This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
A goodly company attended this, the largest sale we remember in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, both for extent and variety. The bidding opened quite spiritedly, and we soon found that our distant friends were here, by their proxies, at least, and that Baltimore especially was well represented. Many of the finest of the hard-ier greenhonse plants were secured for that region, as much as twenty dollars having been given for some of the fine Indian azaleas. Some of the rare plants were sold at a great sacrifice, considering the size of the specimens, though this was by no means universally the case. A fine plant of Gardenia Stanleyana brought $5 25, the Brownea grandiceps brought $40, and two small plants of the Hand-Shaped Lemon, $5 25 and $6 25. A small Lime-tree sold for $5, and some species of Metros!-deros at $8 50 to $4. A moderate specimen of Rhododendron Gibsonii, $9, and some large specimens of R. arboreum at prices averaging $25. An European Olive (six feet high), $6, and a sweet one (O. fragrans), same height, $18. Eugenia ugni, the new and rare fruity for $2; a handsome E. myrtifolia, $10. Cycas revoluta (three feet high), $25. Large Oranges and Lemons, $20 to $42. A very large Strelitzia reginae, $19. Fine specimens of yellow and white Banksian Roses, $18 and $10. A beautiful specimen of the Camphor-tree, $1*. The Camellias were in too great quantity for the number of buyers, and though the bidding was for a time quite spirited, and they realized fair prices, they eventually fell to a low rate, and, on the whole, went at a great sacrifice.
The rarer kinds of Orchidea realized prices varying from $3 to $11. A small specimen of the Elephant's Foot brought $15. A large number of rustic hanging baskets of very simple construction, but filled with beautiful, yet mostly common plants, brought very good prices. This should encourage gardeners to prepare for the demand for these articles, which is increasing every day* The new proprietor (Mr. Stuart), and .Mr. Dundas, of Philadelphia, kept the lead in the Orchidea; many fine specimens of these, how-ever, and of the miscellaneous plants, were bought by Mr. Starr, of Camden, N. J. Among the purchasers of the latter description, were Mr. McHenry, of Baltimore, Mr. Shipley, of Wilmington, Del., Mr. T. P. Barton, of Montgomery Place, N. Y. and Gen. George Cadwalader, Mr. Joseph Harrison, and Mr, John Bohlen, of Philadelphia, and Mr. Stuart.- Mr. G. W. Carpenter, of Germantown, was a liberal purchaser of Camellias, the largest specimens of which, however, ranging from $19 to $80, were bought by Mr. W. H. Stewart, of Torresdale. Mr. T. Meehan, of Germantown (formerly gardener to Mr. Cope), became the possessor of the Cactuses; this extensive family produced $400.
Thus has fallen one of the finest collections of plants in this country, all of them, with a singly exception, being entirely dispersed. We sincerely trust that Mr. Cope will find that health in his native Pennsylvania mountains, which the cares of a long life of successful business activity seemed likely to deprive him of, and in his retirement from the details of his horticultural experiments, we are quite sure he will carry with him the gratitude and esteem of every lover of plants in the Union, for whom, and for whose cause, he has accomplished so very much.
It would be unjust to the merits of Mr. Cope's late gardener (Mr. Jerome Graff), did we fail to notice the excellent order and superior neatness of everything under his charge. It was the theme of general remark, and left a deep impression of Mr. Graff's talents and abilities. Examples of neatness are but too rare in all countries; the opportunity of inspecting what care and attention can effect, has not been lost, we are confident, upon the succession of visitors who were on the ground for the three days of the sale.
The bringing of these extensive conservatories and greenhouses to the hammer, affords several topics of interest to the lover of flowers. It is desirable to know, for instance, the value, tested by a public sale, of such a private collection, so long and carefully kept, and to notice the variation of prices in a succession of years; Borne improve by age, but others depreciate with increased cultivation.
The entire collection realized $3,500, a sum which must be deemed very satisfactory, showing, as it does, that such an investment is not thrown away, if, indeed, it may not produce much more than the first cost of the plants, and this is certainly not discouraging to the incipient builder of greenhouses.
The Camellias, Cactuses, and Orchids, sold very low as compared with former sales. At the closing, for instance, of the Landreth plants, a Camellia Landrethii brought $45; the same bush, having the advantage of age and increased size, produced but $19. The highest price given for a White was $21; an Imbricata brought $30, and a Myrtifolia $24, while a few White, about eighteen inches high, worked plants, were bid off at twenty-five cents. The truth is, there were so many plants to sell, that purchasers became weary of attendance.
The cheapest plant sold was perhaps the Agave Americana, for $50; three times that sum would have been given for it, but that it is so unwieldy. Smaller ones brought $25.
The sale demonstrates another thing; that still plenty of devotees are pursuing the subject of plant cnlture with enthusiasm, and in a liberal and enlightened spirit. There was one circumstance, at the close of the sale, which was touching in the extreme, and, we are sure, to none more so than to Mr. Cope himself. In consequence of Mr. Meehan, who assisted the auctioneer, having left before the close of the sale, it fell to the lot of Mr. C. himself,*to cry out the names of the few last specimens. Few but lovers of plants can imagine the feelings of sadness he mnst have experienced when he handed out the very last, amidst thunder and lightning; it happened to be the " Flower of the Holy Spirit" (Espiritu santo)! Here was a gentleman voluntarily renouncing his pursuits other than business, and with feelings of regret, handing to another's care his last stake, and that was the " Flower of the Holy Spirit." A sadness mnst come over his spirits as he goes through his denuded houses, and sees no more those objects of his daily care, which had for so many years been a source of pleasure to him, and also to his many friends, and always calculated to multiply impressive lessons of the power and munificence of the great Maker of them all. " But sooner or later," he says in a private note to us, " we must resign them, with profound gratitude for the mercies still extended." As a horticulturist, we are fain to consider this dispersion as a calamity, but we pass the collection to new hands with trust and hope.
The owner has been most liberal; he has the means and the will to be liberal still. If shown in other ways, it will only be a change from one liberality to another.