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.
The neighborhood of Boston stands very high as a horticultural region; probably more exotic grapes are grown there, within a circuit of ten or fifteen miles, than within the same distance around both New York and Philadelphia; we heard the weight estimated at forty tons some years, since, and great additions to the glass structures of the vicinity have latterly been made.
The interest in the products of the garden and greenhouse, manifested by the members of the Horticultural Society, and the citizens generally, is shown by their attendance on a weekly exhibition of fruits and flowers, which is well sustained, and very useful in extending a knowledge of what is passing, and in season, and in keeping up a generous rivalry. The weather, while we were there, was unpro-pitious for sight-seeing, but our horticultural party, somewhat reduced in numbers, took several opportunities of visiting the neighborhood, and accepting the kindest hospitality. To complete the list, however, it will be necessary to take another occasion, and a longer time, to describe so celebrated a region. At present, we can only give the results of a few brief notes hurriedly taken.
H. Hollis Hunnewell, Esq.'s country residence, near the station of the Worcester Railroad at West Needham, presents, for a new place, evidences of great enthusiasm and success in planting. The neighborhood is the scene of the labors of that eminent missionary among the Indians, Elliot, who was the printer of the extraordinary Indian Bible, which was his great labor of love for the aborigines. Its press-work, if we remember rightly, was done by a poor Indian boy, and the whole was executed under difficulties such as would appal a modern typographer. Those noble old elm-trees, which were planted by the natives in front of their minister's house, in Natick, near Mr. Hunnewell's, still stand as mementos of the gratitude of the converted red men. The trees in this vicinity are remarkably fine and numerous, and evidences exist in every direction of great progress and improvement.
Mr. Hunnewell has a large farm, and has devoted a considerable portion of it, most judiciously, to ornamental planting. Not having so great a variety of trees to select from as we have in the Middle States, he has brought together such as are hardy in Massachusetts with a liberality which promises to produce very great results. His noble mansion is situated on the banks of a very fine lake, which possesses the advantage of considerable depth, and being supplied with abundant water, is perfectly free from any unwholesome exhalations, is well stocked with fish, and efforts are making to introduce other varieties, by using spawn imported from France. This subject, we are glad to know, is employing the thoughts and purses of many Americans, and we anticipate the happiest results. Mr. H.'s dwelling stands high above the lake, to which a terraced garden, interspersed with fountains, and gay with luxuriant flower-beds, leads the visitor almost imperceptibly. Inclosing these beds we noticed an arrangement which was new to us - that of the use of large square iron castings for borders; these are cast thinly, with raised figures on the outer sides, and being light, can be moved from place to place as required; they give a neat look, occupy almost no space, and may be employed wherever box edging, which we prefer, will not flourish.
The fountains, as well as water for the whole place, are supplied by a steam engine of three horse power, which will pump 30,000 gallons a day, and grind at the same time. This engine cost $500; with the mill, $700; but at the present moment, so much has this useful machine been simplified, an engine on wheels, of the same power, can be purchased for perhaps half the money. It is a most desirable acquisition to a country place.
We have already recorded Mr. Hunnewell's eminent success with the Stanwick nectarine; his graperies, peach-house, greenhouse, and gardens, are. entitled to high commendation; Mr. Harris, his gardener, is a most intelligent cultivator; he reads and studies his subject, and we could not but remark the greater intelligence everywhere between the reading and the unlettered controllers of gardens; all the difference, in short, between knowledge and stupidity; ten words uttered betrays the difference. Mr. H.'s grapes were equal to any we have ever seen, both in weight, color, and flavor.
Mr. Hunnewell showed us several successful attempts in trimming into shape a tree, which would have been one of the last we should have thought of attempting. The White pine, taken young, bears shearing in a most wonderful manner; it has been made to assume various fantastic as well as ornamental shapes, such as no one, who had not seen or heard of it, could have anticipated. If this can be effected with so loose and open a tree, what may we not expect might be accomplished with the Bhotan or Pinus excelsa, with its closer habits, and more numerous branches and leaves. Altogether Mr. Hunnewell's residence promises to become, as it already partially is, one of the most attractive " around Boston".
It is a great treat to the Horticulturist to pass a day at Dorchester with Marshall P. Wilder, the efficient President of the Pomological and Agricultural Societies. His premises do not comprise more than twenty or twenty-five acres, but they exhibit an industry and results of high culture, in a climate of some more difficulty that our own, that might prove a useful example. His collection of Pear and other fruit-trees is world-renowned, and justly so; among the new, from which good is expected, we pencilled the names of Buerre de Wael, Conseiller de la Cour, Triomphe de Pomologie, Emile d'Heyst, Pius IX., Beurre Wet-teren, Henri Bivort, Poire de Nonnes, and Dorothea Royale Nouvelle; as these are new and just fruiting, we are promised descriptions when the time of the Colonel, so fully occupied, permits. Mr. Wilder has given his views oft the subject of pear culture, dwarf and standard, in his address at Rochester, and published in the November Horticulturist, so that we need not enter upon it now; he has pears on dwarfs of twenty-five years' standing in full health and bearing, as he says, to answer any doubts on that subject.
Mr. Wilder cultivates, as the best Raspberries, Orange, Cushing, and Knevet's Giant; Strawberries, Burr's New Pine, which is fully as early as Jenny Lind, and "best;" the Monroe Scarlet, as promising well, and nearly as early. He considers Jenny's Seedling one of the most desirable varieties, coming in rather late. Of Currants, we found here the following new sorts: La Fertile, Hartif de Bertin, Versailles, Precoce de Tours, Caucase, Goundin White, and Cerise Rouge.
In the address we have already alluded to, will be found Mr. Wilder's views on fruit-rooms, and we have only in conclusion to remark on his fine collection of Camellias; the specialities of his greenhouses are Wilderii, Mrs. Abbe Wilder, Maria Louisa, Grace Sherwin, Glory, etc. etc.
The late Mr. Becar, of New York, a friend of Colonel Wilder, has left a new and splendid Camellia, to be dedicated to the memory of the late Mr. Downing, in which all lovers of horticulture will take a warm interest. Mr. W. agreed with us in thinking it might be well to employ the proceeds of this elegant plant in founding some experimental garden, or in a gold medal for extraordinary merit. We should be glad to know what were Mr. Becar's views on the subject.
Kernwood, the residence of Mr. Peabody, near Salem, is quite remarkable, from the good taste shown in the arrangement of the grounds, the planting, and the pretty English pastoral character of the views, as well as from the interior decorations and embellishments of the house, most of which, we understand, were by Mr. Peabody's own hands, and many of the cabinets, mantlepieces, Ac, being either actually carted by him, or designed and executed under his immediate supervision, with a degree of excellence little inferior to the best German artists.
Linmere, the residence of R. S. Fay, Esq. We well recollect, some years since, Mr. Hovey's interesting description of the trees which Mr. Pay (then in England) sent out, and many of which now must doubtless be fine specimens. If we remember right, Linmere resembles somewhat, in its general characteristics, Mr. Hunnewell's place at Natick, only much larger, there being 600 acres or more in the estate, mostly surrounding a lake; as yet Mr. Fay has not commenced his improvements in building, having principally devoted himself to planting large tracts of land and the various hillsides with larches, Scotch firs, etc, of which many thousands have, we learn, been set out. If Mr. Fay builds a house and carries out all his improvements, Linmere will resemble more entirely a large Scotch estate than perhaps any place in this country, the natural character, of the lake and hills resembling portions of Scotch scenery, which will be still more the case when the Scotch firs and larches become more effective.
The residences of the late Col. Perkins, Gen. Lyman (how, we believe, in possession of his son, and celebrated for its beautiful avenue, one of the finest in the country), Mr. John E, Thayer's, with a very remarkably fine house, built by Upjohn, James S. Amory's, Mr. J. L. Gardener's; should be enumerated, as well as Mr. Lee's, whose lawn Mr. Downing celebrated so many years since; "Pine Bank," the beauties of which a late number of Hovey's Magazine so well and ably describes, Ignatius Sargent's, celebrated for its grapes almost fabulous in size and weight, "Belmont" (Mr. Cushing's), which all admirers of horticultural success know so well. All these, and many more we had no time to see, or did see so imperfectly, that, we shall postpone all description of them until we can do them better justice. We cannot, however, omit saying, that for general excellence of cultivation, for universal good keeping, and the most distinguished success in all they undertake, the residents of the environs of Boston still continue to bear away the palm, as they have done for a quarter of a century.
We paid a short visit to the Botanical Garden at Cambridge, which is under the control and excellent management of the eminent botanist, Dr. Asa Gray, and were extremely gratified with the order and neatness, no less than with the great variety of plants and trees here assembled. These would be much more numerous but for the impediment of climate, and yet, with this disadvantage, the student will find here much that is new and interesting.
We found Dr. Gray busily engaged in preparing a work on American trees for the Smithsonian Institute - a book not yet announced, and one which, from the difficulties of procuring correct engravings, and the accuracy which characterizes all that Dr. Gray does, will, we presume, be a long time in execution.