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.
A WRITER in the August number of the ' Gardener,' and whose communication I have not been able to notice sooner, professing to quote from a contemporary, says it was asserted early in the year by a cultivator that the finest Chrysanthemum flowers were "invariably produced upon the terminal bud." I apprehend from the remarks of your correspondent that I am the party referred to, although he has misrepresented my statements in regard to the subject. What I did was to offer a challenge to Chrysanthemum-growers to controvert, by ocular demonstration, a statement which I here reproduce. Your correspondent could have accepted the challenge then and there, and there would have been an opportunity by this time of deciding the matter, but for reasons best known to himself he did not accept it. Speaking from memory chiefly, what I stated elsewhere was this : A Chrysanthemum plant which is grown on in a healthy manner, as regards culture - the shoots being thinned out in the ordinary way, and otherwise attended to, but not pinched or meddled with after the foundation of the plant has been formed - almost invariably produces its best and largest flowers at the tops of the shoots, sometimes there being only one terminal flower, and sometimes two or three.
This is what happens in the case of a Chrysanthemum shoot that is allowed to complete its growth, and flower in a natural manner; and I asked experienced growers to controvert my statement by producing a shoot or a plant that behaved otherwise, - but no one has done so yet. But if your correspondent, Mr Hinds, is as anxious to get to the truth of the matter as he professes to be, let him prove by practical illustration that I am wrong.
In speaking of Chrysanthemum buds, I do not mean those abortive buds that sometimes show themselves in July or a little later, and never come to anything, and are never expected to do; but I mean the buds that actually do produce the first flowers on a naturally developed shoot, and at the right season. The issue raised is a plain and simple one, and if your correspondent can put aside irrelevant points for the time being, and answer me directly, some progress will have been gained, and this discussion will be more instructive and satisfactory to your readers. If it can be proved that the terminal flowers are the best, naturally, of course, it follows that they will also become the best in the hands of the cultivator who grows them for exhibition or any other purpose. It stands to reason that the bud which is in a position to receive the direct force from the roots will be the first and the best - and that is the position which a top bud of a Chrysanthemum plant occupies. There are numbers of plants of a similar habit that behave in the same manner - the Strawberry, for example, the first flowers on a scape of which are always the best.
Chrysanthemums will soon be in flower; let Mr Hinds send a plant - root and top all intact - that has been grown as I suggested, and let the Editor decide who is right in the matter. I will do this if needful, but prefer to give my opponent the chance.
The Author of the Article in a Contemporary.