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
The Diana Grape fruited with me this year, and is cer- tainly the best grape I ever tasted. The vine is a strong grower and good bearer, and will suit this climate as well as we could desire. I had Catawba grapes ripe at the same time the Dianas were ripe, and although the Catawba is a most excellent grape, it cannot be compared with the Diana for fine flavor.
In your remarks at the close of an article written by me for the Alabama Planter, you ask me to explain how it is that our native peach trees set their fruits better than the northern kinds, when the natives generally blossom in February, and the northern kinds in April.
I would most gadly comply with your request if I could do so, but I feel altogether unequal to the task. I have thought, however, that all fully acclimated stone fruits, in obedience to an unchanging law of nature, must blossom just as soon as the spring will permit, in order that the fruit may set early, while the weather is cool, and before the general rush of spring sap comes on, which I think tends to throw off the very young fruit. There are, probably, no better bearing fruit trees in the world than our native, or Chickasaw plums, and they almost always blossom here about the last of January or early in February, and set their fruit while the weather is cool; and it is pretty much the same case with our native southern peaches. On the 28th of March, last spring, our northern peaches were killed in the bud, while our native trees had a fine crop of young peaches nearly or quite as large as Partridge eggs, and were but little injured by the cold. Our wild cherries, also, blossom very early, and set their fruit well.
When I first began to cultivate the northern varieties of peaches, I thought their habit of blooming late in the spring would be a decided advantage - but I have found that in this I was mistaken. This habit of late blooming renders them liable to be destroyed by cold weather in the latter part of March, or in April - and if they escape the cold weather, the season is so warm when they blossom, (say from 10th to 20th April,) that the young fruit nearly all falls off the trees, from some cause or other; I suppose it to be owing to the warm weather. I have seen our northern peach trees loaded with young fruit about the size of small bird's eggs, and not a bud to be seen on the trees, and in this condition they would remain for two or more weeks without any perceptible change in the size of the young fruit - when the spring sap began to flow freely and rapidly, the young peaches would be thrown off in a few days Robert Harwell.
Cottage Hill, Mobile, Dec. 1950
Mr. Harwell is one of the most intelligent fruit-growers at the south, and we believe the first to test the Diana Grape there. We are glad to hear so favorable an account of it, and one corresponding to our own opinion.
His account of the habit of our northen peach trees at the south, is curious and unexpected, and shows how strong constitutional tendencies arc. It goes also to prove how necessary it is that native sorts of real excellence should be originated in every considerable section of our widely extended country, to be thoroughly adapted to such localities. Ed.