This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Desirous of seeing one of the "model farms" of England, I secured an introduction to one of the most enterprising farmers in Staffordshire, who, after a brief glance at my credentials, cordially assured me he was at my service for the occasion. The fame of the farm led me to seek an interview with the intelligent agriculturist, who so successfully managed it. It soon became obvious to the writer's precep-tions of such matters that the noted granger possessed a thorough, practical and scientific knowledge of all things bucolic.
He was an adept at floriculture, too, as was evident from the gay parterres which adorned his well-kept grounds. And in his business pursuits, pleasure and profit seemed mutually united in making life enjoyable.
Learning that I was on a visit from the United States, our conversation soon drifted to matters agricultural and horticultural, on this side the well as the social, moral and political features of the country. Thus pleasantly led along, we inspected his well tilled fields - some two hundred acres in extent, where everything indicated that thrifty farming was worth following. The modern implements of husbandry, all bright and clean, with the excellent machinery of both American and English makers, adapted for all agricultural purposes, were ample and complete. The live stock, also, were of choice breeds, and their excellent condition, showed they were well cared for, and well might the owner feel proud of them.
After viewing the farm, where all and every thing seemed to flourish, we returned to the pleasant surroundings of the comfortable domi-cil, and looked over the tidy, handsome greenhouse and vinery, with a number of pits and frames, which were highly creditable to the owner. The soft mossy lawn, more elastic than any velvet carpet could possibly be, was as verdant and smooth, as ever footsteps pressed, and over which, we passed to the orchard - which was enclosed within a remarkably fine close clipped holly hedge, ten feet high. The apple trees, I was informed, when kept free from the American blight (as that is the cognomen by which the pest is known), bore tolerable crops; but nothing like the beautiful fruit he frequently saw in the markets sent from this country. His remedy for the destruction of the insect nuisance was linseed oil, put on with a painter's brush all over the trees, at least once a year, or whenever seen to be infested. The pear, plum and cherry trees, with quinces, medlars and filberts, I was assured, bore abundantly, as did also the gooseberries, the huge, luscious English kinds, currants, raspberries and strawberries in the vegetable garden ; while the peach, nectarine, fig and apricot trees, trained on the garden walls, were as fruitful as need be.
I noticed an additional orchard of damsons, several acres in extent, that had recently been planted, and to my query, Why so many? was informed they were not intended for culinary purposes, but to supply a new demand of the arts, and for which they were immensely profitable.
Now, here was something new under the sun, as the sequel will presently show. As I had hitherto looked upon the domestic damson as one of the most useful and palatable fruits eaten, either in a natural state, preserved or otherwise prepared, I felt astonished at the assertion. As damson pudding and pie had been one of the gustatory delights of my youthful days, and for which I sometimes feel a yearning now, I was at a loss to know what other art, save that of mastication, could find a use for damsons. But good reader, be not amazed when the secret is divulged, as it was told to me, they were intended for dyes instead of pies. "The fact is this," said my friend, "I last year sold nearly all my damson crop, which realized £50, or $250, to parties who, in the season, go about the country buying up all the ripe fruit they can find for dyeing purposes".
And so it seems the discovery has been made that damson dye gives an indelible rich color to textile fabrics, and for such uses is highly valued.
Accepting an invitation to lunch, I noticed several large, well-filled bookcases, and on the ! table of a very cosy sitting-room lay some of the ! leading magazines of the day, with a number of newspapers, conspicuous among which was The Gardener's Chronicle, The Garden, Agrimltural Gazette, etc, all of which indicated their intentions were to keep pace with the times.
There seems to have sprung up a new race of agriculturists in England who have faith in " book-learning," and admit that brains, as well as muscles, are of use on the farm, and which, I opine, is as true of that country as of this.