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.
If the question was put to us - what, within the last seven years has contributed the most to the promotion of first-class cultivation among gardeners? - we could have no hesitation in answering, the public exhibitions of plants; for, though there may be many who may profess not to have been so influenced, there can be no question that the first great cause of improvements has been the noble examples of skill periodically brought together under the auspices of these Societies; which examples, being to a very great extent particularly described, and sometimes pictorially represented by means of engravings, have, through the medium of the horticultural press, been sent through the length and breadth of the land. - thus penetrating and eradicating prejudices in the craniums of some of our would-be wise countrymen, which could not have been eradicated by other means. Again the employers of gardeners have witnessed what could be accomplished by proper management; and hence, where the means were allowed, the gardener had nothing but his own want of skill to blame, if he did not accomplish that which others had done before him.
Apart, however, from the influence of these fetes upon cultivation, there can be no doubt they have effected much good in guiding the artist, and in improving and correcting the taste of the middle and higher classes of society, and of this we need no stronger proof than the fact that manufacturers look to nature and not to art, for patterns to beautify the varied productions of the silk loom, &c; while artists in wax and artificial flowers imitate nature 50 closely, as to render it difficult, in some specimens which we have recently seen, to tell whether they were real or not.
Our object, however, in this paper, is not so much to point out the benefits accruing from these exhibitions, as to call the attention or the managers of the exhibitions themselves, to the necessity of infusing a little more artistic effect into the arrangements of the exhibition tents, for we feel convinced there is yet much room for improvement. The best exemplifcation of artistic arrangement was seen at the exhibitions of American plants in the Regent's Park Garden, where, by diversifying the surface of the ground, and grouping the plants with considerable taste, a very effective tout ensemble was produced.
Seeing, then, that improvements arc to be made, and with the fact before us that this artistic arrangement of plants in plant-houses, is a matter of considerable interest among persons of taste at the present time, wo venture to recommend two stands for the exhibition of Orchids, from the design of H. Noel Hemphreys, Esq.; and we venture further to assert that if these stands were as tastefully filled, as the designs are appropriate, a very pleasing and highly gratifying result would be achieved. The larger stand is supposed to be executed in rustic work, stands four feet in height, to the first tier of plants, and is proportionately large in circumference. The second stand is nearly of the same the tent, thus forming a group with a center, and two sides - we are quite sure would be much admired, and would impart an entirely new feature to our exhibitions. Grouped artistically with mixed plants, some remarkable for their flowers, others for their noble foliage, and a third section, as the Ferns, for their graceful habit, a very striking effect might be produced; and, introduced upon the same principle into a conservatory or ball-room, we cannot see that they would be out of place.
To keep up the interest of an exhibition tent, it is necessary that the plants should not all be seen on first entering the tent, for though the first effect may be very pleasing, the eye gets restless, and seeks a change long before one can be met with; but if plants of an opposite and striking character were introduced in these or similar stands, we are quite sure the appearance of the tents would be greatly improved, and visitors would not fail to appreciate the improvement.