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 Catawissa Raspberry is a native variety, entirely new and distinct in its characteristics, in respect to the manner of bearing, and the periods of maturing its fruit, which promise to render it an object of general cultivation. From its appearance and mode of growth, I have no doubt but it is a seedling produced from the common wild Black Raspberry of the country, which grows in great abundance about the regions where it originated; nor can I learn that any other varieties native or foreign, wild or cultivated, ever grew near the original plant, except, perhaps, the Thimble Berry, (Rubus purpurea, or odorata,) which, from the dissimilarity of the two, I do not suppose had any thing to do with its production.
This bountiful gift of nature originated in the grave-yard of the little Quaker Meeting House, in the village of Catawissa, Columbia county, Pennsylvania, situated near the confluence of a stream of the same name with that noble river, the Susquehanna. The history of the discovery is simply as follows : The person who had the care of the meeting house, from whose own lips I received the account, was in the habit of mowing the grass in the grave-yard several times in the course of the year; and on one occasion, some eight or ten years since, observed that a brier, which he had often clipped with his scythe, showed symptons of bearing fruit out of the ordinary season. For this time he spared the plant, bestowing upon it his watchful care; and afterwards removed it to his own humble cottage, to be fostered and cherished, no more to waste its sweetness "on the desert air." From a plant that found its way to this district, I was struck with its peculiarities; and was resolved to devote myself to its cultivation and increase, and am now prepared to describe its properties, so far as two years' experience has allowed opportunities of observation.
The fruit is of medium size, inferior to many of the new popular varieties, but is sufficiently large for all economical purposes. Its color is dark-redish purple, when ripe, and is of a very high flavor. It bears most abundantly throughout the season after the young wood on which it produces its best fruit attains a height of four or five feet, usually beginning to ripen early in August, but sometimes sooner. The fruit is produced on branches continually pushing out from all parts, successively appearing in its various stages of growth, from the blossom to perfect maturity; and often there may be counted more than fifty fruits on a single branch. As the fruit on each branch successively ripens, the later ones diminish in size, but there is no suspension of its fruiting until checked by frost. If protected in doors, it undoubtedly would produce fruit during the winter months.
One great advantage of this fruit over other varieties of the Raspberry is, that if the stocks should be accidently broken, or cut off, or should be killed by winter frosts, it is all the better for the crop; and if all other fruits should fail from the effects of spring frost, we would have this to rely upon as a substitute during the fall months. Another great advantage is, that from a small space of a few yards of ground a daily desert for a small family would always be at hand, at a time when other Raspberries cannot be had.
[We hope Mr. Pierce's expectations will be fully realized in this Catawissa Raspberry; time must determine its value. We have entire confidence in his statements, but his experience with it is not quite such as to be conclusive with the public; several instances of supposed perpetual bearers having been found on trial of more than doubtful value. Let us suggest that all new fruits and flowers, candidates for popular favor and high prices, be brought before some competent and disinterested judges, and let them pass upon their merits.
We have suggested the above not to deter purchasers from testing the Catawissa Raspberry, on the contrary we think it worthy of trial; but it is our duty to express apprehensions when we really entertain them.
Hardy Raspberries of good quality are still desiderata, if every kind has been so out down as they appear to have been in this vicinity. It is to be hoped that the readers of the Horticulturist will report their experience in these matters as occasion offers; there is no more important branch of gardening in our country than that which relates to the raising of hardy fruits every way adapted to the climate. - Ed].
This fine new ever-bearing Raspberry is a native of Catawissa, Columbia County, Pennsylvania, and has been brought into notice by Mr. Joshua Peirce, of Washington, D. C. A plant that had withstood, without protection, the unprecedented and intense cold of last winter, was examined on the 7th of September. At that time it was loaded with blossoms, ripe fruit, and unripe berries, in all the intermediate stages.
Size of Berry, rather large, some being three-fourths of an inch in diameter. Form, roundish-oblate, or, more correctly, hemispherical. Shin, of a deep crim-son color, thickly covered with bloom. Flavor, fully equal to the so-called, but spurious, Antwerp Raspberry of the Philadelphia market. Quality, "very good." This variety is an ever-bearer, wonderfully productive, and worthy of cultivation.
This fruit comes quite up to its character the present season, having borne profusely, during August, on the new wood Prof. C G. Page, of Washington, D. C, says (in Hovey's Magazine) what is undoubtedly the fact, that he has realised in it a source of new varieties, and to such an extent, that ere long the Catawissa will be cherished only as a breeder. He adds: " I have now two seedlings of the second generation from the Catawissa, and while the fruit of both is superior to the original, the bearing term is extended far beyond it. We cannot but look upon its introduction as the dawn of a new era in raspberry culture. The varieties are generally more hardy than the Antwerp".
A circular from Joshua Peirce, of Washington, D. C, setting forth the value of this newly-introduced perpetual fruit, gives opinions in its favor from the best sources. The Catawissa we consider a most valuable introduction. It ripens its berries till hard frost. No doubt it is to be the parent of still better fruit.
J. Jay Smith. - Dear Sib: Isn't the Rebecca Grape a " great institution" for a small one? (I use the above expression to avoid a repetition of the descriptive term, "decided acquisition,'1 which I think I have seen used semi-occasionally /) and the Delaware, too f The Rebecca, I think, will nearly answer the requirements which you once suggested to me as very desirable for a new hardy grape. I have one fine young vine of it, obtained, about a year since, from Mr. Brooksbank, which has made a growth so good, the past season, that I shall expect fruit from it soon - possibly a specimen next year. Two bunches of the ripe grapes from Mr. B., were sent to me in the fall of 1856, and were unanimously commend I by the leading members of our Horticultural Society. I have the promise of a "copy" of the Delaware, next spring, from a friend, for the reception of which (the vine, not the friend !) I have already provided a border, suitably large, deep, and well composted. By the way, have you, personally, the Hartford Prolific ? If not, I should be pleased to present you with one in the spring. [We have not, and being just now greatly interested in the grape, shall be glad of a "copy." - Ed].
This grape, allow me to say, is destined to take a high rank among hardy native vines, not in your latitude, possibly, but north of New York. We do not claim for it that it is always equal, in every respect, to the Isabella, although many good judges have so pronounced it. But it is of "good" quality, to say the least, and is, invariably, from fifteen to twenty days earlier than the Isabella, with the same exposure, soil, etc. Mr. Chorlton has, on two occasions (in 1856 and 1857), expressed to me an opinion quite favorable as to its merits, generally, and particularly in favor of its being a first-rate wine grape. It will surely surpass the Concord in many desirable points.
Col. Wilder has so far signified his tardy adherence to "our side," as to order from the nursery of J. Mason & Co., of Hartford, this fall, two dozen Hartford Prolines - a part for fruiting, and a part for propagation.
"Jani satis." - Perhaps I am trespassing upon your time and patience, [Quite the contrary. - ED.] Yours, respectfully, Dahiel S. Dewey, Hartford, Conn.
According to the same magazine, Mr. Pierce, of Washington, D. C., has raised this fruit in such quantities that he has sent to market to the extent of sixty quarts a day, through September up to the second of October. It is undoubtedly a valuable fruit, and we are expecting to hear of its improvement by hybridization soon.
There appears to have been some surprise expressed at the report of the convention regarding this fruit, but whatever may be said to the contrary, there is no doubt of its value with us, and with all those whom we have conversed with. Both for amateurs and as a market fruit it appears to us to be very desirable.
The best cultivators are now unanimously recommending to out all plants of this variety in the spring down to about two feet, and apply plenty of manure. Thus treated, they will continue productive for any number of years - a splendid family variety.