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.
Among the most beautiful of Apples are a few varieties which it is said are of Russian origin.
These are the Red Astrachan, Duchess of Oldenburg, Borovitsky, Alexander or Emperor Alexander, and Tetofsky, all summer apples.
None of these can be classed as first rate table apples, but their great beauty, vigorous habit and early and great productiveness, render them well worthy of attention.
The Red Astrachan is by for the most popular of them all, and the most widely disseminated, indeed we believe it stands next to the Early Harvest. It has proved successful through all the Northern, Middle, and Western States. The tree is sound and vigorous, with stout dark shoots, and broad dark green foliage; no apple tree can be more ornamental. It succeeds particularly well on the Paradise stock, making a large, luxuriant and prolific bush. We have seen specimens this season grown on dwarf trees twelve inches in circumference - and all covered with the richest crimson without a single spot or defect of any kind whatever.
It is almost too acid, yet many people relish its sprightliness, and in the market it carries all before it, commanding twice as much as any other variety of its season.
We add Mr. Downing's excellent description: -
A fruit of extraordinary beauty, first imported into England with the White Astrachan, from Sweden, in 1816. It bears abundantly, and its singular richness of colour is heightened by an exquisite bloom on the surface of the fruit, like that of a plum. It is one of the handsomest dessert fruits, and its quality is good, but if not taken from the tree as soon as ripe, it is liable to become mealy. Ripens from the last of July to the middle of August.
Fruit pretty large, rather above the middle size, and very smooth and fair, roundish, a little narrowed towards the eye. Skin almost entirely covered with deep crimson, with sometimes a little greenish yellow in the shade, and occasionally a little russet near the stalk, and covered with a pale white bloom. Stalk rather short and deeply inserted. Calyx let in a slight basis, which is sometimes a little irregular. Flesh quite white, crisp, moderately juicy, with an agreeable, rich acid flavour.
The Wisconsin Horticultural Society has for years recommended the Red Astrachan for general culture. It has also been highly recommended by the American Po-mologioal Society. From these facts we might reasonably infer that it is a desirable variety, and one that everybody should plant.
Such, however, does not appear to be the fact. There are hundreds of the trees in this section, but we verily believe that there was not a bushel of them grown in this country last year. The trouble seems to be that they do not bear. Duchess of Oldenburg will bear five times the fruit. It is true the trees are handsome and hardy. What we want, however, is fruit, and we have never known the Bed Astrachan to bear heavily. Some claim it to bear well. If it does, it must be on good sites, where other sorts do still better. From the length of time it has been bofore the public, it certainly ought to show itself in the markets and in every orchard. Does it do so?
A. L. Hatch.