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.
IT is not an uncommon thing to hear people say after attending a horticultural exhibition, and luxuriating their eyes upon the display of exquisite fruits, " Oh yes! it is all very well for a few rich people and amateurs, who can afford to keep expensive places and gardeners, but why is it we never see these things in market V9 The question would appear to be a reasonable one; will the questioners be contented at present with a reasonable answer?
The progress of all great improvements is slow; it has taken some ten years to introduce successfully that obviously economical instrument, the mowing machine. The captains of the Thames and other English steamboats keep a boy always on duty to hollow "stop her," "go ahead," etc., and they contend that a bell "would not answer;" so that we see even where it is of the strongest pecuniary interest, slowness marks the progress of a good thing. In the case of luxuries this onward movement is necessarily more tardy.
The improvement in fruits, however, it can be seen, is progressing with great rapidity; "the first day" in the creation of new races, and the taste to appreciate better supplies is just passing over our country, or perhaps we might say, is past. Its evening shadows have been marked in our principal cities by a few good fruits, such as very superior Pears being seen for sale, especially in Boston, perhaps at a high price, but still they were there; improved Apples almost everywhere; and the opening of a second day is about to commence. Very superior Strawberries are noticed by our correspondents from all parts of the Union, and what are they but the results of Hovey's, and Burr's, and McAvoy's talent and industry ? Does any one suppose for a moment, that the introduction of fine fruits of all kinds is to be limited to the exhibition tables of societies; or that when a sensible man has eaten of the new Pears, such as the Bartlet, the Duchesse D'Angouleme, or the Howell, that he will plant the Catherine, or the poor old varieties ? In the meantime, you and I, gentle reader, who may have, more providently than our neighbors, got a little stock of trees just coming into bearing, admire them too much, and take too much pleasure in giving a little basket of the produce to our friends; - in short, we yet have too few to ba able to part with them; but we can recollect with satisfaction that this year, and for several past seasons, inquisitive neighbors, who were going on in the old routine, spied over the fence our superior show of Governor Wood and La Reine Hortense Cherries, and were humble enough to ask for grafts, which are now growing and will soon bear fruit for the market.
Master Slowgoer stole an "Evening Party" Apple last fall, and his father was so pleased with its saleable » look, that he sent Joe for cuttings to graft on his old stocks. We feel sure the "Evening Party" will ere many years be in the Philadelphia market.
Has our questioner this year seen the new Currants, hanging "thicker" than ropes of onions, and twice the size of the old sorts - they are in the market; and so are better Raspberries - Dr. Brinckld's "Orange" has been extensively cultivated, as well as many other fruits for which we are indebted to his science; Blackberries are coming there too very soon, along with Pears that will gratify your taste as much as the exhibition tables delighted your eyes. Col. Wilder is preparing a feast for you, but you must have a little patience, and let those who have done this great work partake themselves, with their friends, of the first fruits of their labor. How long was your father alive before he saw, much less tasted, a Black Hamburgh Grape? The great conservatories of his time were perfectly content if they ripened a washing tub full of Lemons, or a few miserable Oranges in a year. Astonishment was at its height in Philadelphia, when it was whispered that Mr. Pratt's gardener picked two washing tubs full of Lemons, to make that atrocious mixture called lemonade, for a party.
A similar space occupied by those Lemon trees is now made to produce five hundred pounds and more of the finest descriptions of luscious Grapes for the benefit of the world, and at no greater cost Every one who has attended an exhibition may be comforted with the assurance, that in all these matters the day is about to dawn when fine fruits will be accessible to the many. It takes no more space to grow a good Cherry tree than a bad one, but a countryman is not likely to cut down his old Blackheart, which has regularly yielded him a few dollars, and plenty for his family, till the new varieties have come to maturity; thus the old Cherry will continue in the market for some time. Perhaps, too, the new will be so much esteemed at home by the youngsters about, that some years must elapse after bearing commences before the Louise Bonne de Jersey Pear travels to the Market street stalls. But take courage from facts already developed, and hope for better things.
Gratitude is eminently due to those enthusiasts who are working in private, like "the Happy Pomologist" of our July number, to improve the races of fruits. It is a work of both time and labor to fertilise the flower, plant the seed, and await the result, but this is the process by which what has already been done has been accomplished. The next task is the acclimating the new kinds by scientific reproduction, and giving to our fruits American constitutions; the foreign Grapes are now undergoing experiments to fit them to our climate, and we entertain no doubt of a successful result. It is the aim of the intelligent workers in this field to make good fruits as common as inferior sorts. That they will succeed everywhere, and in every garden, in the life time of this and the next generation, is not to be expected. But that wonders have been accomplished, and are in the course of accomplishment, in fruits, flowers and vegetables, no one who remembers our markets thirty years ago can for a moment doubt.
It is one of the missions of this particular period, to discover what vegetable productions are adapted to the various climates of the Union; when this has been even partially successful, every portion of our country will yield its fruits in its season, and the luxuries of the garden, now confined to the industrious and discriminating few, will penetrate to every community. Our sun is better adapted to the ripening of fruit than that of any large portion of Europe; with the same skill in cultivation we ought therefore to have better articles; we have them already, and the means for their vast increase are now maturing. In many sections the advance is extremely rapid; nothing can stop it. We are "A people marching with a giant's stride, To giant empire - in a region, born Of grandeur worthy of the free and brave, Whose lowliest peasant holds in equal scorn, • The throned despot and his groveling slave".
This journal, commenced so lately as July, 1846, has chronicled the formation, if we mistake not, of all or nearly all the Horticultural Societies west of the mountains; now they are very numerous, and each is exerting an influence which is incalculable. In a philosophical point of view they serve to attach our restless population to home. "In horticulture lies the most powerful philtre that civilized man has yet found to attach him to one spot of earth. It transforms what was only a tame meadow and a bleak aspect into an Eden of interest and delights. It makes all the difference between 'Araby the blest' and a pine-barren. It gives a bit of soil too insignificant to find a place in the geography of the earth's surface, such an importance in the eyes of its possessor, that he finds it more attractive than countless acres of unknown and unexplored 'territory.' Whoever lives to see the next cycle of our race, will see the great vallies of the west the gardens of the world, and we watch with interest the first development, in the midst of the busy fermentation of its active masses, of that beautiful and quiet spirit, of the joint culture of the earth and the heart that is destined to give a tone to the future character of its untold millions." It is not a little remarkable, that just in proportion to the intelligence and settled character of a population, is the amount of interest there manifested in horticultural pursuits.
There is one matter connected with this subject respecting which we desire to say a few words. One reason why the varieties of the best and most tempting fruits are not seen in the markets, may result from the circumstance that the more independent and successful cultivators of them possess no suitable mode of making sales. It would be easy to point out several private gardens where more of some kinds of fruit are produced than the family consumes, or cares to give away. It may be Grapes, or Cherries, or Pears, that are in superabundance, but these parties have neither time nor inclination to seek a market, and their fruits are suffered to decay.
In every large community there is a cry of want of occupation by numbers who will not help themselves; it would not be difficult to show that full remunerative occupation could be found for many hands, if they would ascertain in the early part of the season where a superfluity of fine fruits could be purchased in the walks of private life, and at the proper time go and take them to houses, stores, or stands, where they could be seen and purchased. The wealthiest men in Europe regularly dispose of their superfluities, whether Pine Apples, Grapes, or other desirable fruits; this is not done here to any extent, because of the trouble of seeking a market, whereas the market should seek them. Intelligent men and women may find profitable employment in this business around every principal city and village; they will have to do so, not only for purposes of their own but to be useful; the bee visits every flower, picking up a little here and a little there to add to his store; let human industry imitate the bee, and carry its collected store where it will be appreciated.
Our word for it, there is much to be had in this way, and there is a sure and profitable market somewhere for it all.