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.
We have been requested to publish the following article, written for the Genesee Farmer and we cheerfully comply, as it is a matter of importance both to sellers and purchasers of trees:
"There is one point about nursery trees, that gives rise occasionally to considerable discussion between the buyers and sellers, and it has occurred to us that it might be well to offer a few remarks on it at this time. We allude to the dissatisfaction and disappointment that purchasers experience on receiving from the nursery trees of a somewhat crooked or irregular growth, or of smaller size than they had expected. We are very well aware that it is not a little aggravating to receive trees of four feet in height, instead of six or eight as expected; or to get them with stems curved and twisted in half a dozen different ways, instead of being as straight as a gun barrel. To the amateur who intends* to make but a small plantation, and desires every tree to be a model, this is particularly provoking; and in his trouble, unless he be as patient as Job, he reproaches the poor nurseryman most severely. Now we are not about to plead the cause of the nurserymen; they must take care of themselves. They are, we know very well, often much to blame, and deserve reproach; but they are not unfrequently censured without good reason; and if those who purchase trees would study beforehand the characters of the varieties selected, as to growth, they would not so often be disappointed.
"Now we will suppose, for instance, that Mr A. orders from his nurseryman a dozen apple trees, as follows: Early Joe, Summer Rose, American Summer Pearmain, Fall Pippin Gravenstein, Porter, Baldwin, Fameuse, Northern Spy, Newtown Pippin, Melon, and Red Canada; and that these are to be, we will say, three years old from the bud or graft. We would find that the Graven-stein, Baldwin, Fall Pippin, Fameuse, and Northern Spy, which are strong, rapid growers, are large, thrifty, beautiful trees; while the others, which are remarkably slow growers, are not more than half as large, and will be pronounced small, serubby, stunted things, not fit to be Been, much less planted A Baldwin, Gravenstein, or Northern Spy will be larger in the same soil and under the same culture, in three years than a Red Canada or a Newtown Pippin in five: and at any size, their stout shoots, straight trunk, and smooth clean bark, are pleasing to the eye; while the slender, twiggy, rough-barked trees, are just the reverse. These considerations should be taken into account The nurseryman is paid no more for the slow growers than he is for the rapid growers, and it is not reasonable to expect them so large or looking so vigorous.
Then there are varieties, such as the R. I. Greening and Fall Pippin, of irregular growth, with very seldom a straight stem, that it is quite unreasonable to expect as symmetrical as a Baldwin or a Northern Spy.
"If we turn to pears, we find these remarks equally applicable. If Mr. A. will order from his nurseryman the Bartlett, Seckel, Buffam, Duchess d'Angouleme, Marie Louise, and Winter Nelis, he will find a marked and perhaps to him a very disagreeable contrast in their size and form. The Buffam and Duchess may be eight feet high, thrifty, and smooth as young willows; the Bartlett not over five feet, and the Seckel four; while the Marie Louise and Winter Nelis will not only be small, but twisted into the most fantastic and untree-like shapes. Looking at the Buffam and the Duchess, he will at once say, 'Now these are what I call trees - just what I wanted; but these,' turning to poor Marie Louise and Winter Nelis, 'these are horrible.' The nurseryman, who perhaps searched up and down every row in his nursery to get the straightest and best ones to please Mr. A., who is very nice, is sure to get not less than two pages of a scold; and not only that, he must lose a part of his bill and ever after the trade of one whom he hoped would be a good customer.
"Turn again to cherries, and we find the same sources of disappointment. Mr. A. wants half a dozen cherry trees - tall, handsome, well-shaped trees, of uniform size and shape, as he intends them for ornament as well as fruit Well, he orders Black Tartarian, Yellow Spanish, Napoleon Bigarreau, May Duke, Belle de Choisy, and Belle Magnifique - all first rate cherries; but unfortunately, when they are received, the Belle de Choisy and Magnifique are mere dwarfs beside the majestic Black Tartarians and Napoleon. He then regrets he ordered them, and blames the nurseryman for not knowing better than to send them.
"So with plums. No one need expect to get Green Gage* and Jeffersons of uniform size with Imperial Gages, Smith's Orleans, or Magnum Bonums, If they do, they will generally be disappointed. •
"Those who regard the size and shape of their trees of the first importance, must not be very tenacions about varieties; and, on the contrary, those who place quality first, must be less difficult to please as to size and form. The reasons are obvious. There are certain requisites, however, which purchasers have a right to demand from the nurseryman under all circumstances. These are - 1st, That trees be sound and thrifty, stout in proportion to their height, and supplied with an abundance of healthy unmutilated roots. 2d, That the varieties be genuine. 3d, That they be packed and prepared for transportation with the greatest possible care and skill. The purchaser who fixes his mind on mere sue, forgetful of these, stands in his own light, and will, if he lives long enough, find out his mistake.
"Would it not be well for nurserymen to indicate, or arrange in separate classes, slow growers and those of a very irregular or crooked growth!
"We throw out these hints for the purpose of drawing attention to a matter that, as long as we can remember, has been productive of disappointment and no little unpleasant feeling that might Just as well have been avoided".