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.
I regret you were unable to attend the spring exhibition of the above. I was expecting you would have a word to say about it, and therefore deferred this article.
I noted at the time what struck me in connection with the affair, and beg to offer the following remarks:
First of all, "Time" Punctuality upon the part of exhibitors was much in-sisted upon in the programme; this was justly relaxed on account of the weather, which also was probably the reason the judges did not attend at the specified time; but the room was not in a proper state to begin the reception until after the time appointed for closing it.
The secretary had too much upon his hands at the receiving and arranging. He should be assisted, by one or two of the active members, who should also arrange among themselves so that one of their number, distinguished by badge, be always upon the floor throughout the exhibition.
Artificial flowers I think inadmissible and objectionable; preserved natural ones, collections of Algae, Herbariums, Leaf cases, etc I should judge desirable additions.
Music I consider rather an unnecessary outside attraction; but if it is introduced, it should be in the afternoon as well as at night, so that the children, and those living outside, might have the benefit of it Gaslight is not the proper time to view flowers, and no extra inducement should be offered then.
The mode of arranging cut flowers I think open to improvement. It made me shiver to see the beautiful Pansies caged, in their naked loveliness, by an iron grating; there should be two or three leaves to each, and should be set by means of light spring-steel nippers, so that their velvet be not soiled with wet sand by clumsy fingers. A head of Cabbage is a pleasing sight to me in its proper place; but I do not think the Drumhead and Sugar-loaf forms so elegant, that they are the only worthy models for Nosegays; (beg pardon, Bouquets!) at any rate, to make a good imitation, there should be more greens.
Druggists' glass jars are not the most sightly flower holders: opaque vases would be better. Think loose flowers, with plenty of foliage, set in a basket or dish of sand, more natural and elegant than the present strait-jacket style; and any that fade can be easily removed.
A lady of my acquaintance thus gives vent to her feelings; don't know whether poetry is within rule:
Let Flowers be grouped in clusters few, So that not one is lost to view, And skillfully arranged to show Their beauty and their contrast too. The lily placed beside the Roses This is more fair, that will disclose A richer and a deeper hue. The crimson Salvia or the blue Beside the virgin Rose should bend, Or with the white Clematis blend. The gay Nasturtium is more bright With blue Verbenas or the white; And let the scarlet Cypress vine Amid fair Sweet Alyseum shine; The coral Honeysuckle glow Through cluster Roses pure as snow. Let Fuchsias droop o'er parian white i Ne'er choose a vase of color bright, Nor one o'erlaid with tinsel gold, For Nature does her gems unfold In emerald setting, and can ne'er Need aught to make them still more fair. Yet in the art of grouping these, How few excel or even please! Forgetting Nature's graceful ease.
They strip her flowers of leaf and stem, Which add so much to charm in them, And bind them stiffly, till they bear Scarce likeness to the gems they were; But mingled both in form and shade, A graceless pyramid is made, That soon, as well it may, will fade. Give me one Rose, some drooping grass, And place them loosely in a glass Of tall and slender shape; or yet Some sweet and modest Mignonnette, With one Moss Rose-bud in the green, That Nature gave it birth between, And Woodbine fair, that will perfume As well as they shall grace the room. Where oft those lovely clusters may E'en to a stranger's eye convey A type of her who placed them there, With so much grace and tender care.
Bright glazed green muslin I think not suitable for coverings and hangings to the tables; should choose a dull maroon - earth colored serge.
The list of awards should be printed on slips as soon as possible after they are made, and freely distributed. No full and correct one has been published, to my knowledge.
The room is, of course, a vast improvement upon former ones, but is yet too small; the people require space as well as the plants, and should have the privilege of lounging and looking in comfort, as long as they feel inclined.
The attention of gardeners should be called to the exhibitions two months beforehand, by advertisements in their publications; and as these unfortunately reach but a small portion of them, also in the daily papers, and by circular.
Each working member should resolve himself into a visiting committee of one, and between this time and that of exhibition, personally solicit every grower he knows. Members and others, I think, should be impressed that any single healthy blooming plant is a desirable addition to the exhibition, and worth sending. Few now contribute unless they have rare ones, or can muster the number necessary to compete for a prize. When the date of exhibition arrived, as you tell me the "Public" is inevitable, I should endeavor to catch as many stray quarters as possible, by a thorough system of advertising - by newspapers, posters, handbills, flags on city cars, etc.
[We no doubt lost something in not being able to attend the last exhibition; but we are glad to see that you have in a measure supplied our place. Your criticisms will be of use to the Brooklyn society, and to others also, being characterized as they are by candor and intelligence. Punctuality is a matter of the first importance on the part of all concerned in getting up an exhibition. The weather will sometimes interfere in the case of exhibitors, but seldom affects the judges. We have sometimes been kept waiting, at great inconvenience, for five or six hours. The judges, seeing that they can not go to work for hours, often leave the room, and sometimes do not return again. A man who travels fifty or a hundred miles at his own expense for your convenience, has a right to expect that his time shall not be needlessly wasted. This subject of punctuality, we know well enough, has its troubles, but every thing possible ought to be done to insure it. The Brooklyn society, in this respect, is not more blameworthy than a great many others; the fault is a very general one. The secretary is usually an overworked man at exhibitions; he might be greatly relieved in the manner you suggest.
It would be a great help to him, too, if exhibitors were strictly required to present an exact list of their articles at the time of entering them. To suppose that any secretary can enter promptly each article as it comes in, is a monstrous absurdity. The reception and arrangement of articles should be intrusted to parties specially appointed for the purpose. - Artificial flowers must feel very queer in such company. Unless they are exact reproductions, and made for a special scientific purpose, it seems to us that they are somewhat out of place; though we expect to get our ears boxed for saying so. But the music, " Brooklyn." We have a soul for music as well as flowers, and it is one of the very few pleasant sounds we can hear. Then, too, there is a certain sympathy between music and flowers. When AEolus plays his harp, the leaves and flowers begin to dance. We think, on the whole, " Brooklyn," that it would be well to have the music both in the afternoon and the evening; but let it be real music, if you please. - Cabbage-head Bouquets! That is expressive.
In our boyish days we were on a Flower Committee with the late Mr. Downing, and when the "Bouquets " were reached we took occasion to express our repugnance to the common method of packing and squeezing flowers into an unmeaning mass, and calling it a Bouquet. He agreed with us precisely, and there being some proper subjects before us, (which, indeed, almost suggested the discussion,) we gave the first prize (to the consternation of some of the exhibitors) to a pair of Bouquets loosely but very tastefully made up, so that the individuality of each leaf and flower was well preserved. We have seen no Bouquets since to equal them. We will send the Horticulturist for a year to the person who shall present the best pair of hand Bouquets in that style at the next Brooklyn exhibition. - The poetry of your lady friend is not bad, and the sense is excellent. - The druggists ' jars and the glaze on the muslin might both be removed with advantage. Where leaves and flowers are exhibited together, green is not the best ground; but for flowers alone it does very well, provided it is a proper green. - You are right about the awards and the room, and especially in regard to the advertisements.
In our experience with exhibitions, we have found money spent in advertising well and wisely spent. - Your "committee of one " would be a very useful and effective one. It is the individual action of members that gives force to the whole. - Though not addressed directly to them, but rather to Brooklyn, our Fairfield friends, who desire our comfort, will please apply these remarks unto their own hearts and circumstances, and profit as much as possible by them. - Ed].