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.
To whatever department of the economy of nature we turn our attention, having for our object the study of the various means by which we may obtain a desired end, there are difficulties to be overcome, barriers to be surmounted, and mysteries to be solved, of which none save those who have manfully tried can form an approximate idea. In a climate such as Britain, these difficulties are even greater than in many other portions of our globe, and to master these has been the aim and end of long lives by many of those to whom we look as the pioneers and princes of horticulture. Our seasons are so changeable, our climate so variable, the soil of so many qualities, consistencies, and component parts, that unless the cultivator brings to bear upon his operations the utmost amount of wisdom, skill, and practical ability, no good results can ever be anticipated. A man may be placed in a situation where he may obtain tolerable results, and be looked upon as "a good average gardener." In the course of time he is placed in another situation not far distant, and the result is very different - everything goes wrong, nothing goes right.
For the first year or two he lays the entire blame upon his unfortunate predecessor; but when the tale will no longer "tell" in that way, he blames every one and everything, never for one moment dreaming that probably the greater part of the whole matter rests with himself. Let him, however, apply himself with perseverance and assiduity to consider all the differences that exist between the two places he has filled, and the more he understands this and acts accordingly, the more will be the success he shall acquire. Nature is stubborn, and will have her own way if rebelled against; but let her be "coaxed': and humoured, and she is as docile and gentle as a lamb. The world was made for man, not man for the world; sin, however, abrogated and disannulled the whole of this, and now we stand in quite different relations the one to the other. The soil refuses to yield her crops without labour, toil, and trouble, and man is using the plough and spade in order to conquer and subdue her. How different, however, is this from national warfare, and nation conquering nation ! The one is honourable and elevating, the other dishonouring and degrading to society, both in its social and national relations: the latter is generally - conquered once, conquered for ever; while the other is - conquer once, you must still be conquering, or in turn the vanquished will again become the vanquisher.
To those who put their hands to the practice of horticulture, I would say, let their motto be "Excelsior;" be not content with the advantage gained to-day, but be ready on the morrow still to go forward, "conquering and to conquer" Let no false dreams of acquired popularity or practical reputation lull you to sleep, but study, strive, attempt, and accomplish, and your reward will be great.
We who form the present generation of gardeners have many advantages over our fathers of the past and former generations. Besides all our own experience, we also have the whole of theirs, by which we are enabled to accomplish greater things, and it may be with much less trouble, than they did. We therefore have no claim to all the glory of our accomplishments, but should rather revere and hallow their memories, giving to them their due share of honour for the great strides and achievements of modern horticulture.
I purpose, in a few papers, to lay before the readers of the' Gardener' a concise practical and theoretical account of the propagation, culture, and management of the leading hardy fruits cultivated in Britain; and first of all I would treat of the PEAR, which should be propagated either by budding or grafting upon the Wild Pear stock, Pyrus communis, or any of the varieties used for perry, as well as the Quince stock. It is not uncommon to raise several of the English or common varieties by suckers and layers; these, however, often prove very gross and rank growers, not over productive, and never of high quality. Inarching has also been recommended; but the best, the easiest, and the most successful method is by grafting, of which I will give a detailed account by-and-by. The raising of new varieties is invariably accomplished through the medium of seedlings. Much care and judgment are requisite in order to obtain success in this department of horticulture. No doubt it is quite possible to obtain good and new varieties by simply saving seeds from a good stock, but it will be more chance than anything else if such is the result.
He who wishes to succeed ought to select parents of the following good qualities, viz.: let one parent be a hardy, robustly-constitutioned, free-growing variety, and this I would recommend as the female; the other should have all, or as many of the good qualities - such as size, shape, flavour, and appearance - as it is possible to obtain in one kind. This important point settled, much care and watchfulness will be necessary to obtain blooms on both parents at the exact stage for operating upon. The female parent will require even more watching and care than the male, for there is the danger of self-fertilisation - fertilisation from others than the kind required, either by having the pollen carried upon the air, or upon the legs or proboscis of insects. To obviate the former of these risks, it will be necessary, as recommended by Mr Isaac Anderson - see Lindley's 'Theory of Horticulture,' page 491 - "to divest the blooms to be operated on, not only of their anthers, but also of their corollas." And this I would recommend to be done only with very sharp scissors, used with much care, so as not to injure the pistil.
To guard against the latter contingency, the best plan will be to remove all the blooms, save those wanted for the operation, from the branch or branches, to such an extent as will be covered by a hand-light; these having been removed, watch with care until the pollen is beginning to ripen upon the male, and the female gives signs of susceptibility; then place a handlight over the female, filling up every crevice by the easiest means at command, so as to exclude the possible entrance of any insect. As soon as the flowers show signs of being ready, remove the light, and impregnate with a camel-hair pencil; after which, replace the glass, and remove it not until all danger of impregnation from exterior sources is over. It may be necessary also to shade from the direct rays of the sun, as the confined air within the handlight may get over-heated, and burn flowers, leaves, and all. In place, however, of covering over the light, let a mat be placed in such a position as to keep off the sun, without retarding the light, which may be done in the following manner: Nail a mat, say, 2 feet above the light, and let it be extended, at an angle of 45°, to two stakes, placed 5 feet out in the border, which will answer admirably the end in view.