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.
A. J. Downing, Esq - Dear Sir: As you expressed in the Horticulturist a wish to hear from different parts of the country, respecting the effect of the last extraordinary winter on trees and plants, I will endeavor to tell you how things stand in this neighborhood, although it is doleful enough. The latter part of the summer of 1861, as well as the autumn and forepart of winter, was unusually dry, and the trees making no late growth, the wood was perfectly matured. The first cold weather was on the 15th of December, the thermometer standing at 4. On the 18th it was at zero. January 18th, 2 below zero; 19th, 28 below zero; 22d, 16 below zero, all at sunrise, when the thermometer was at its lowest. 28th, at noon, it was 70, and Blue birds singing; 80th, at sunrise, 60. Here was a difference of temperature of 98 degrees, in the short space of nine days; no wonder it proved so dieastrous. Through the month of February, and the first half of March, the weather was very pleasant, so that vegetation was far advanced, and the pear tree nearly in bloom, but on the 18th the thermometer fell to 16. and since then it has continued cold and disagreeable, until the last days in April.
In summing up the injury that has been done, I allude to my own garden and neighborhood, generally, for there are few places where the situation is a favorable one, that they have not suffered quite so much. My peach trees are nearly all killed; and part of the one year old pear trees in the nursery, with some of those two and three year old, that were planted out. Magnolia grandiflora* M. purpurea, and M. tripetela, are frozen to the ground. Magnolia macrophylla is injured only on a few shoots of last years growth. My beautiful Pyrus Ja-ponica hedge had not one early flower, and some of its twiggs are frozen. Chinese Honey suckle. Deutzia seabra, and the hardy roses, with one single exception, are killed to the ground. The Chinese Arborvitae is entirely destroyed.
The Trumpet Honeysuckle, the White Italian Honeysuckle, the Purple, White, and Persian Lilac, the Snowball, the Fringe Tree, and Venitian Sumac, are the only tilings that es escaped.
Of Apples, I think we shall have a tolerable good crop, only a few of those that were most advanced were injured by the late frosts. Pears we shall have but few; and Plums none at all; the Curculio destroys them all, and so I cut down the trees.
A few words about the Osage Orange. In the fourth vol., page 146, of the Horticulturist, your correspondent, J., says the seed all rotted in the ground, and then asks, " Was the seed worthless, or was it immersed too long, or was the water too hot?" On the 5th of April, 1848, I planted a quart of Osage Orange seed that bad been soaked for 40 hours in warm water, and afterwards spread on a board for 82 hours. When I received the seed the ground was not prepared, and by the time I was ready to plant, it rained, and continued to rain for several days; at last, in a fit of desperation, I made drills in the mud with my fingers, (it was impossible to use the drilling machine ;) threw in the seed, and covered it slightly. Never was seed put in in worse condition, nor did any ever grow better; indeed, I thought every seed came up. The water poured over the seeds was not quite so hot as that used by your correspondent. I imagine the seed was worthless when he got it. In conclusion, let me tell you. Mr. Editor, that I have received much of benefit and plea sure from the perusal of your volumes. Should you find anything in this, my first attempt, likely to interest your readers, you are at liberty to use it.
I am sir, respectfully yours, J. M. J. Smith. Fayetteville. Arkansas, May 4, 1852.