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 first meeting of this newly formed association took place on the evening of Friday, December 3d. There was a large attendance. The president, Mr Doig, Rossie Priory Gardens, occupied the chair, and delivered an interesting address on the progress of horticulture. He went on to show that there was, however, still room for improvement, and for an association such as had just been formed. He had sometimes heard it said that they ought not to permit all they said and did to go abroad to the public, as in that way every one would become acquainted with the secrets of the trade; but such ideas as these had long ago been exploded. It was not his intention that evening to treat upon any subject specially, but rather to indicate some of the many subjects which might be discussed at their meetings. It was very desirable that the nature of the different soils, and their adaptability for the growth of the various plants which came under the care of the horticulturist, should be considered. The winter digging of soils might form not an uninteresting paper, whether in all cases it was desirable or beneficial. The different kinds of manure and their proper application was a subject of paramount importance.
The matter of seed and seed-sowing demanded careful inquiry, and the seasons for seed-sowing should form part of the information to be derived from their meetings. He suggested for the consideration of local nurserymen whether it would not be for their benefit, as well as for the benefit of horticulturists in general, to persevere in eliminating from their catalogues the great amount of unnecessary varieties of the different genera. The theory that Potatoes became exhausted after several years' growth had been brought very prominently before the public of late. The fact that they still had the ash-leaved Kidney as vigorous and prolific as it was forty years ago, pointed to the duty of raisers of seedlings to cultivate early varieties of good keeping qualities, so that they might be ripe and stored before the disease got hold of them. It was not to be wondered at that Potatoes had succumbed to the treatment they had received for many years. How often did they see them planted in May, at the time they ought to be breaking through the ground, with all the first sprouts broken off, and sometimes the second, and thrown amongst fermenting manure in such a crippled condition, that, in their efforts at recuperation the season was so far advanced that the wet in autumn found them in a soft unripened state, and an easy prey to disease ? Instead of saying Potatoes were exhausted, it would be nearer the truth to say they were destroyed through neglect and want of attention on the part of the cultivator.
Although the latter operation was principally mechanical, yet failures often occurred from want of scientific knowledge of the proper principles which should guide them. Mr Doig next drew attention to the subject of pruning, on which, he said, there existed a considerable diversity of opinion; to the cultivation of stove and greenhouse plants, and the culture of fruit under glass. The Pine-apple was not now cultivated so much in this country as formerly. The rapid communication between different parts of the world enabled the growers, where no glass was required, to produce Apples so much cheaper, and often of superior quality, for the greater part of the year, as almost to drive the home-produce out of the market. After a reference to the growing of Peaches, Figs, and other fruits, flowers, and vegetables, and to the manner in which the debates should be conducted, the President concluded by expressing the hope that the meetings of the Association would help to stir up and foster a desire for self-improvement, which ought to form a part of every man's ambition.
Mr Edward Moir, Newport, then read an able paper on "The Alpine Flora of Forfarshire." In the course of his remarks, he pointed out that the hills and dales of the county contained many of the rarest plants of our British flora. The rare Lychnis alpinus, Saussurea alpina, Maulgedium alpinum, Astragalus alpinus, and the still more rare Oxytropis campestris, all found a home in the Clova mountains. There, by mountain streams and rugged scars, nearly all the genera common to an Alpine flora were to be found. Dried specimens of nearly every plant named were exhibited, which added greatly to the interest of the meeting.
It was intimated that the business for next meeting would consist of papers on "A Trip to the Ptocky Mountains," by Mr William Stewart, nurseryman, Dundee; and on "Hardy Border Flowers," by Mr Thomas Miln, The Gardens, Linlathen.