This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
The spring we have scarcely yet escaped from is the most difficult that has been encountered by garden vegetation during the memory of man. We have not had very severe frost, it is true, but the long-continued easterly breezes affected the trees worse than any frosts we have ever witnessed; and, visible as are its effects about London, the season seems even more harmful in places usually more favoured. In the neighbourhood of Dublin and along the east coast of Ireland generally, the Conifers and Evergreens seemed, when we saw them a few weeks since, as if they had been thoroughly boiled - scorched would scarcely describe their state, as the leaves, though dead, held their places on the trees. Such things as Barberis Darwinii have succumbed before the shrivelling breeze, and few Evergreens have escaped in any places we have examined; but the deciduous trees hold their own everywhere. The severe season has had no effect on them, except, indeed, that the blossoms of some of the tenderest kinds were slightly injured in the frost of the 4th inst.
Among the many beautiful deciduous trees we have had the pleasure of seeing in bloom in this country, we were never more struck with any than with the Pinus Malus floribunda, which has been brilliantly beautiful for some weeks past, and yet continues in that state. It is difficult to do justice to it in words, but we would advise those who have an opportunity to do so to see it in bloom. The neatest specimen we have seen is in Mr Parker's exotic nursery, Tooting. The tree presents two distinct aspects during the period of its blooming, and which is the most attractive it is not easy to say. The bloom is produced along the branchlets in clusters, the blossoms being as thick as they can stand, each supported on a tender footstalk, about an inch and a half long. The flower-buds are of a vivid crimson lake, and as the footstalks are slender, each of the thousands of flowers hangs down very gracefully, justifying the remark of an enthusiastic gardener, that the buds were "like scarlet Snowdrops." It remains in this stage a considerable time, when the handsome blossoms begin to expand and show their inner sides of pale rose with yellowish stamens, both of these contrasting very pleasingly with the yet unopened buds, the tree seeming ablaze with rose and crimson.
If these attractions are presented by young trees 3 to 6 feet high, it is fair to assume that they will be much greater when the trees are matured. We know of no object more worthy of a place on lawn or pleasure-ground, isolated or grouped with other choice shrubs, or in a favoured spot on the margin of a choice shrubbery. The fruits, which we have not seen, are said to be small, and of a fine golden yellow, and the plant grows well grafted on the crab or the Paradise stock. - W. R.