This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The exhibit showed a gratifying improvement in cultural skill over the exhibit of last year, with room for a still greater advance another season. The amateur exhibitors had by far the best grown specimens; in this respect inverting the general rule in the Old World, where the growers take care to show the best that can be done. The best twenty-five was awarded to John Shaw, gardener to the Friends' Asylum. The plants were from two and a half to three feet high, not trained to single stems, with about five to ten stakes in each potto make nice, shapely plants; and the flowers were also tied out by invisible thread, so as to have an uniform appearance over the whole plant. The heads of the plants were rounded, and the general contour rather cylindrical, inclining a little to balloon shape. It was a very tasteful form. In most cases the plants had lost their lower leaves for perhaps one-fourth the distance from the pot. About one-half the depth of the plant had flowers.
Another very fine collection was by Mr. Val-landigham, gardener to Wistar Morris. These were on the single-stem plan, in twelve-inch pots. The stems, however, branched pretty close to the ground. The plants were about three feet high, the flowers being borne in a rather flat head of about one hundred flowers, extending about two feet across. Some of the flowers were very large; and one white variety, called Luna, very double, with numerous strap-shaped petals, forming a perfect hemisphere, was admired by everybody. Mr. J. Wooding, gardener to Mr. Roberts, had the first premium for an amateur collection of six. These were on single stems, and were about two feet, over and rather flat on the top.
The first amateur twelve was awarded to Mr. Kerr, gardener to George Bullock, Esq., not grown on single stems, and with less stakes to help the form, than some others, running from five to twenty each pot. They were peculiar in bearing a greater number of flowers to a plant than some others. We counted two hundred on one plant. The tops of the plants were rather flat, and the flowers extended down one-fourth the distance on the sides. The same grower has a premium for the best single specimen of any color, by an amateur. It was a bronzy-orange, about three feet high and three feet over, and had about three hundred flowers. The best single specimen, white, was awarded to John Shaw. This was Pravenna. It had ten stakes to govern its form, was about three feet high, with a hemispherical top, and the flowers quite large for the variety.
A special premium was very worthily awarded for an amateur collection of twenty-five, to Frederick Sykes, gardener to Mrs. Harry Ingersoll. Though it was evident that, for magnitude of the plants, and some other features that could not be overlooked by the judges, other collections deserved the regular premiums, this collection had some of the best evidences of cultural skill of any exhibited. The plants had been made to grow strong, so that the plants would hold their heads! up without much assistance from string, and they were quite uniform in outline, though assisted by about two or three stakes to a pot. The flowers were large, and had a very healthy, contented look; and the leaves were green and healthy down to the surface of the pot. This exhibitor evidently knows what a chrysanthemum wants, in order to be happy, and if he were to lay himself out to do it, we fancy he might make some of his competitors look sharp after their laurels. He had the first premium for amateurs' yellow. The plant was about three feet high and two and a half across.
Some of the flowers measured four inches across.
The growers' plants were all smaller, and showed less effort at good culture, but there were some in various collections very good, indeed, ranging from a foot and a half high and wide, by as much in diameter. Some, in the collection of the Fergussons, had been left to grow without any stakes at all, were stout and self-supporting, of fair outline, and clothed to the ground with healthy foliage. A plant of Elaine - perhaps the most popular with florists as a white for cut flowers - about two feet high and two feet across, grown by Craig & Brother, had a special premium awarded it. For good plants in pots so small as six inches» John William Colflesh had a nice, well-bloomed set of plants, but some had lost their lower leaves. The first premium for growers was to Fergussons but these were in ten-inch pots. It would be a good idea to have special competition for plants grown in small pots, as well as for plants grown in larger ones. Mr. Harris had a collection of seedlings, many of them fully equal to the best foreign importations. One was thought worthy, by the committee, to be named and distributed.
It will be called after the society's late president, William L. Schaffer. It is a free-blooming white, with each flower about four inches over.
In the cut-flower division, it must have puzzled the judges to make awards judiciously, in the absence of any recognized rules for judging. "The best collection of cut flowers" is a very indefinite offer. The number of varieties must probably be considered; the best display they make in the hall, t,he most tasteful manner in which they are displayed, the size of the individual flowers, the rarity of the individual varieties, must all be taken into account. For all these points the judges were no doubt correct in awarding the first premium to Henry A. Dreer, though the collections of W. K. Harris, and Walter Coles, of Delaware, had finer flowers of the same varieties exhibited in the first premium set.
Among others who contributed to this excellent display, were Messrs. Kift, Schaffer and Fox, well-known florists of Philadelphia.
The exhibition followed the national election, and had a fair attendance of ladies, who, having no vote, could afford to look at flowers. The men were mostly looking at newspaper bulletin-boards, some wondering whether for the next four years the principles they severally believed to be for the good of the country would prevail; while others, instigated by wily politicians to a belief that they were severally choosing "the best man," were wondering whether their several "choices" had slipped from their hands. All these were not at the show, and, so far as receipts are concerned, we judge the exhibition was not a full success.