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.
"Fox-Meadow" gives some practical hints in the present number, regarding Orchard Houses; one of his remarks applies particularly to planting out in the border. Now this may answer very well, but the best examples of fruit-bearing small trees have been in pots, (boxes will answer) and these pots are brought out and plunged in the ground when the fruit is perfectly established. The corculio has then no chance with them. We have lately seen perfect success with this mode, and peaches of almost unheard-of excellence; Stanwick nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, and figs, in the utmost perfection, were a regular dish, to say nothing of the finest grapes. The operation is more simple and of more easy accomplishment than most persons would imagine. In one case, observed so lately as the first of August, a beginning was made with peaches and nectarines in pots, the trees poor stunted affairs, and not prepared for their new quarters by previous training, and yet the result was a superb crop; so that with even common care we are to have the finest fruits both for the amateur and the market or shop. And here it must be remembered that a small family does not want a bushel a day; a variety and excellence is the desideratum.
A few High-bush or Lawtonblackberries, and the same of Catawissa raspberries, and so forth, give a sufficient taste; no private family would want a market basket full every day of even the finest peaches or nectarines, but a few and those of superior excellence every one desires, and every one who will take the trouble may now have them.
I quite agree with your correspondent "J. D.," in reference to his remarks as to orchard houses, which, as he says, are still in their infancy in the north. I have erected a small one some 21 feet long by 8 feet wide, and whatever others may say as to the system recommended by Mr. Rivers, I must confess that I am perfectly satisfied with the results of my small experiment. I see and hear on all sides, that everything is spoiled by the severe frosts within the last four or five weeks, and I am quite aware that all fruit in the open air is destroyed in my neighborhood; but in my little orchard house I have the pleasure of looking at Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Pears, Cherries, Plums, Figs and Grapes, in perfect health and vigor, the fruit setting beautifully, and in no case touched by frost, though almost everything outside in the same garden is destroyed. I am of opinion that the system of orchard house cultivation, introduced by Mr. Rivers, deserves the notice of every man who wishes to have a secure crop of fruit, especially if, like me, he is situated in a northern country where he may expect such frosts as have fallen to our lot within the last month.
I may mention that my orchard house, the length and breadth of which I have given, is 7 feet high, and that it cost something under 15/. A Constant Reader, R., Roxburghshire, N. B. - Gardener's Chronicle..
The thanks of the entire north are due to Mr. Rivers, for the system which he has introduced, and to you, Mr. Editor, for reprinting the work in which it is embodied. I have much faith in orchard houses, and hope that I may some day possess one of them. In the meantime I shall have the benefit of my friends' experience, for I hear of two or three soon to be erected here, as is the case with other portions of bur State. We obtain peaches only by importation from more genial localities, the winds from the lake in early spriug not only depriving us of the fruit, but even after a time affecting the health of the trees, and except in sheltered city gardens it is scarcely cultivated. We need the orchard house for its culture, and in my opinion no long period will elapse before it will have become one of our institutions.
But a few miles distant the peach grows and ripens finely, except where the mercury drops too far below zero, and in point of economy, imported fruit at $1.50 per basket would doubtless be cheaper than that grown at home under glass. Still in seasons of scarcity, or before the market is supplied from abroad, the latter might, I think, be sold at a profit. Peaches have sold this season at from $2.00 to $3.50 per basket. They would scarcely cost that, I imagine, under glass, and aside from the certainty of a crop, which would be almost invariable, there is the not-to-be-estimated value that a perfectly ripe and freshly gathered peach possesses over one plucked in a half ripe state, and transported an indefinite number of miles by rail. Brought by steamer from Cleveland or Erie, as a large part of ours are, they are of course in better condition.
The protection of smooth-skinned fruits from the curculio, might be rendered nearly perfect in one of these structures, and to the many who have plum-trees but no plums, such an arrangement would be extremely satisfactory, and conduce much to a more amiable frame of mind, than some gentlemen are apt to experience during the plum season.
THE accounts from abroad are as yet almost the only ones we can draw upon for information regarding the success attending the cultivation of dwarf fruit trees under glass. But one opinion of their value seems to be expressed; as an evidence of this, the following, from a late Gar-dener's Chronicle of September, will he perused with interest.
During the summer of 1847 my employer erected one of these useful appendages to a garden, of the following dimensions, viz., back wall, 12 feet; front, 3 feet 4 inches; width, 8 feet 6 inches; length, 280 feet (in the clear). The ventilation and arrangement of the trees differ from most other houses of the kind. The result, however, has proved most satisfactory. We have a passage in the centre and front and back doors which divides the house into two parts. In each half both in front and back walls are ventilators, which being connected by means of small iron rods run on iron rails enables one to stand at the doors, and in less than five minutes to ventilate the whole building. The walk or footpath is 27 inches wide, and consists of 9-inch tile resting on Oak bearers, which in bad weather affords a comfortable path. Trees are trained on the back wall; but those in front are placed at right angles to the wall, thus allowing the sun to shine on both sides of them, and also on the back wall from top to bottom, and nearly the whole floor.
These constitute the main features of the house; and I may add that the fruit is of the best description, both as regards size and quality. - Samuel Bray, Court Cot Gardens, Stoodleigh, near Tiverton, Devon.
Mr. U. Cousins, writing from Biloxi, Miss., says that he is building an orchard house,"which is a great novelty to those who have seen it;'* and adds, that he " expects to astonish the folks next summer." We hope he may, and himself too, with the most gratifying results. We wish him abundant success, and thank him for the good things he says of the Horticulturist. We have no doubt that ten years hence orchard houses will be as common as graperies now are.