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.
On this occasion prizes were offered for Chrysanthemums, out-of-door Grapes, and Potatoes. The meeting for November is usually fixed for the first Wednesday in the month; and this, even in the most favourable seasons, is too early by at least ten days for Chrysanthemums. This flower is exceptionally late this year, so that for cut blooms only one exhibitor put in an appearance, and but two in the classes for plants. Mr Rowe, gardener to Mrs Lewis, the Rookery, Roehampton, carried off all the first prizes. His specimen plants were trained in the usual bush-form, and consisted of Mrs George Rundle, pure white, with a delicate rose flush when the flowers get old - this is the best and most useful of all large-flowered Chrysanthemums - Prince of Wales, Mardchal Duroc, Gloria Mundi, and Lady Hardinge. The second prize was awarded to Mr Goddard, gardener to H. Little, Esq., Twickenham, with plants trained in a natural manner, without pinching or bending of the shoots. The prizes for Pompones were awarded to the same exhibitors.
For twenty-four and twelve cut blooms the prizes were awarded to Mr Rowe, but most of them were of a very poor description, being forced out of character, and dressed in a most distasteful manner; some half-expanded flowers were shown with the centres torn bodily out of them. The few good flowers were Golden Beverley, Lord Derby, Prince of Wales, Mrs George Rundle, White Globe, Guernsey Nugget, Lady Talfourd, Mr Brumlees, Aurea multifiora, Novelty, Empress Eugenie, and Cherub.
Decorative berried plants were very indifferent. The first prize was awarded to Mr George, gardener to Miss Nicholson, Putney Heath. The collection contained Solanum ciliatum, Ardisia crenulata, Aucuba, Cotoneaster, etc, as well as a small Orange-tree! Mr Rowe was second.
Potatoes is the next class on the schedule; and both for the Society's prizes, and for those offered by Messrs Carter & Co., exceedingly fine collections were staged. Mr R. Dean, seed-grower, Ealing, was first for the Society's prize with a well-grown collection of thirty-six distinct sorts. Some new varieties raised by Mr Fenn, of Woodstock, had a particularly fine appearance. Of round varieties, Rector of Woodstock, John Fenn, Eliza Fenn; and of Kidneys, Woodstock Kidney, Yorkshire Hero, Fenn's Perfection, and King of Potatoes were the best. Mr Lumsden, Bloxholm Hall, Sleaford, Lincoln, was second with fifty-one sorts. Mr Lumsden was first for Messrs Carter's prize with a fine collection: the best shaped round were the Bloomer, Carter's Main Cross (red), Early Goodrich, Breeze's Peerless, and Early Coldstream; of Kidneys, Birmingham Prize, Lap-stone, Prince of Wales, Ashleaf Kidney, Sandringham Kidney, Jackson's Superb, and Rivers's Royal Ashleaf.
The Rev. G. Kemp offered prizes for the best six bunches of Grapes grown out of doors. The best came from Mr J. Norris, Francis Court, Broadclysh, Exeter, Royal Muscadine being the variety. This is unquestionably the best of all for open-air purposes.
For collections of six dishes dessert Pears, distinct, there was a close competition, and considering the untoward season, the quality was wonderful. Mr W. Forrle, gardener to Sir H. St John Mildmay, Dogmersfield Park, Hants, was first with grand examples of Flemish Beauty, Pitmaston, Duchesse d'Angouleme, Beurre Clairgeau, Hacon's Incomparable, and Conseiller de la Cour; Mr J. Garland, Killerton, Exeter, was second; Mr Stephenson, gardener to F. C. Barker, Esq., Leigh Hill, Essex, being third. Thirteen collections were shown.
Although late in the season, this was a very interesting meeting. Mr Johnstone, gardener to the Earl of Strathmore, Glamis Castle, Forfar, sent three magnificent bunches of Muscat of Alexandria Grape as an example of a house where he has two hundred such bunches hanging. They were even in bunch and berry, the latter being very large, of a beautiful golden colour: the three bunches weighed 10 lb. 6 oz. A special certificate was awarded. Mr Johnstone also sent a new Black Grape of good flavour, and likely to be a late-keeping sort. Mr Rose, gardener to her Majesty, Frogmore, sent three handsome fruit of smooth-leaved Cayenne Pine-Apple, grown from rootless suckers planted September 21, 1870: their united weight was 22½ lb. A special certificate was unanimously awarded. Mr Powell, of Frogmore Gardens, also sent a new Pear raised by himself, and named Premier. It is distinct and good, partaking of the character of Winter Nelis, but larger in size. Black Hamburg and Muscat Hamburg Grapes were sent by Mr Wells of Southend, grown in his ground vineries. The Muscats were highly flavoured, and received a special certificate. These useful little structures, though despised by the practical gardener, are nevertheless a capital invention, and are invaluable to persons of small means.
Even this season, though a most unfavourable one, I have seen excellent Black Hamburg Grapes grown in Rivers's vineries. They are not half the expense of Wells's, are quite as useful, and are not patented. From personal experience I recommend them.
Most excellent fruit of Musa sapientum was sent by Mr J. Jaques, gardener to H. P. Cunliffe, Esq., Hooley House, Coulsdon. The individual specimens weighed 1 lb. each, the whole bunch weighing 62 lb. A special award was made to it. Exceedingly fine Celery for the season was sent by Mr Lidgard, Albion Road, Hammersmith. The best white sort was Knight's new White Grove. William's Matchless White was more pithy. William's Matchless Red was the best-flavoured Red, and Manchester Red the largest and most solid. This also received a special certificate.
This was a poor meeting, both as regards new things and those of a miscellaneous character. Messrs E. G. Henderson & Son sent Sedum acre elegans, a variety with creamy-white variegation. As it promises to be a useful edging plant, it received a first-class certificate. The same award was given to Mr Green, gardener to W. W. Saunders, Esq., Reigate, for Bilbergia chlorosticta, from Brazil, a species with brownish-purple leaves, blotched and spotted with green; also to Zomatophyllum Saundersii, with long, narrow, fleshy, sharp-pointed and toothed leaves. Messrs Standish of Ascot sent a collection of Gladiolus, the result of crossing hybrids of Gandavensis and Brenchleyensis with G. cruentus. This last-named species has seldom more than one pair of flowers open together on a spike; so that the result of crossing with this has been to materially shorten the flower-spike, and all of them where the crop was apparent were wanting in shape: one variety named Alice Wilson is very distinct, and has narrow recurved petals like some of the Lilies. The same firm also sent a plant of a new late-flowering form of Lily of the Valley; the leaves were quite green, very broadly ovate in shape. It will, if it sustains its character, be a very useful plant.
The flower-spikes are very similar to the old variety.
I also ought to state here that the beautiful new Masdevallia exhibited by Messrs Veitch of Chelsea, and noticed in the October number under the provisional name of amabilis, has proved to be distinct from that variety, and also from Lindeni, which it resembles. It has been figured in the 'Floral Magazine,' and named by Professor Reichenbach, in honour of Mr Harry Veitch, Masdevallia Harryana. Cultivators of cool Orchids will welcome this little gem, and eagerly add it to their collections if they can get it. J. Douglas.