of our rich and varied clime.
Few are aware of the great benefits which have resulted from the free discussions of the merits of the many new varieties of fruits which are continually being brought to notice, recommending only those of promise, and discarding hundreds of kinds which would otherwise be imposed on the public as valuable sorts. Formerly it took many years to test the merits and adaptation of fruits to our several locations; now, when a new variety is promulgated, it must receive the commendation of our Society for trial before it can have an extensive sale, thus recording its relative value and adaptation, saving immense expense and delay. Our catalogue there presents from time to time the results of accumulative experience, and furnishes a text-book and guide for every section of our land. The duty of the committee is indeed arduous and responsible, but this is gratefully acknowledged, especially that of Mr. Barry, and if he were to have no other reward our catalogue will be a lasting monument to his memory.
Among the most gratifying evidences of progress are the numerous acquisitions of new and valuable varieties, by which the season of our fruits is greatly prolonged with the accessions of early and late varieties. By the better knowledge in the keeping and packing of fruits, and the facilities of transportation, our markets are now supplied with fruits through the whole year. Instead of the strawberry for three or four weeks, as formerly, we now have it for four or five months, the peach from four to six months, the grape from six to eight months, the pear from eight to ten months, the orange and the apple the year round, and the smaller fruits in their season; so he who has the means may replenish his table daily with such variety as no other nation can produce. The progress of invention, the developments of science, and the spur of enterprise are indeed grand in other departments of industry, and in all these the fruit culture of our country is to have its share. Like the light of American civilization that first dawned on our eastern shores, and is now spreading its benign influences throughout our land, so the genius of American Pomology, which a hundred years ago had scarcely emerged from her Atlantic birth-place, has now winged her way not only from the North to the South, but over hill, valley, and mountain top down the golden slope, there to revel in the fruits of almost every clime on the globe.
In nothing, perhaps, is the happy influences of our Society to be seen more than in its suppression of the numerous inferior or worthless varieties which have been in cultivation, or are constantly being brought to notice, and with which the public are too often deceived. The enterprise and sagacity with which these are promulgated surpass any other former period, and ere the favorite of the day has started on his tour, another jumps upon the track and leaves his rival in the distance behind. The universal interest now manifested in the production of new varieties is worthy of all praise, but it is the mission of our Society to keep watch over this spirit of emulation, or, to use a harder word, speculation, and not to admit into its catalogue any fruits which are of doubtful merit. Some of the new kinds are of inestimable value, and for excellence will take their place permanently in its columns of approved fruits, while many claiming to be the wonders of the age will pass away, as thousands have done before, like a shadow flitting over the plain; or, " Like the snow-flake on the river, A moment white, then gone forever."
(To be continued.)