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.
As I not unfrequently meet with articles in the Horticulturist, concerning which I have a word or two to say, I propose to myself a sort of "conglomerate" paper, upon several subjects noticed in the present volume. If I am mistaken in presuming that it may prove readable, I rely upon my kind friend the editor, to give me an intimation to that effect. I have first to notice an article "On Mulching," (page 34,) in which Mr. Saunders replies to the remarks upon that subject, by several gentlemen, at the last meeting of the American Pomological Society. He so well expresses my own opinions, that I have only to remark the surprise that I felt, that the gentlemen in question should have taken such an extraordinary position, and decry mulching as injurious, in the face of both theory and practice, and to observe that even they admit its usefulness, while contending against it.
According to the report, Mr. Hovev. was of opinion that it might be practical "without much injury" on "a high soil" readily parting with its moisture. Mr. Barry considered it "very judicious" when applied to newly planted trees. Mr. Berckmans was in the habit of throwing "small weeds" about his trees, "just enough to keep the ground shaded, not more;" (what "more" is needed?) and Mr.Walker,while inclining to the opinion that " the best pear-trees in the country" are in grass ground, (which I doubt,) confessed that his own trees received a mulch of green grass " some four or six inches thick," which I should denominate a pretty substantial mulch. These admissions, which are intermingled with the arguments of the gentlemen who chiefly opposed the practice, would seem to prove that they are not very firmly grounded in their disbelief of its efficacy.
In my own practice, I have mulched with tan-bark, manure, grass, and other materials, to a considerable extent, and am firmly persuaded, not only • that the lives of many trees have in this way been preserved, but that the health and vigor of all young trees are greatly promoted by means of it, unless in situations of more than ordinary moisture.
"Grape vines," etc., (47.) "The vine ranks among those plants which are very dependent upon external influences." "It is not, therefore, strange that the grapes which grow upon the sunny side of the Johannisberg, should be very superior to those produced upon the opposite side." I can state a case in point, much nearer home.
In the autumn of 1850, I made one of a party of gentlemen, having strong-horticultural proclivities, who attended the meeting of the American Pomo-logical Society, in Cincinnati, and passed a week very pleasantly in exploring the gardens and vineyards of that hospitable city. One of the first things to be done was, to go to market before breakfast and eat Catawba grapes, riper and better than we ever produced at home. Afterwards we found much finer ones in the vineyards of our newly made friends, and discovered that other, things being equal, the degree of excellence was very nicely graduated to the exposure. This we tested by actual experiment in Mr. Long-worth's vineyard, the "Garden of Eden." His tenant, the since famous Schneike, was supplying us with grapes and information at once, when one of our party, wishing to ascertain the maximum point of excellence, opened a negotiation, with a view to the possession of "the best bunch in the vineyard." The sagacious old vine-dresser led us from terrace to terrace around the mountain, and paused at the southernmost point in the full blaze of the sun, and high above the city.
Here he cut "the best bunch," and a glorious one it was, exceeding in size of bunch and berry and height of flavor, anything in the semblance of a Catawba that I ever saw, before or since. We had not before tasted the Catawba in its highest excellence, nor do I expect to do so again anywhere this side of Mount Adams.
With your permission, Mr. Editor, I will continue my remarks upon articles in the last volume, (14th) Page 443, "Fruit-trees in ornamental plantations." That some fruit-bearing trees may be rendered very ornamental as well as useful objects, is not to be questioned, and I might mention varieties which are really more beautiful in form and foliage than many of the so-called "ornamental trees;" still I do not quite like the idea of planting them for ornament, except in grounds of very limited extent, preferring that each class be assigned to its appropriate place, either on the lawn or in the orchard.
In small premises it is an object, of course, to have a tree fulfil both purposes; and not only that, but a fruit-tree planted near a building may be sometimes advanced or retarded (according to the exposnre) in its time of ripening its fruit. For example, a cherry-tree near my own window is so situated, that a part of its top directly faces, and, indeed, some branches lie against a high and steep roof, with a south-western exposure. In consequence, the fruit upon those branches is not unfrequently ripe by the 21st to 25th of June, while on other trees (and, indeed, the lower branches of the same tree) the same variety - White Bigarreau - is not often ripe much before the 1st of July.
I think Mr. Saunders in error in proposing to plant apple-trees nearer together than is the usual practice. He thinks that forty feet is an unnecessarily long interval - I do not; pears, I admit, may be planted at twenty or twenty-five feet, and do well for many years; but 1 have had some experience with a small apple-orchard, closely planted, and find that the lower branches, which will soon interlace at much less than forty feet, are constantly dying out, and on those which remain the fruit is small and inferior.
Sometimes we find the lawn and the orchard reversed, as is the case with those of a neighbor of mine; a gentleman of more wealth than taste, but who has a fine grapery and a beautiful lawn. In that part of the latter directly contiguous to the front entrance, he has several cherry-trees, intermixed with ornamental trees of various kinds, while in a lot at the rear of his house, he some years since made a plantation of maples, disposed in parallel lines, at accurate intervals, in the same way that he would have planted an apple-orchard.
As you intimate, Mr. Editor, that you are not yet tired of my discursive remarks, I continue them upon the present volume.
The assertion quoted by Mr. Bement, (p. 24,) that "birds never disturb sound cherries," I decidedly disbelieve in. I have had considerable experience, of a rather irritating nature, with the cedar or cherry bird, which is the only one which causes us much annoyance here, and am perfectly satisfied that he, at least, seeks for cherries, not worms. I have frequently found specimens, otherwise quite sound, depredated upon to a greater or less extent; and when, as is not by any means uncommon, the entire crop of a tree is appropriated by these little robbers, it is hardly to be supposed that a portion at feast is not free from worms. I look upon a cherry bird and a burglar with just about an equal amount of consideration, and would as willingly shoot one as the other. [The cat-bird is equally open to this censure. - Ed].