This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
What wonders have been achieved in the vegetable kingdom by cross-fertilization in our own time! But still greater wonders are to be realized by this art as time advances, producing new and improved varieties of still greater excellence. Instances are so numerous of wonderful improvement by the application of this art in the production of mag-nificent fruits, flowers, and vegetables, as to need no reference in detail. I have so often, during the forty years of my own experience, alluded to the importance of this art as the true means of rapid progress, that I refrain from extended remark and desire only to repeat again my former advice, to plant the most perfect and mature seed of our very best fruits, and as the means of more rapid progress to cross-fertilize our finest fruits for still greater excellence. Thus I have discoursed to you for many years - thus I have promised to do while I live. This is our work, to direct and help Nature on in the course of improvement.
Who that has witnessed the amazing improvement by the application of this art in the rose, camellia, dahlia, azalea, and other plants in our own time, - who that has seen the hybrid grapes of Ricketts, Rogers, Ellwanger & Barry, Moore, Campbell, and other practitioners, can doubt the potent influence of the cross-impregnation of plants ? Who that reflects on the astonishing advance made by hybridization of the camellia in France and Italy, the camellia and azalea in Belgium, England, and France, and the im-provement in the vegetable kingdom generally, can hesitate to say that this art is the great secret and source of the wonderful advance which has been achieved during the last half of the present century ? Who that has seen the magnificent plants in our own conservatories, or the grand plant collections of England produced by this art, but would exclaim, "Truly, here, at last, have we found the philosopher's stone !"
This improvement is all within the hand of man, to use it as he will. The field of progress is endless, and it is your duty, gentleman, to occupy the ground. The same Divine power that gave us the infinite species of plants and trees, also furnished them with the ability not only to perpetuate themselves, but under judicious treatment, and a wise selection of parents, to produce indefinitely still better varieties than we now possess. In a word, we must depend mainly on the production from seed for fruits adapted to the various locations of our vast territory. And what richer legacy can a man leave to the generations that are to follow him, than a fine, delicious fruit, which he shall have originated by his own hand. This will be a living monument to his memory when posterity shall recline beneath the shade of its branches, and pluck the luscious fruit from the trees which he has left them.