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 members of the Society dined together in the Douglas Hotel at six o'clock. About 140 gentlemen were present. The Right Hon. the Earl of Dalkeith presided, and Professor Balfour officiated as croupier; and among the company were the Plight Hon. R. C. Nisbet-Hamilton, Sir H. J. Seton Stewart, Bart.; Mr Miller, M.P.; Rev. S. Reynolds Hole, Rev. Edward Hawke, Dr Alexander Wood, Councillors Methven and Tawse, Messrs Charles Turner, Slough; David Smith, W.S.; Chas. Lawson, George Lawson, John Gibson, Woolmet; Thomas Sprott, A. W. Adam, Wm. Thomson, Dalkeith; D. Thomson, Drumlanrig; Wm. Blackwood; Carmichael, Sandringham; Speed, Chatsworth; Webster, Gordon Castle; Westcott, Raby Castle; Ingram, Alnwick; Lees, Tyringhame; Anderson, Oxenford; Black, Liberton; Fowler, Castle Kennedy; J. Keynes, Salisbury; B. S. Williams, London; J. Downie, Westcoats; J. Laing, London; W. Dean, London; A. M'Kenzie, London; D. Mitchell, Edinburgh; G. Tillyard, Brocklesby; R. P. Glendinning, Chiswick; D. Syme, Bangholm, etc. etc.
The Chairman intimated that letters of apology had been received from the Lord Provost, Sir Alexander Gibson-Maitland, M.P., Sir William Gibson-Craig, Mr Dundas of Arniston, and Mr Charles Lawson.
After the usual loyal and patriotic toasts had been proposed, the Chairman gave "The Lord Provost and Magistrates of Edinburgh," coupled with the name of Councillor Methven. (Applause).
Mr Methven, in replying, said he thought the Town Council of Edinburgh was only doing honour to itself in supporting such an institution as the Caledonian Horticultural Society. (Applause.) It was an institution which tended to do great good to this city. He was sure he might say for himself and his colleagues in the Council, that they were glad to see such an exhibition of horticultural productions. Never before had there been such a display of horticultural produce in this city.
The Chairman gave "The English Horticultural Society and the Strangers." They were much indebted to those gentlemen who had come down from England for what they had done in helping them to secure the success of the show. They wished them a most cordial welcome, and heartily thanked them for what they had done. In Scotland we had to contend against the climate, which was not always the best; but what they had that day seen, showed that they had turned the abilities they had to the best advantage. (Cheers.) He thought they ought to look with pleasure on all attempts to further horticulture. He was happy to see that into their contests no bad feeling entered. It was not in horticulture as in politics, where difference of opinion ran high - (laughter and applause) - where people took up different views on different subjects, each man having his own crotchet. In horticulture they all worked together for one end, to endeavour to bring out that which was most beautiful, that which would afford most pleasure to those who were engaged in the business of life - (cheers) - whether the mercantile man, who might find pleasure in his greenhouse after the day's anxieties; or the poor cottager, who might find pleasure in a simple border or a few select flowers in his small garden. (Cheers.) He concluded by again proposing "The English Horticultural Society and the Strangers, coupled with the name of the Rev. S. Reynolds Hole of Newark." The toast was cordially pledged.
Mr Hole, in responding, acknowledged the superiority of Scotchmen both as horticulturists and agriculturists, and thanked the Society for the hearty reception the strangers had received. He had to reciprocate their kindness by proposing "Prosperity to the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society." He congratulated them on having got up the finest exhibition of fruit that ever was seen since the Creation. (Laughter and applause.) The show was enough to take away one's breath; and when a royal prince, three dukes, and earls and baronets as numerous as the Peaches, contended in the battle, defeat was glory. (Laughter and cheers.) He coupled with the toast the name of the noble President, the Duke of Buccleuch. (Applause).
The noble Chairman returned thanks, and then gave "The Successful and Unsuccessful Competitors," coupled with the name of Mr Johnston. In px-oposing the toast, his lordship bore testimony to the superior character of the exhibition, especially of fruit, and expressed a hope that the high standard which had been reached would be maintained. Mr Johnston returned thanks.
Professor Balfour gave "The Judges," coupled with the name of Mr Turner, Slough.
Mr Turner, in responding, said it had given him the greatest pleasure and pride to be appointed one of the judges in a show where so many magnificent productions were exhibited. He had acted as a judge twenty times, and he had been present at such exhibitions for twenty years, but he had never seen anything like such an exhibition of fruit - he would not say on one occasioa, but on half-a-dozen occasions - as had been that day placed before them. (Applause.) The show of fruit was altogether something wonderful. This was not the season for plants, but the show would have been better if the Committee had had a larger space at their disposal.
The Chairman, in next giving the health of the members for the city, said the members of Parliament had had most arduous duties to perform during last session. They would not all agree in the principles which they held, but they would all give their members credit for doiug their duty according to their own convictions. He coupled with the toast the name of Mr Miller, M.P. (Applause.) Mr Miller, in replying, said that if he had always to encounter as hard work as he had encountered during last session, he would rather be the hardest-worked gardener in Scotland than a member of Parliament. (Laughter.) He was afraid, however, that they would have equally hard work next session. He had great pleasure in countenancing the exhibitions of the Caledonian Horticultural Society, as, if its objects were properly carried out, it was calculated to afford inconceivable happiness to the people of this country. (Cheers).
Mr Nisbet-Hamilton gave "The Health of the Earl of Dalkeith," which was cordially received.
The noble Chairman acknowledged. Mr Miller, M.P., gave "The Office-Bearers".
Mr David Smith gave "The Ladies;" and several other toasts having been proposed, the company broke up shortly after ten o'clock.
Messrs Geoghegan, Bishop, and Rutherford were present, and sang a number of glees during the evening.
We may add that at the close of the exhibition, Mr T. H. Douglas, photographer, Merchiston Park, took a most successful photograph of the fine group of eleven spikes of Hollyhocks contributed by Messrs Downie, Laird, & Laing. We have seen the photograph, and can bear testimony to its value as a work of art, each spike being brought out clearly and definitely. We understand that Mr Douglas has coloured the photograph from flowers supplied for the purpose, and any one wishing to obtain an enduring souvenir of the Great Exhibition of 1869 cannot do better than obtain a copy of the photograph.
This report of the exhibition is by our able London correspondent, who was present on the occasion; and we have only to add that all the Edinburgh nurserymen sent valuable and well-grown collections of plants on the occasion, and that Messrs Peter Lawson & Son filled the orchestra with a truly magnificent collection of Coniferse, Tree-Ferns, Palms, and other highly-ornamental plants, which, seen either from the entrance to the hall or the gallery, were the admiration of all, and special credit is due to those who arranged them.
We consider the arrangements made by this Society for having the awards all made by nine o'clock in the morning, so as to enable gardeners to see the exhibition from that hour till eleven o'clock at a small charge, is worthy of being copied by other societies. On this occasion some 1500 gardeners were enabled to inspect the whole subjects exhibited with ease and comfort, and when the public were admitted, they could with much greater facility see the productions than if the rooms had been thronged with gardeners. The police and other arrangements made by the Council seem to have given entire satisfaction; and as far as we can at present learn, the whole was successful financially; and there can be no doubt that such an exhibition, properly managed, in cities as populous as Glasgow, Liverpool, or Manchester, would be eminently so, and we trust that one or other of these cities will follow the example thus set them.