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.
It is a pleasure to me to be able to furnish you with some particulars about the chrysanthemums as shown in New York the past season; also to supplement the remarks of Mr. Wooding, relating to growing and exhibiting the single specimen plant grown by me, and exhibited at the New York Horticultural Show. It was six feet in diameter (not circumference, as in your note), grown in a pot the whole season; but the plant had been grown the year previous in a seven-inch pot and all the shoots, eleven in number, allowed to grow; other plants under the same treatment and conditions were over five feet in diameter. These were fine effective plants, but I had a great many other plants that gave me more professional pleasure and credit than these - such as were grown from cuttings of January to March, notably a plant of "Temple of Solomon" which was not rooted before quite the end of March, and when exhibited was nearly four feet in diameter, a solid mass of rich golden yellow, and sold for $14.
The popularity the chrysanthemum has obtained is of the most universal character, which undoubtedly will grow steadily and become permanent, so much so as to warrant my predicting, it will not be long ere we see every city, large and small, forming societies for the exhibiting of it all over the Union. There is no plant more showy, lasting, or beautiful; besides, it lengthens out the season fully six weeks, is thoroughly republican and cheaply obtained.
Returning to Mr. Wooding's criticism and your note respecting the manner of awarding prizes. I am sure you will admit there are " two sides to every question," and I have no doubt the judges at Philadelphia were aware of that fact also. Now, did the judges make any mistake? Did the society make any mistake? These are questions not easily answered I admit, yet, we must look on all sides and consider all points. If there were no restrictions in the schedule as to whether plants shall be grown in pots or not and the contributor to whom was awarded the first prize had plants the largest, had the best foliage, the most and equally as good flowers, he was entitled to the prize, from the fact of there being no restriction, and from common usage the chrysanthemum is so much subjected to being planted out in summer, dug up and potted as to make it more eligible than if some other class of plants was the point in question, presuming these same plants were dug at least a month or five weeks previous. How long a time is necessary to constitute a plant pot-grown? It may be said the society ought to have provided for these issues, but as they did not, what are you going to do about it? It is not only the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society that should do this or that, if they wish to encourage the best skill in horticulture, but it is every society in the country.
There is not a schedule printed but what is more or less ambiguous- - when it is quite as easy to make things plain and intelligible; this is much to be regretted. I always maintain there are instructions due alike to exhibitors and to judges - a few rules so worded as to be easily understood of what is considered a nearly perfect specimen would not only help those immediately interested, but it would educate the people, prevent bickerings and insure more interest. Returning to the chrysanthemums grown in pots, I am always on the side of skill and ability and for all that belongs to it. To grow chrysanthemums successfully in pots - to be well furnished with foliage, perfect flowers and truly colored - is a task of which "eternal vigilance is the price." It may i appear that there is not much skill required but there is a good deal of attention, so much so that the man who grows them is neither sloth nor sluggard.
These are the points for the consideration of horticultural societies, and where time is money, there are few plants that cost more to grow than the chrysanthemum - there are few plants that will repay more for being well treated. Classes should be made for single plants growing in pots, the stems to be one inch or more clear before branching; for these the prizes should be larger than for the classes where plants may be grown in the open and lifted; even in this case plants should be from single cuttings. Another class for a given number of plants, say twenty-five, grouped for effect, could be encouraged so as to admit all growers. I shall be pleased to assist in the framing of a prize list, if at any time I may be called upon. The trouble of exhibitors and perplexity of judges - let it be in either flowers, fruit or vegetables - can be easily overcome, by an intelligible and easily understood schedule.
Queens, N. Y.