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 meetings of the Royal Horticultural Society are practically exhibitions, as they always produce something worth looking at. The December meeting, though held only four days before Christmas, and with the shadows of the coming hard wintry weather thrown over it, yet had its quota of interesting objects. A large group of garden Ivies, exhibited by Messrs E. G. Henderson & Son, in groups of three plants in pots of each kind, was thoroughly well examined, though many of the plants were in bad condition. There is such a perennial never-failing value about these plants that they scarcely ever look dull or cease to do effective service. For covering low dead walls, the exteriors of glass structures, and in many other ways, they can be turned to such excellent account that we cannot wonder at their growing popularity. Messrs Henderson's collection included some supposed newly-imported species, the value of which will have to be determined when they become more developed. A very nice group of winter-blooming Orchids, exhibited by Messrs Veitch & Sons, went far to show their value for house-decoration at this season of the year.
They included Masdevallia Veitchii, with one very fine flower; Vanda insignis, very handsome; Oncidium Phalaenopsis, prettily flowered and very charming; and a few others quite as beautiful. At the nurseries of Mr William Bull, at Chelsea, can now be seen in bloom, in an intermediate house, a very interesting collection of winter-blooming Orchids, of which we shall give some account very shortly. Of winter-blooming flowers what can compare with the Cyclamen Persicum? At this meeting two groups of plants were furnished, one by Mr Edmunds of Hayes, the other by Mr Welch, Parkfield House, Hillingdon; and those best acquainted with the Cyclamen, and the high state of development to which it has been brought, were struck with the marked beauty of some of the flowers in these collections. Thanks to Mr Wiggins and others, not only is the treatment of the Cyclamen better understood, but it has also become much more widely grown, and better done in consequence. Mr George, gardener to C. H. Maxwell, Esq., Caversham, was awarded a special certificate for an example of Calanthe vestita, with a marvellously fine spike of flowers; and those veteran nurserymen, Messrs J. & C. Lee of Hammersmith, had a very interesting collection of handsome hardy shrubs grown in tubs.
In the way of new fruits, Mr Crament, gardener to E. Backhouse, Esq., Sunderland, exhibited a seedling Grape, in appearance not unlike the white Tokay, a long well-shapen bunch, but not ripe, as all flavour had departed, supposing it had ever possessed any. From Mr Thomson of Dalkeith came a bunch of his new white Lady Downes Grape, in appearance all that could be desired in a Grape, but with its flavour so undeveloped that it was requested to be shown again in March next. Mr Tillery of Welbeck sent, among a nice collection of Apples and Tears, a seedling Pear said to have been raised from the Chaumontel crossed with Gansels' Bergamot, but it did appear to differ from the Chaumontel. Perhaps some of the finest Chaumontel Pears ever seen grown in the London district were produced on this occasion. They were shown by Mr Hepper, gardener to J. H. Walmisley, Esq., the Elms, Acton, Middlesex, and a special certificate was awarded to them. A good kitchen Apple, under the name of Farmer's Seedling, came from Mrs B. Ord, Whitfield Hall, Cumberland. It has the appearance of being a sort well worthy cultivation.
At this meeting two prizes were given by the Rev. George Kemp, one of the members of the Fruit Committee - one, value £3, for the best, and one, value £2, for the second best, winter dessert of Apples and Pears, three dishes of each. There were several competitors, and, the season considered, the fruit was generally good. The best came from Mr Garland, gardener to Sir T. D. Acland, Bt., Killerton, Devon, who had Golden Pippin, Nonpareil, and Ross Nonpareil Apples; and the following Pears, Winter Nelis, Glout Morceau, and Bergamotte Esperen. The second best came from Mr S. Ford, gardener to W. E. Hubbard, Esq., St Leonards, who had Ribston Pippin, Blenheim Pippin, and Red Pearmain Apples and Knight's Monarch very fine; Duchesse d'Augouleme and Josephine de Malines Pears. Messrs Tillery; W. Early, Digswell; and Gilbert, Burghley Park, also exhibited, so there was no lack of interest in the competition. After all, the best-flavoured Apple among all those exhibited on this occasion was Cox's Orange Pippin, from Mr F. N. Dancer, Turnham Green.