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 regular Conversational Meeting was held at the Athenaeum on Tuesday evening, August 20th. The attendance, especially of ladies, was large, and the display of flowers remarkably good. Mr. Bridgeman, of New York, presented a collection of eleven kinds of Caladium, and about a hundred varieties of Gladioli, making a very brilliant show. Mr. Humphreys, of Brooklyn, presented a fine collection of cut flowers and plants in pots. Mr. Fuller, of Brooklyn, presented choice Gladioli. Mr. Weir, of Bay Ridge, presented cut flowers and bouquets. Messrs. Dailledouze and Zeller presented very choice cut Roses; and several others had cut flowers. Mr. Mead occupied a few moments in explaining the characteristics and beauties of the flowers on the table, and commending the spirit of the exhibitors in affording those present so much enjoyment. The appointed subject of discussion, "Bulbs and their Culture," was then taken up, and debated by Messrs. Mead, Bridgeman, Fuller, Pardee, Brophy, and others. We have unfortunately lost our notes of this discussion. We could give the substance of our own remarks, but prefer not to do so while unable to present the remarks of others.
Suffice it to say, that the speakers gave those present a good deal of valuable information on the subject of bulbs and their cultivation, and were listened to attentively. The whole proceedings were very interesting. The subject of "The Grape, and its Culture," was set apart for the next meeting, and the Society adjourned.
The last Conversational Meeting was held at the Athenaeum on Tuesday evening, September 3d. The weather was very stormy, which prevented the presence of the ladies; but the male attendance was good, and among them some of our most noted horticulturists. We noticed Dr. Grant of Iona, Dr. Houghton of Philadelphia, Mr. Barnard of Boston, Mr. Fitch of the Agriculturist, Mr. Pardee, and many others. As usual, there were a number of fine plants and flowers on the table.
Mr. Bridgeman, of New York, exhibited finely-grown grape vines in pots, in excellent condition for a crop next season. He had also 65 varieties of choice Gladioli, to which he has devoted much attention. Mr. Burgess, of East New York, exhibited a seedling Dahlia, a seedling Rose, and a seedling Phlox, all of them meritorious. He is noted as a seedling raiser. He also showed Daphne oneorum, which we again commend to every body. Mr. Messelberg, gardener to James Barnes, Esq., of Williamsburgh, exhibited fine Asters and some superb Balsams. Mr. Chorlton, of New Brighton, sent in a basket of large and handsome Pears, and flowers of the Peristeria alata. Mr. Humphries exhibited two baskets of flowers, more tasteful than usual, made in accordance with our suggestions at the last meeting. One of the members whose name we forget, placed on the table a Stapelia in bloom. This singular flower was new to-many, and excited a good deal of attention.
The following account of what was said has been furnished by a friend.
A general lecture by Mr. Mead on the subjects before him on the table, in which he pointed out the peculiarities of different flowers, and in what consisted their particular beauties, improvements, and defects, was listened to with marked attention, and opened the way for the general introduction of the subject of the evening, "The Cultivation of the Grape." This Mr. Mead proposed should be taken up in a systematic manner, commencing with the preparation of the soil, manner and time of planting, varieties, pruning, etc. He alluded to the great importance of its culture, and the necessity of accurate information in regard to it, stating the facility with which ladies might engage in its culture, and quoting an example of a lady in Poughkeepsie, who, besides having one of the best managed and most tastefully arranged flower gardens on the Hudson, has found time to grow successfully many of the finer varieties of out-door grapes. Mr. Mead then introduced Dr. Grant, of Iona. Dr. Grant wished to postpone his remarks to a future occasion, having come there to get information, and begged to be excused.
Dr. Houghton, of Philadelphia, then being called on, spoke of the culture of the Vine in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, giving a very discouraging account of his experiments with out-door vines. The Catawba, he said, can not be ripened except in rare instances, and they are not able to grow the Isabella, so that it becomes either a pleasant or healthful fruit to eat. Had an acre and a half of vineyard now three years old, and no fruit; would be glad to know that the native grapes could be grown with profit, and would take a great deal of trouble to visit any one in the neighborhood of Philadelphia who is growing out-door grapes successfully. His objections, he said, were based upon practical experience. He had not yet given the Delaware, Diana, or others of the new varieties, a fair trial. The Dela-ware he considered too small. The foreign varieties he had cultivated under glass with very great success, and considered them superior to the native grape. They were grapes that any one might eat without injury.
In city yards the native grapes are grown successfully, and are considered desirable by those who are not in the habit of eating Black Hamburghs and Muscats of Alexandria. He said a good grapery can be built and planted for $700, 15 feet wide and 100 feet long, and that those present could estimate how much money would be required to prepare an acre of ground for a vineyard. In a grapery one has less enemies to contend with. Early frost, the black beetle, mildew,(etc., could be avoided under glass. He wished to know, before sitting down, if any one could tell him the best time for transplanting Diana vines three years old, and if it would do before the leaves fall, quoting the practice of European gardeners of raising their vines, renewing their borders, and returning them without draw-back, the fruit being full and fine the following year.
Mr. Mead stated, in reply to Dr. Houghton, that before the leaves fall would be the very worst time for transplanting any thing, and that what might be done safely in the moist climate of England and the continent, would be fatal in our dry climate. In regard to Grapes, he did not think it fair to draw comparisons between those that had been perfected by centuries of cultivation and those that had only been known 30 to 50 years; he thought that when our native varieties had been cultivated as long as those of Europe, they would be equally fine. He stated that the rot had affected the Catawba to such an extent that it was not now deemed a safe grape to cultivate. The foreign vine can not be grown in the open air, and the construction of glass houses is not within the means of every one; the popular demand is for an outdoor grape, and he believed want of success with Dr. Houghton was to some extent due to the varieties he named, but more particularly to his manner of cultivation. That grapes can be grown in this country, and profitably, has long since been settled beyond all question. In regard to the size of the Delaware, to which Dr. Houghton objected, Mr. Mead stated, that we do not yet know its capabilities; it was increasing in size every year.
He had Men bunches this season that would weigh half a pound each, and a few that would weigh three quarters of a pound, with berries nearly or quite as large as the Diana, He had no doubt that it was one of the most productive grapes in cultivation; it only wanted time and age to recover from the effects of too persistent propagation. He stated further, that if the Doctor would take the same care and trouble in preparing his native vines that he took with his foreign vines, he would get fruit from them just as soon.
Mr. Pardee said that he had never known the Catawbas to fail a single year grown as he grows them. Stated that he had taken a premium for Catawba for six successive years at one of our prominent agricultural fairs; had visited vine* yards for which $800 per acre had been offered for the produce of a single year. He thought that Dr. Houghton had painted too dark a picture.
Mr. Brophy thought that grapes under glass were more profitable than those grown in the open air, and considered the foreign grape as most superior; thought there was nothing like them for the dessert or the sick room, and that they could be grown under glass in any of our city yards.
Mr. Bridgeman remarked that the culture of the foreign vine could only be attempted by the few, while the native vine could be cultivated by every labor-ing man.
Mr. Mead took up one of Mr. Bridgeman's pot plants, and explained how he stopped vines to produce a larger cane, after which the society adjourned.
This closed the most interesting meeting of the season. The fall exhibition taking place from the 18th to the 20th of September, the next conversational meeting will be held the first Tuesday evening in October, when the subject of Grape growing will be continued.