This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", 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 autumn exhibition of this Society was held in the Waverley Market on 10th September. Excepting the great International Shows, this was generally admitted to be the most extensive show of plants and fruits ever held under the auspices of this or any other Society in Scotland. Of course, after a season of unprecedented cold and wet, hardy fruits and all out-door flowers were both a small show and sadly deficient in size and quality. But this deficiency was amply compensated by the very extensive show of in-door fruit and plants, more especially Grapes, which were staged in great numbers and of first-rate quality generally: indeed, so forcibly does this apply to the show of Grapes, that a place on the prize list was got only by examples of first-rate cultivation. We counted 250 bunches of Grapes on one table, and this did not include any but what were entered in the classes for Grapes exclusively, so that taking the bunches set up in collections, there must have been close on, if not over, 300 bunches exhibited. Pines were neither numerous nor very fine; Peaches were exhibited in splendid condition; and Nectarines, though not so numerous, were good.
In the plant department the local nurserymen contributed extensively and well, all furnishing large tables of stove, greenhouse, and hardy plants and flowers. The Lawson Company on this occasion, instead of placing their extensive exhibits in the usual way on tables, set them on the floor of the market-place, - and it must have been apparent to all how much better the exhibition would have looked as a whole, had every plant in the show been arranged in like manner, and how much better the plants individually could be seen and inspected. Placed on the tables, visitors of dwarf stature are confronted chiefly with the pots, especially when a close inspection is attempted. The managers would do well, we are certain, if they made use in some other way of the unsightly tables, and left the exhibitors to arrange their plants on the floor. So long as these hideous leggy tables are used, the shows will be as nearly as possible a repetition of each other, and visitors will get tired with the stereotyped effect; whereas, if the plants were set on the floor, a new design or order of arrangement could be carried out, at least annually, if not for every show, without any extra expense.
In the limits of the space that we can devote to the reporting of the show, we will not be able to either describe or remark on but a limited number of the prize winning exhibits, but before doing so, we will briefly refer to the nurserymen's exhibitions. Beginning at the west end of the market-place, the Lawson Company had a magnificent collection of Conifera and Shrubs, one bank of which formed a semicircular terminus to the exhibition-ground, and in front of which was a large oval clump of smaller specimens, comprising Golden Yews, Retinosporas, Cupressus, etc, all very effectively arranged and neatly margined with a row of the pretty Golden Box. Besides these two groups, they had two large circles and a crescent-shaped bed of miscellaneous stove and greenhouse plants, including Crotons, Dracaenas, Palms, Anthuriums, mixed with Vallota purpurea, Lilium auratum, Petunias, Pelargoniums, and a nicely - flowered specimen of Clianthus Damperii. This group of beds was very effective, and being below and on a level with the eye, every individual plant could be distinctly seen.
Messrs Methven & Sons followed with a table having down its centre tall Tree-Ferns, Dracaenas, Palms, flanked on each side with all the popular stove fine-foliage plants, intermixed with Liliums, Pelargoniums, and some good plants of Todeas and other Ferns, - in all forming a very effective exhibition. Next came the table of Messrs Downie & Laird, having very tall Palms for the centre of the group, and among fine-foliaged plants on each side were very effectively mixed Phloxes in pots, many of them not yet in commerce, stands of spikes of Phloxes and Pentstemons, Violas and Roses, - many of the Pentstemons and Violas being new and very fine sorts. Messrs Ireland & Thomson's table had for its centre large well-coloured Crotons and Tree-Ferns; and the table was filled up with all the popular fine-foliage plants, having intermixed with them a few Orchids, Begonias, Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora, Nepenthes Sarracenias, Gloxineas, etc. The table of Messrs Dicksons & Co. was also centred with tall Tree-Ferns and Palms, and amongst a general assortment of ornamental foliage plants were placed stands of Carnations, Piccotees, Violas, Liliums, and two boxes of the fine hardy white perennial Matricaria Chammo-milla plena, a most useful plant for mixed borders, shrubberies, and for cutting.
Mr Robertson Munro had a very interesting table of hardy perennial and Alpine plants amounting to about 150 species. This collection served to show - in spite of the large rainfall that has characterised this season - what a bright table can be formed of these hardy plants. A very interesting table was filled from the Royal Botanic Gardens. The group embraced Dionseas, Sarracenias, Bertolonias, curious and pretty Agaves, Nepenthes, good examples of Disa grandiflora, Cyprepidiums, Pepper, Tea, and Coffee plants, etc. This exhibit attracted great attention. A number of large Palms were also sent from the Botanic Gardens.
For the prize offered for collection of twelve dishes of fruit, three exhibitors entered the lists - Mr Johnston of Glamis taking first honour, with a good smooth Cayenne Pine; splendid Muscat of Alexandria, Golden Queen, and Black Hamburg Grapes; Lord Strathmore and Gilbert's improved Victory of Bath Melons; Red Magdalen and Gros Mignon Peaches; and very fine Pitmaston and Dutilly's Nectarines. Mr M'Indoe, Hutton Hall, made an excellent second with a smooth Cayenne Pine; Duke of Buccleuch and Black Hamburg Grapes; Violet Hative, Noblesse, Stirling Castle, and Royal George Peaches; Brunswick Figs, and Merculus Melon. Mr M'Intyre, the Glen, was third with two Pines; Muscat of Alexandria and Black Hamburg Grapes; Nectarines, Apricots, Figs, Plums, Pears, Cherries, and Apples.