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.
(R.G. C, Wellington, C. W.)
The Diana is an excellent Grape, resembling the Catawba, not so large, but ripening full two weeks sooner. It can be had in most of the nurseries, and especially around Boston, where it has been more extensively propagated. The stock is small, partly because of the demand, but more on account of being more difficult to propagate by eyes or cuttings than most other hardy varieties.
Iowa, N. Y., February, 1857.
Mr. J. J. Smith. - Dear Sir: I send you a painting of the Diana Grape which very truly represents its beauty, and, also, a hasty description of it, believing it will be acceptable to the readers of the Horticulturist, and particularly to those who are wishing for a grape "earlier than the Isabella, and better than the Catawba.".
Seven years since, the exquisite perception and unerring judgment of A. J. Downing, after two seasons' acquaintance with its fruit, "unhesitatingly pronounced it the best of American grapes." Time has not only affirmed the decision, but more fully developed its surpassing excellences and beauty. In habit and appearance, it strongly resembles the Catawba, and is undoubtedly the offspring of that fine grape, but it is a much more vigorous grower, and, in consequence of ripening its wood much earlier, it is more hardy, and its fruit is not, like the Catawba, liable to occasional injury by "rot".
It grows without difficulty from "single eyes," in the hands of the skilful propagator, but does not take root readily, in the open air, from cuttings. Layers furnish the best plants for immediate bearing, and, when well grown, produce fine specimens of fruit the first season- after planting. To exhibit its excellence, it , requires such treatment as all other grapes need: soil deeply worked, dry, and generously, but not excessively enriched, full exposure to the sun, and breadth of. border proportioned to its rampant growth. It is not dainty, but does not tolerate ill usage.
Its berries are slightly less in size than those of Catawba, of the same globular form - bunches very compact and heavy - conical - not properly shouldered; but the main bunch has generally a small one appended by a long branch. In color,' it resembles its parent, but.is subdued by a delicate tinge of lilac, which gives an exceeding loveliness of tone that seems to invite the expectation of its superior flavor. The berries have, generally, upon their exposed surface three or four small white stars whose rays are often obscured by its copious bloom, showing only a milky dot. The berries adhere strongly to the peduncle, which is woody, and consequently fitted for long keeping, which is one of its valuable characteristics.
Towards the last of August, in this vicinity (fifty miles north of New York), it has made considerable progress in ripening, and has become "good" to eat, being very sweet and juicy, with but little toughness or acidity in its pulp. At this period, it has something of the foxiness that characterizes the Isabella and Catawba. This is fully two weeks before the Isabella arrives at the eatable stage, and before the Catawba has begun to color.
As the season advances, it parts with all of its foxiness and the acidity in its pulp, but retaining a vestige of its toughness scarcely perceptible, it becomes exceedingly sweet, juicy, rich, and vinous, and delightfully aromatic. In pure, high, vinous flavor, it greatly surpasses the Catawba, in its best state, at Cincinnati, and ripens two degrees of latitude further north than the Isabella. Although it ripens early, it is not injured by hanging late on the vines, and severe frosts destroy none of its vinous life or aroma. C. W. G.