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.
The thought has often crossed our mind - "Does the human race progress as a whole ?" We suppose the voice from the aggregate would be in the affirmative; and as examples in proof, reference would be made to the telegraph, the steam-engine, and a host of other inventions, not forgetting the improved weapons of death, for the quicker and sharper man can slay his fellow-man, so it also shows the progressive intellectual condition of man, brave, noble man. But let us come nearer home and talk of horticulture, that solacing occupation that tames the savage, attracts the would-be assassin in wonder from his evil pursuits, and makes the warrior, not a slayer of his brother Abel, but an energetic tiller of the ground, and all men better men who study nature and God in and through His works. We would that horticulture were progressive from its noble founder Adam to the present moment; but we are at the same time sorry to say that we think otherwise; for where there is advancement, it is rarely found among those who labor in it for a living and claim it as their profession. We mean gardeners.
There are but few who read; few who ever subscribe to a horticultural magazine; few that are observing; and scarcely one in a hundred who knows anything of vegetable physiology, and to whom botany is a dead language, and the operations of their occupation are mechanical. Almost in every instance where we find a horticultural journal, it is on the tables of the gardener's employer. This is proper enough; but it certainly should be in the hands of every man claiming to be a gardener. There are very honorable exceptions to the statement made, and we say respectfully to such, that they have a weighty duty to perform, and that is, the advancement of all others where they see it is needed. No man need feel that by imparting knowledge to another that such will be injurious to himself, for the very opposite will be the result. Every finely laid-out place, every properly regulated garden we see, with all its fruit-trees correctly named, will impress this order of things on the mind and taste of the employer, and hence his unwillingness ever to permit anything different. This makes good situations and creates the desire for good, neat, clean, practical, clever gardeners.
It was only the other day that we were called into a gentleman's grounds to advise in matters relating to its fruit culture, and it is only one instance among many that come under our observation. Money appeared to us to have been spent liberally; but, said this gentleman, "I am utterly dissatisfied with this comfortless state of things. Here I have in this garden some fire or six hundred pear-trees, and don't know the name of one of them ! There is four hundred feet of a grapery, and the fruit (the majority) is so poor, colorless, and watery that I am ashamed to place it on my table for dessert when I have company; and another thing is, I can not, under the circumstances, take any gentleman through these houses. And I have come to the conclusion, that if I can not have better results than is manifested here at the present time, I will pull the whole thing down and discontinue its use, for I am determined not to be annoyed with it." "Has not your gardener suggested some alterations, sir, which have not been yet effected, and which would produce the proper requirements if done ?" "We will take a walk through the houses, and I will introduce you to the gardener." "Your Hamburghs appear to color poorly," was our remark. "Yes, sir; you see the Hamburghs, and Muscats, with other sorts, are planted mixed up, and they never do this way for any length of time, for after a while they will mix up? This to us was new in the science of morphology; we noted the hint and walked on.
This is no over-colored picture, reader, but as near as our memory serves us, the verbatim of that spoken.
Neither are such erroneous ideas confined to those practicing horticulture, for we notice a correspondent in the Farmers' Chronicle, by the name of G. S. Innis, discussing the question whether potatoes will mix up, and gives several cases of his own experience, where he planted pure Nesh-annocks and pure Pinkeyes in the same hill and grew them together, and lo! they turned out true (the potatoes) to their kind, and continued so for ever after ! " But white corn and yellow corn will ' mix up,' and why not potatoes and grapevines?" When we find the stalks of white and red corn "mixing up," then we may rely upon it that every other plant and tree grown will "mix up;" till then, however, things will go on as they now are, which is the "mixing up" of seeds (in some cases) the plant produces. Let it be understood as a fact or law in nature, that no hybridizing or artificial fecundation ever effects any change in, or on, the organization of the plant so fecundated, but in the seed of the plant so fertilized.
Hence corn becomes "mixed up" when white and red are grown together, and also in the case of the potato in question; if the Neshan-nocks and Pinkeyes were planted in the same hill and produced flowers, and the one variety became naturally fecundated by the other, a " mixing up" would be the result. This would be in the seeds; but in order to positively know that a "mixing up" had been effected, the seeds produced must be sown, when the young progeny would at once determine the fact of a cross being effected by the appearance of the potatoes the plants produce. But no change could possibly take place in the two original potato tubers placed in the hill, any more than there could be a change or " mixing up" of two varieties of apple-trees growing side by side in an orchard, or two varieties of grapevines growing side by side in a vinery or vineyard.
When we see intelligent men discussing such points in our agricultural papers on the subject of "mixing up" two tubers of potatoes by planting together in a hill and allowing them to grow together, to see if that will effect a change of variety in them another season, it does not seem to augur the rapid progress of our art as we would wish it, but per contra, especially when editors seem to enjoy with innocent zest the ludicrous experiment of things "mixed up." John Ellis.