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.
Tour correspondent, "C. Legg, M. D.," has a note in your July number, in reference to Longworth's Prolific Strawberry, in which he hesitates whether or not "to accuse nurserymen of dishonesty and stupidity," because plants he bought for the above from the Clifton Nurseries, bore all pistillate flowers. I can lend him a circumstance to aid him in deciding. During the height of the " strawberry war," my friend, Mr. Longworth, offered to give me a handsome sum if I could convince him that a hermaphrodite variety could be made to produce pistil-late flowers, and suggested that I should take his " Prolific" for the experiment, as it was a kind he could readily distinguish by the foliage. I did so, and took-plants procured directly from his own garden, to insure their accuracy, and on which, by the by, our Fruit Committee founded their report to our Society, after an examination of these very plants as the veritable " Prolific." To avoid the possibility of mistakes, I potted the plants myself, and attended to them, daily, till they flowered, which many of them did, in pistillate form.
I sent specimens to Mr. Longworth at once - plant, flowers, and all - and received word, in reply, that a committee of the Society had pronounced it not to be the true Prolific. Since this, I have taken very little part in the " strawberry question," considering that my reputation for accuracy was in danger of being injuriously trifled with. Now that the heat of controversy has passed away, it is gratifying to me to find the views I was so bitterly assailed for maintaining so extensively, strengthening themselves. If your correspondent is desirous of understanding all the bearings of this subject, I would recommend to his perusal a paper on the " strawberry question," by Jas. W. Ward, Esq., inserted in the Transactions of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society for 1854, which, though written by the coadjutor of one of my most strenuous opponents, Dr. Warder, contains "my sentiments exactly".
In case your correspondent should not be able to obtain the perusal of this document entire, I beg permission to make a small extract for his information: -
" Now, these characters (stamens and pistils in the same flower) of Fragaria (the Strawberry) are normal and positive, though not constant; they are essential to the genus, not permanent in the individual. * * Various causes (unknown to science) are constantly occurring to produce imperfections and modifications in the Several parts of plants; striking variations from normal conditions are frequently, indeed, so often repeated, as to assume the appearance of permanent characters. * * Transformation, as well as the entire suppression of pistils, is also of frequent occurrence. Pistils (says Balfour) are sometimes changed to stamens, and bear pollen. * * Cultivators and other observers of variations from the normal condition in the Strawberry blossom, have described the plant itself as therefore dioecious. These descriptions convey a notion entirely at variance with all previous knowledge of the characters of the genus, and not only so, but really contrary to their own observations of the plant in its natural state. It is certain, beyond controversy, that the natural character of the perfect Strawberry blossom is hermaphrodite. Any departure from this original typical form must be regarded as casual degeneracies, and by no means as constant.
The more recent advocates of the theory, have claimed for it too much; that is, they have asserted that these abnormalities are fixed and permanent, natural and transmissible".
When the above was written, the author was evidently opposing some one whom he believed to deny the existence of such a thing as a Strawberry blossom with imperfect sexual characters. But as no such persons "came out" in the controversy, it is gratifying to find that, with the exception of Mr. Longworth and the "few who have claimed too much," both "Eastern cultivators" and " Cincinnati" are of the same mind after all.
The Lyman plate (value, fifty dollars), the previous year was awarded to Isaac Fay, for the Jenny Lind; but no distribution is made this year. The best shown, this season, has been Sir Charles Napier, by Messrs. Hovey.
The entire report is of interest, and we cannot close our condensed account of it (which embraces the leading facts) without again expressing our wish that the knowledge and enthusiasm of the Bostonians may rapidly spread.
Mr. Cabot, en retiring as President, received a present of plate of the value of one hundred and fifty dollars; and Eben Wight, Chairman of the Committee on Fruits, plate to the value of one hundred dollars. Josiah Stickney was elected President.
If you are troubled by birds, wide distances are dangerous, unless yon protect. Kill slugs in winter with lime or ducks. Do not water while the plant is in flower, but from the time the berry is formed till it reddens yon cannot pour on too much. Put clean wheat straw between the ranks, and water every third day, in sultry weather, copiously. Begin manuring directly after the crop is off and the runners taken. Preservation of life is better than the chance of a resurrection. Potash is a good manure. Use guano (sparingly), soot, coal ashes, wood ashes, liquid manure, cow and horse droppings. Stale night-soil is believed by many to be the best. New maiden earth is also good for a dressing. •
After the crop is off out off all the leaves and dress handsomely, stirring the soil about two inches deep between the ranks, and one inch near the plants. This brings a luxuriant crop of leaves, which protect the crown in winter, and throw off the wet. This will not do, unless you do it early, and are a "high manurer".
Now, if you will attend to these rules, you will get good and fine Strawberries. Remember, says a good gardener, the words - Manure, Pump, or Irrigate. - W.