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 number of wealthy amateurs, who love gardening, and do their best to encourage a spirit of emulation, which reacts favorably on public taste, is very large around Boston; these mostly support ably the exhibitions of the Horticultural Society. Hence, the cityis famous for its neat and tastefully kept public squares, gardens and cemeteries. The miserable, dirty holes which you call public squares in Philadelphia, would not be tolerated here for an instant. A correspondent says: "The weekly meetings of our society always have something of special interest; and so great is the public desire to know all about its doings, that our newspapers take special pains to have full reports written by persons who understand what they are reporting, prepared for them. I think the meetings recently have been of more than usual interest, especially the one that has just closed. It has proved to be the most successful, on the whole, of any of the annual exhibitions made by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society-The attendance has been double that of last season, and the cash receipts for admissions have been proportionate.
The managers accordingly feel that their efforts in the past have been effective to the end proposed, namely, the education of the public mind to a genuine interest in horticulture, whether in the practical form as cultivators of garden products, or in what, perhaps, may be termed the philosophical and aesthetic form as lovers of progress in the useful arts, and of the beautiful in nature. While contributions of actually novel growths of fruits or flowers were not numerous, such were not lacking in the exhibition of this year. The success of the exhibition as a demonstration, was rather in the presentation of superior specimens of known growths, which had already gained recognition and favor. In respect to fruits, so many superior varieties are already known, that a new or seedling product must be of high excellence to warrant exhibition. Accordingly, any considerable number of these is not looked for. Among the grapes there were, however, two seedling exhibits not before seen in Boston. One, called the Oberon grape, originated in Ohio. It is a hybrid, partaking of the qualities of the Concord and the Muscat Hamburg. The other was the Alnwick seedling, which, as its name might suggest, is of English origin.
The particular specimens of this grape shown were grown on the estate of R. M. Pratt in Belmont, Mass.; the exhibitor being David Allan, the gardener of the estate. It is said to be a grape which keeps well, and in England, where it has a high reputation, it is held in store in good condition until May".
It was prize day for tropseolums and marigolds, and large displays of both were made, especially of marigolds. The first thing that strikes one in viewing such an exhibition is the marvelous variety into which the few types of these flowers have sported. But a few years ago the tropaeo-lums or nasturtiums - "stertians," as they were frequently called - were represented by a single color, orange red, but now we have an endless variety, from pale yellow to brown or fulvous. Marigolds are of a greater number of species, but the few types formerly known are greatly varied in size, form and color, and are both double and single. All these types of both flowers were well represented in the exhibition to-day. It was also prize day for single dahlias, and, although in one sense these are the oldest of all, - the numberless variety of double dahlias having sprung from the single, - it is only within a few years that the latter have been improved by the florist's art and been generally cultivated in our gardens. The specimens shown were abundant and excellent, some of the striped varieties being very remarkable.
All the prizes offered for flowers were awarded.
A collection of Scabiosa or Mourning Bride, from D. Zirngiebel, was another example of the results of the florist's art, the flowers, which were originally of a dark, rich maroon color, having sported to crimson, pink of several shades, purple, and almost white.
One of the leading patrons of horticulture here, is Mr. R. M. Pratt, whose gardener, David Allen, usually manages to walk away with both pockets full of premiums. He had here a bunch of Black Hamburg Grapes that weighed five pounds and four ounces. Our veteran flower-lover, C. M. Ho-vey, is usually among the exhibitors, and Messrs. H. H. Hunnewell, F. L. Ames and Samuel R. Pay-son, contribute of their rich stores. The exhibitors of fruits and vegetables are legion.