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.
Nearly annihilated as I would naturally be supposed to have been by the crushing denunciation of the gentleman from Fox Meadow, in your September number, it is, perhaps, no more than proper, Mr. Editor, that I should show some indications of not being quite extinct, and of having sufficiently recovered to be capable of writing a few lines by way of rejoinder.
A grievous and unpleasant thing it unquestionably is to have unwittingly fallen under the severe displeasure of such "a veteran grape-grower" as Mr. John Ellis,but it is still a slight comfort to be informed that he has "no particular objection" to my plan, except in so far as it conflicts with his own prejudices, which, unfortunately, happen to be at variance with nearly every one of my suggestions. This is to be greatly deplored: and at the risk of being utterly extinguished by another broadside from Mr. Ellis, I will endeavor to show that I am not so entirely wrong in every particular as he endeavors to prove.
I have been informed that Mr. Ellis grows very good grapes. I am unable to say whether he grows them in the old-fashioned shed-roofed, lean-to houses for which he expresses such a decided preference. Perhaps it would have been well had he enlightened us upon this point, and also stated whether he had ever grown grapes in a house such as he so unhesitatingly condemns. If, as I infer, his houses are built upon the lean-to principle, it might be well to inquire whether he grows vines upon the back wall, and if so, whether they do not receive much less light, and ripen their wood and fruit far less perfectly, than on the north side of a span-roof. If he grows but a single row of vines, I should think it decidedly cheaper for " a commercial man" to have a little more glass, and a much larger quantity of grapes, by inclosing them under a span-roof. This proposition is, I believe, pretty generally admitted. Not so his statement, that "we invariably find in all houses erected on the curvilinear principle, that the vines and fruit are better on one side of the house than on the other." This is true of houses placed on an east and west line, but I have yet to be convinced that it is "invariably'1 the case.
There are within the limits of this city over twenty curvilinear-roofed vineries, of various forms, and in various positions; and I am quite certain that unless one side has a nearly full southern exposure, Mr. Ellis would find much difficulty in detecting any important difference between the fruit from either side of any of them; lean-tos of course excepted. " Around New York" it may be the case that a house glazed upon all sides "makes a very poor forcing-house." We, who don't happen to have the pleasure of living in that favored vicinity, may possibly be permitted to entertain a different opinion; and I can instance a very good forcing-house, belonging to a "commercial" establishment in which I was once interested, that was not only glazed all round, but with the exposed end facing nearly north. In this we grew no grapes, but plants infinitely more tender were forced very successfully, the house being a part of a range of sufficient extent to require some 3,000 feet of pipe, worked from one boiler.
I could also mention a propagating house, a structure usually considered as requiring more protection than any other, of glass, less than a hundred miles distant, built by a "commercial" firm of much intelligence and enterprise, with the intention of its being a model of its kind, which has a span-roof, and is not connected with any building. It has been for several years in operation, and has, I believe, given entire satisfaction. It would seem, therefore, that a lean-to roof is not absolutely indispensable.
It is perhaps superfluous for me to allude to the varieties proper to be grown, as Mr. Ellis proposes " to settle the whole question on this point at once," by his individual dictum.
I have no intention of denying that the Black Hamburgh is the most profitable variety that is cultivated, but we " country cousins" are not yet civilized to that degree which would render it impossible to eat anything but "Hamburghs and Muscats;" and other varieties are eaten, and sold, too, not quite so readily, perhaps, but still at prices varying but little, if any, from the standard. Consequently I see no good reason why the earlier sorts should not be planted to a limited extent; for if it is an object to force grapes at all, the difference of fifteen or twenty days in time of ripening between the Chasselas, etc., and the Hamburghs, is certainly worth something, even to "a commercial man".
I confess myself a little disappointed in Mr. John Ellis. From his former communications I imagined him to be a very sensible, clever man; but the tenor of his last one strongly inclines me to suspect him of being one of those self-sufficient, captious "practical gardeners' who are so strongly impressed with the opinion that they are the fountains of all horticultural knowledge, that they are not willing to allow that any one out of their own guild has a right to speak of matters pertaining to their craft.
[Fox Meadow's style is forcible, and he expresses his opinions confidently, but we should be sorry to think he was animated by any unkind feeling; we would rather hope that both parties have no other desire than to be useful, and will not lose their temper. - Ed].