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.
We hear quite too little of the amateur horticulturists of North Carolina, and therefore hail with particular pleasure the Annual Address delivered by Senator Thomas L. Clingman, before the State Agricultural Society in October last Incidentally it touches upon many topics of interest, and descants upon the resources of the State, of whose importance those who merely traverse its sandy belt in the railroads, have no just idea. The western portion is not inferior to that of Virginia, and possesses a fine climate in which fruits will be extensively naturalized. There is a race of high-minded gentlemen and. scholars here whom we should be glad to see members of our parish, and pursuing fruit and flower culture as well as agriculture and politics. Cicero, bent on political life, is yet full of longings for his country house at Tusculam; Horace, the favorite of the court of Augustus, and with a keen relish for court pleasures, yet loves the sights and sounds of his beloved Arno's banks.
North Carolina has an interesting, romantic history. In 1854, the first Europeans who ever touched the shores of any one of the old thirteen States, approached this coast under command of Amadas and Barlowe. In the report to Sir Walter Raleigh, drawn up by the latter, it is said that two days before they came in sight of the land, "We smelled so sweet and so strong a smell, as if we had been in the midst of some delicate garden, abounding with all kinds of odoriferous flowers." On reaching the land it was found "so full of grapes, as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them, of which we found such plenty, as well there as in all places else, both on the sand and on the green soil, on the hills as in the plains, as well on every little shrub, as also climbing the tops of high cedars, that I think in all the world the like abundance is not to be found; and myself having seen those parts of Europe that most abound, find such difference as were incredible to be written." Inside of the long narrow tract of islands, along which they coasted for two hundred miles, they found what " appeared another great sea," between them and the main land.
Everywhere they were struck with surprise, as they beheld the variety, the magnitude and beauty of the forest trees, which not only surpassed those of "Bohemia, Muscovia or Hcrcynia," but "bettering the cedars of the Azores, of the Indies, or Lybanus".
The following extracts from Mr. Clingman's address possess interest for our readers: "In the elevated parts there is almost every variety of landscape, soil, and production. At its extreme borders, there rises up a mountainous region, with a bolder scenery and a more bracing climate. Few of our own citizens realize the extent of this district, or are aware of the fact that it is three hundred miles in length, and has probably more than forty peaks that surpass in altitude Mount Washington, long regarded as the most elevated point in the Atlantic States. . .
The landscape is variegated, too, by tracts of thirty and even forty miles in extent, covered with dense forests of the balsam fir trees, appearing in the distance dark as " the plumage of the raven's wing," and green carpets of elastic moss, and countless vernal flowers, among which the numerous species of the azalia, the kaluiia, and the rhododendron, especially, contend in the variety, delicacy and brilliancy of their hues. From the sides of the mountains flow cold and limpid streams along broad and beautiful valleys. Though such a region as this can never weary the eye, its chief merit is, that almost every part of it is fitted to be occupied by, and to minister to the wants of man. . .
While the seaboard counties have trees peculiar to that region - like the cypress, juniper, live-oak, and the gigantic pines of the swamps, fit to become the "masts of great admirals " - and the mountains such varieties as are suited to a hardier climate, the State, as a whole, seems to contain representatives of almost all the trees of the North American forest, in their fullest and grandest development, and afford in the greatest profusion all manner of timber and beautiful woods for the uses of the artificer.
When we look beneath the surface of the earth, there are abundant objects of interest. North Carolina has the distinction of being the first of all the governments of the world that ordered a geological survey of its territory; and she has, in my opinion, a greater variety of mineral substances than any single State of the Union".
The grape is indigenous to all parts of the State, and it is believed North Carolina will become a great wine-producing region. Mr. Clingman has penned a scholarly and very attractive address, for the receipt of which we are much indebted to his own frank.
The New Patent Office Report is a valuable book, and may be read with profit by all. We may point to the essays on salt-making, on animals, on the Sorghum cane, fruits and wine, and textile and forage crops, succeeded by Professor Joseph Henry's on meteorology, as highly creditable.
Major L. Conte, of Philadelphia, contributes an article on American grape vines, in which he says that all our American grape vines require a different treatment from those of Europe; and agreeing with some of our late correspondents, he asserts that even the pruning of them in the most scientific manner does not appear to produce any good effect; but if left to their own growth, they are more productive than when they fall under the hands of the most skillful gardener. "I have never seen," he continues, " any vine, compara-tively speaking, produce such large crops of fruit as those which were never pruned and trained upon a stake, being conducted from one festoon to another, at such a distance as the length of the stem required. By this means the clusters of berries hang down from the branches, and have the full benefit of the sun and the air to bring them to the greatest perfection".
After speaking of the Isabella and Catawbas as sweet and agreeable) Major L. Conte says, "But the best of all the varieties is the white-fruited, which does not differ in the leaf from the first described, (the Fox grape,) but the racemes are large, long, and dense, the berries oval, white or green, with a slight coppery tinge on the side exposed to the sun. None of our American vines is so worthy of a careful cultivation as this." What grape does he allude to? Is it the Anna?
Professor Henry has a remark or two which we copy with approbation: - " Mere Practical Men, We have no sympathy with the cant of the day with reference to ' practical men,' if by this term is meant those who act without reference to well established general laws, and are merely guided by empirical rules or undigested experience. However rapidly and skillfully such a person may perform his task, and however useful he may be within the limited sphere of his experience, and in the practice of rules given by others, he is incapable of making true progress. His attempts at improvement are generally not only failures, involving a loss of time, of labor, and of materials, but such as could readily have been predicted by any one having the requisite amount of scientific information. It is the combination of theoretical knowledge with practical skill, which forms the most efficient and reliable character, and it should be the object of the agricultural colleges to produce educational results of this kind. * * *
"The great facts of the future of agriculture are to be derived from the use of the microscope, the crucible, the balance, the galvanic battery, the polariscope, and the prism, and from the scientific generalizations which are deduced from these by the profound reflections of men who think in contradistinction to those who act. The intelligent farmer should be able, as already said, properly to appreciate the value of scientific discoveries; and for this purpose his studies should not be confined merely to rules or empirical receipts, but also to the general principles on which they are or should be founded".