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.
Booking at the Victoria Station, Manchester, for Galashiels, after "doing" the International, a six hours' ride brought us into the immediate vicinity of the valley of the Tweed, classic through the prose and rhyme of the past and celebrated by the enterprise of the present day. Who has not heard of ancient Melrose and its picturesque neighbourhood, with all their inspiring reminiscences of Sir Walter Scott and other Border worthies? and who has not heard of the modern Tweed Vineyard with its unparalleled Graperies and Pineries, situated three miles from Galashiels in a somewhat outlandish-like quarter of this classic region? Two minutes' walk from Clovenfords station stands the hospitable dwelling of Mr Thomson, which we pass through by the conservatory, gay with the finest of Mr Pearson's seedling Geraniums, which Mr Thomson thinks highly of, and proceed to the vinery corridor. Before, however, noticing the crops, I will give a brief outline of this block of structures. The corridor is a span-roofed house 148 feet in length and 26 feet in width, with 4 feet of an upright sash and IS feet of a rafter.
From this corridor, and running at a right angle with it, other three span-roofed houses of the same construction are entered, one running into each end, and one in the centre, 200 feet long each, and 24 feet wide. All the ventilation of these is worked from the corridor. The top is lifted up by means of one of Baird's patent wheels and screw. The front sashes are hung in the centre, attached to a rod with bars, and worked by a simple arrangement of wheels from the end. The whole are supported on strong stone blocks with openings between, giving the roots free access to the outside borders, a space of 30 feet, which is not yet fully made up - an addition of 2 feet being applied yearly. 7600 feet of 4-inch piping is arranged in these four houses. This quantity at first was worked entirely by one boiler 18 feet long, in shape like one of the old Cornish tubular boilers, having a skin of water 2 inches thick all round the fire, which is in the centre of the tube. In case of accident another smaller one of the same form was subsequently attached, and is now worked when required.
Returning to the crops, and starting with the corridor, the Vines in this house as well as in all the others, are plauted in what may be termed double rows, a row of permanent ones being placed in the space between the front sashes and the hot-water pipes; another row of supernumeraries is temporarily planted on the other side of the pipes. One side is wholly plauted with Duke of Buccleuch; each stem has two rods trained in the form of the letter V. The others are Black Hamburgs, Duchess of Buccleuch, Grizzly, and White Frontignans, Royal Muscadines, Madrestield Court, and a number of Golden Champion. The few still hanging of this latter variety were splendid; great berries, some of which I saw placed on the scales, weighing 3/4 oz. each, and perfectly free from spot. This house is the earliest, coming in about the beginning of July, when the fruit is mostly sold on the place to visitors, who frequent it in great numbers. The wood made this season is excellent, strong, hard, and brown to the very top.
Passing into the Muscat-house, the crop here is immense.' The half is planted with Duke of Buccleuch, the other with Muscats and a few Golden Champion. "What impressed me in this house was the noble deportment of the Duke. The growth is most robust; bunches, some two on a shoot, fine and symmetrical; berries enormous, just gaining that golden amber colour which it puts on so well. I have tasted this Grape frequently at various shows, and have now had an opportunity of examining plants, berries, and bunches by the score, and I can assure your readers it possesses all the qualities attributed to it. Whatever may occur elsewhere with this Grape, its free-growing, fertile and genuine character at Clovenfords is, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion. The Muscats were fast ripening, and above an average crop.
Next entering the centre house, the display viewed from the end is magnificent, the jet-black clusters having a most imposing and striking appearance amongst the luxuriant green and yellow tinted foliage, perspectively terminating in what appears to be an unbroken mass of black Grapes. Gros Colman, the largest berried of all our black Grapes, is here grown extensively, finishing well, and is a grand market sort. Lady Downes is bearing heavy crops, many bunches over 2 lb. in weight, and finely finished. Barbarossas were carrying large fine shouldered-bunches; but Mr Thomson thinks it requires more heat than can be given in this late house, and is therefore going to introduce it largely into the Muscat-house, where a higher temperature can be maintained. Seacliffe Black was showing well. Black Alicante has done well, and is regarded as a valuable late Grape; Madresfield Court was also bearing a good crop: Mr Thomson thinks highly of the appearance of this Grape up to the time it is about to finish, when he has good cause to regard it as worthless: not a berry of it has he ever been able to send to market; whole bunches crack and decay in a few days before they are thoroughly matured.
I do not write this in contemptuous speculation; at home and abroad, in England and Scotland, I find it the same. The last house in this range is exclusively devoted to Lady Downes. The crop is wonderful. Thousands of remarkably fine compact bunches, all nearly of equal size, are fast gaining maturity. Another great house, 200 feet long and 24 feet wide, with 2400 feet of piping, stands apart from the principal ranges on a slight eminence, and is maiuly planted with Lady Downes, and here and there an Alicant. Another smaller vinery, 70 feet long and 15 feet wide, stands near this, and is exclusively for Lady Downes, the fruit annually hanging in it to April. A watering-pot is never used in one of these vineries: the supply of pure water no way polluted is unlimited. The reservoir is at a considerable elevation above the vineyard, where it is supplied to each house by smaller pipes; these enter and are coiled round the side of the expansion tanks; in this way the cold water becomes mild before being applied.