This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", 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.
Next in point of importance to those fruits already considered is the Cherry. Different authors have given different classifications, divisions, and subdivisions. To my mind the two best are those of Mr Thompson - which were first published in the 'Horticultural Transactions,' second series, vol. i. p. 251, and afterwards by him reproduced in his 'Gardeners' Assistant,' page 256 - and that of Dr Hogg, at page 68 of the third edition of his 'Fruit Manual.' The former, by Mr Thompson, is the more elaborate of the two, and the best suited for defining minutely small points of difference existing between kinds which, although closely resembling each other, yet present appreciable differences. Cherries he has divided into two classes, the first having leaves waved on the margins; the second having leaves with the margins plain. Each of these classes he has divided into two divisions, the first representing "fruit heart-shaped, oval, or roundish;" the second, " fruit round or oblate." These divisions are each subdivided, the first into three orders, each according to the colour of the fruit.
The second also into two orders, the first including Cherries with "flesh sweet;" the second, Cherries with "flesh acid." This is further divided into sub-orders, the first being Cherries with "juice pale;" the second those with "juice purple." This, to my mind, is the best and most simple, yet the most elaborate and comprehensive arrangement we possess. Any man of ordinary intelligence can easily arrange the class, division, or order to which any Cherry may belong by the aid of Thompson's classification.
Dr Hogg classifies all the varieties of Cherries under eight races. His arrangements, although admirable, are not so well defined as those already noticed. His eight races are - 1st, The sweet heart-shaped Cherries with tender and dark-coloured flesh, which he has termed Black Geans; 2d, The pale-coloured sweet Cherries, with tender and translucent flesh and skin, which he terms "Bed Geans." The 3d he terms "Black Hearts," which are those "dark-coloured sweet Cherries" somewhat resembling the Bigarreau, but whose "flesh is not so firm and crackling." The 4th includes the White Hearts or Bigarreaus, with red or light-coloured mottled skin and hard crackling flesh. The 5th he terms Black Dukes, and have dark skin and flesh and deeply-coloured juice. The 6th embraces all those nearly allied to the Black Dukes, but with pale red skin, translucent skin and flesh, and uncoloured juice; these he calls Red Dukes. The 7th includes all those the trees of which have long, slender, and pendant shoots, and dark-coloured fruit with acid-coloured juice, and are termed Black Morellos. The 8th he designates Red Morellos; they include all those pale red acid varieties of which the Kentish Cherry is the type.
As in all other kinds of fruits, new varieties can only be obtained from seed. The same care in the selection of parents ought to be exercised with the Cherry as in the case of other fruits. Only by using such means can success be hoped for. No doubt we have many varieties, which, so far as flavour is concerned, are sufficient to meet the requirements of most palates. The principal object to be aimed at in the production of new varieties is to prolong the season of the sweet Cherries. The beginning or middle of September is the latest possible time we can have them now; but with care in selecting parents, I hope this period may eventually be extended at least another month. Next in importance is an increased size of the fruit. This may not be of such easy accomplishment, yet I consider it to be an aim worthy the attempt. He who accomplishes one or both of these objects, will have a claim to the gratitude of all horticulturists. Whether the raising of stocks or of new varieties be the aim, the stones of the Cherry may be sown when the fruit is used; or, to quote Mr Thompson, "They may be stratified till early in spring, when those that are beginning to germinate should be planted in drills and covered over to the depth of 1 1/2 inches." They are generally sown in the summer in drills an inch deep, on light sandy soil, into which the stones may be deposited 2 or 3 inches apart.
In the following spring they will germinate and make a small shoot; while the second season they will make shoots varying from 1 to 2 or 3 feet in length, according to the varieties, and the health and vigour of the plants. The small black or red wild Cherry is recommended by some as being the best to use for stocks, while the Duke and Morello Cherries are also favourably spoken of by others. At the end of the second year's growth the seedlings should be taken from the seedbeds, and planted in nursery-lines 2 feet apart, and 1 foot between the plants in the line. After making another year's growth the best of them will be ready for budding or grafting, as the case may be. If they are to be worked as standards at the height of 4 to 6 feet from the ground, it will be necessary to grow them on for two or three years longer, tied carefully to a stake to the desired height. Those grown for this purpose will require to be planted wider in the rows than those intended for working as dwarfs. Nurserymen sometimes use layers, suckers, or cuttings, to work the Cherry on. This is a bad practice, as the trees are never so healthy nor so long-lived as when the stock is raised from seed. As already indicated, known varieties are propagated by budding and grafting on stocks raised for the purpose.
Budding is recommended by some as being the surest method of securing success; the bark of the Cherry being so thin that it is a difficult task to insert a graft neatly and securely without injuring the epidermis. Others affirm that trees which have been grafted are far more liable to gum secretions than those which have been budded. I can affirm regarding the former point, that, in my experience, budding is most easily performed of the two, and the one found most successful. I would, therefore, recommend budding the Cherry. The best time to bud is the end of July, or beginning or middle of August. As a rule, this must be performed when stock and scion or bud are in the best condition. The wood from which the bud is taken must be hard, firm, and comparatively ripe. The bud itself must be plump, firm, and brown, with a nice fresh leaf at its base. If these things be the case, then the budding may be proceeded with, as the bud with a portion of the bark attached will readily part from the wood of the branch.
The bud may be inserted in the stock in any of the modes in general use, but the simplest and best, to my idea, is that known as the shield or T budding, already referred to in connection with the Pear and Apple. Great care should, however, be taken at all times never to bind too tightly, as in the case of the Cherry nothing is more likely to cause gum to exude than bandages tight enough to mark or cut the bark. Those who may wish to graft Cherries may do so at the usual grafting season in March or the beginning of April. The scion should in every case be taken off in winter - not later than the end of December or beginning of January - and inserted in the ground till required. Mr Thompson, giving his experience on this point, states, "We have seen vigorous shoots with large pith cut off for scions, and stuck in the ground in January; and though in March, when grafted, the pith was discoloured, being of a dark instead of a light colour, yet they all succeeded; whilst scions cut off and grafted fresh failed to a considerable extent, although treated with the same care in every other respect." The grafting of the Cherry is performed in a similar way to that already recommended for other fruits.
(To be continued).