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.
This valuable seedling of Mr. P. Raabe, Philadelphia, has already been mentioned in the ad-interim report of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 1853, and is described by Dr. Brinckle as: "Bunch medium, berry medium: round, green faintly tinged with salmon when exposed to the sun; flesh tender, juicy, flavor rich, sweet and delicious, quality best" Period of maturity, September.
To the above description we have nothing to add. It was the same berry in 1858, larger in size, and the vine more vigorous and productive. It is to be regretted that such a valuable acquisition has been so long neglected; we should now be able to judge its hardiness in different latitudes and aspects.
Mr. P. Raabe, the originator, has kindly furnished us with the historical facts relating to its origin; we quote his lines:
"The historical part of our Clara is a hard matter to make out as we do not know the parents of that vine. It is a chance seedling as it came up in the middle of the box edging. The first leaves had a very rough appearance, and several times I had a notion to pull it out; but fortunately left it, untouched, out of real neglect; and when it became more firmly established I had to bend it down and let it come up more on the inside of the edge, as the branches were too much in the way. The first few berries made their appearance in 1853. Since that time it was mostly left to itself, and it made a rather wild growth until this year, when it turned out in its full strength".
Nearly the same story as with all the best grapes; a feeble growth in starting; a few berries at the first fruiting; afterwards vigor and fertility.
How many fine seedlings have been thus neglected, and finally destroyed, for want of a little "patience".
But fortunately we have the Clara as a precious addition to our still short list of native varieties of great merit. The fruit is tested and stands high indeed. The only thing to be tested is the hardiness of the vine under unfavorable circumstances: but we think that, if steam propagation does not weaken the offspring of the parent, they will prove to be just as vigorous, and well fitted to the climate of the middle states. As in all seedlings from foreign grapes, the young plants will require more care and time to come up to the native standards. It was so with the Delaware and still more so with the Rebecca. The only perfectly hardy and most vigorous grape vines, seem to belong to the order of the Fox grapes. The more the fruit recedes from that original native type, the more care and attention the vines will require; but that can be no objection to the raising and propagation of luscious grapes. All the most delicate and rich fruits are subject to the same law; and those alone will reap the best crops and the finest fruits, who pay the proper attention to their cultivation. - L. E. Berckmans.