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.
There seems to be a feeling quite prevalent among our rural friends that our Horticultural Societies might be made productive of much more good than they now accomplish, and this feeling we share very largely. Some of the members of the Brooklyn Society are moving in this matter, and we believe the society is being reorganized on a more useful basis. We hope the matter will not be allowed to rest till this has been done. Several articles have recently appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle, by members of the society, which are suggestive. "Brooklyn," the first writer, thinks "the society should have a 'local habitation as well as a name, and should not be resolved out of existence for six months after each exhibition." In this he is undoubtedly right The society, in some form or other, should be found somewhere each working day in the year, and this is entirely practicable. He thinks, also, that a society should have some other objeot than holding two flower shows a year, an opinion which we have often expressed. He suggests, first, that the society should have a proper exhibition room or " Gardener's 'Change" in some central location; a good suggestion, not without its difficulties, but worth a strong effort Second, that weekly evening meetings be held; good again.
Third, that a Reference and Circulating Library be established; nothing could be better. He has no objections to exhibitions, but thinks more than two should be held, bo that the various classes of fruits and flowers could be seen in perfection, and asks, "What satisfaction is there in looking at unripe pears and grapes?" He would entirely abolish prizes as worse than useless, and reply upon a proper esprit du corps among the members; to which'the gardeners would probably demur. But if prizes are offered, he would have them divided into three classes, one for commercial gardeners, one for hired-gardeners, and one for amateurs: a classification which we have often favored. He then very properly suggests •a course of lectures, and closes as follows: " A Society established on a plan of this kind would, I think, command support and respect; much dissatisfaction seems to have arisen lately at the degeneracy of horticultural and kindred societies; they are losing the countenance of those necessary to their useful existence, by their inertness, and by mixing up horse-racing, female equestrianism, patchworks, daguerreotypes, gambling, quack medicines, brass bands, Ac, with their exhibitions".
"Improvement" in a few days follows up the subject in the same view. He thinks a " Model Society could be maintained here in active life, and its members counted by thousands instead of hundreds, and instead of begging the public to support it, they would be eager to become members of it, even at three dollars per annum." Such a Society Brooklyn ought to have, and it would be a fitting reward for such exertions as John W. De Grauw has made. " Improvement" suggests, first, that, for want of a suitable garden, a perpetual exhibition be opened, where visitors can see specimens of choice plants, learn where they can be bought, their price, &C This would present peculiar advantages to both purchaser and seller. Second, that Catalogues of all the Nurserymen, Gardeners, Ac, be kept, which would afford further facilities to purchasers. Third, that instead of money and medal premiums, a drawing or photograph of the prize article itself be given, the Society also keeping one, as suggested in the Horticulturist some months since. This, we think, would work some good results. Fourth, that a cabinet of models, drawings, woods, an herbarium, Ac, be made Nothing could be more to the purpose.
Fifth, that there should be a Library and Reading Room, and that clubs be formed so as to get magazines, Ac, cheaper for members. A capital idea. Sixth, that the Society correspond with individuals and Societies, and solicit an exchange of plants, seeds, Ac, and also import and collect new and rare plants and seeds for distribution among the members. Good again. Seventh, that weekly meetings be held for discussion, lectures, Ac, in connection with an exhibition of specimens, and that the proceedings be published. Precisely one of the things wanted. Eighth, that all of the above be free to members, but that a small charge be made to the public for admission to the lectures, library, and exhibitions. He thinks ladies, children, invalids, business men, mechanics, and gardeners would find this a delightful place in which to pass an hour. Yes, instruction and pleasure to a much greater degree than in many places where they sometimes " pass an hour." Ninth. "Have a standing advertisement of the aims, objects, and advantages of belonging to the Society, the location, officers,, exhibitions, meetings, Ac, so that the public will know where to find it and what it is." This kills " several birds with one stone." Tenth, he thinks "there is no way in which a person could invest three dollars and receive so much benefit, or do so much good by spreading abroad such a refining influence as the Society would have." In this we agree with him, provided the other things are done He concludes by saying to those who think the thing can not be done, "Try it.
Give the public the worth of their money in practical knowledge, and they will both support the Society permanently, and patronize the gardeners." There is a mutual obligation involved in this point which ought to be further elucidated. The idea of "Improvement" clearly is, a working society, one that will do something.
We next have "Brooklyn* in response. He excepts to the expressions, " Instead of begging the public" - "The public will not support us" - " Give the public the worth of their money." He thinks the Society should calculate little on the "public" using the term in its broadest sense; that it should be more especially a society for gardeners, and that the secret of failure may be found in the fact that the public has been appealed to rather than they. He says, " Before the Society undertakes to educate the public, I think it had better secure tutors for the job by educating the gardeners." That is pretty pointed for one who "goes in" for the gardeners to the exclusion of the public. But. will the gardeners support a society of themselves? He says, "The gardeners are not beggars, and should not want the public to support a society for them. It is for their benefit, and they must pay for it, and I believe will be found willing to do so, if they can get the worth of their money." It seems to us clear that they will not without this, and then the public must help them.