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.
I discovered, with some surprise, Mr. Editor, upon opening your May number, that a remark of mine in a former communication under the above title has greatly disturbed the equanimity of Mr. Chorlton. Judging from the asperity with which he criticises me, he considers himself aggrieved in no small degree.
"Without any disrespect towards the above-named gentleman," I may be allowed to say, that the acidity of his remarks seems to me quite unnecessary, and entirely uncalled for by anything in my article, which was written without the slightest intention of giving him offence, or of disparaging his treatise.
With his principles and practice in general, I am by no means at variance, and require none of the "testimony" which he offers to adduce, to convince me of their excellence and general applicability; as regards this particular locality, however, where the temperature occasionally falls as low as ten to twenty degrees below zero, I saw no impropriety in dissenting from Mr. Chorlton's dictum upon the point in question, innocently enough supposing that an amateur might be permitted to express his views and opinions, even if they did chance to conflict with those of such an unimpeachable authority.
I see nothing in my communication to which Mr. Chorlton should take exceptions, unless he desires and expects that his directions should be considered infallible, and equally suited to every climate. I do not understand that he claims this- - in fact, he admits that they may require "slight modification." Now, a "modification" of his rules respecting ventilatfon, is precisely what I have practiced, and found to succeed well.
As Mr. Chorlton "would like to know how " I arrived at the conclusion that he "ever advocated a short allowance of air until late in the season," I will refer him to his treatise. At page 49, he says: "Do not give any bottom air at any time, until the fruit shows for color;" and at page 65: " As the grapes continue to color, admit more air in clear days; open the lower ventilators- a little at first, gradually increasing till a free current of fresh air is obtained".
I consider these passages sufficiently explicit. If I am under "a slight mistake," as is intimated, in understanding them to mean that Mr. Chorlton allows top ventilation only, until his fruit is partially colored, then it must be confessed that their real meaning is most admirably disguised.
Respecting "the details of practice," which Mr. Chorlton requests me to furnish, you would probably say, Mr. Editor, that your space would not permit the insertion of a diary of my vinery, had I kept one, which 1 have not. I am not sufficiently interested in the "relative vigor" of my own and my neighbors' vines, to institute a critical comparison on that point, nor do I purpose exploring my friends' borders, in order to ascertain whether their roots "are or are not in a healthy state;" I will, however, state in brief, that my vinery is a curvilinear lean-to house, 13 by 35 feet in area, fronting a little east of south. The front sashes, six in number, all open out, and there are two large ventilators in the back wall, near the top, equal in their aggregate length to nearly two-thirds that of the house. It has no protection from the south-west winds - generally our coldest and most violent ones . - except several apple-trees standing at some distance.
I find it more difficult to keep the temperature sufficiently low "at the beginning of the season" than later, when the foliage has shaded the house. For instance - to-day, (May 4th,) at noon, the thermometer indicated 92° with four of the lower ventilators, both the upper ones, and the door, all open. Can. Mr. Chorlton venture to guess where the mercury would have stood had the upper ventilators only, been open? (It is of course understood that I am speaking of bright, warm days. In cool, and cloudy weather, when "under currents of cold air," which annoy Mr. Chorlton so much, would be prejudicial, it is obvious that less ventilation is required).
After a careful perusal of Mr. Chorlton's article and my own, I do not see that he has disproved my statements, or given me any reason to change my views. I stated a fact which had come to my knowledge - that "some of my neighbors" had had their wood winter-killed, while mine was not - (I scarcely think that my "assertion" will be denied by the gentlemen alluded to). Their vines were protected, of course - so were mine; - I have observed their wood just coloring, while mine was in an advanced stage of ripeness - my house had received free ventilation from the bottom, and theirs, as I understood, very little. Hence my conclusions.
Mr. Chorlton seems to imply that I have advanced several points, which he will find, by referring to my article, to have been gratuitously assumed by himself, as emanating from me. I have not denied that his work is one of great excellence, nor, that by following its instructions, canes of "1 1/2 to I 3/4 inch in diameter have been perfectly ripened" in other places. Nor that "the vitis vinifera is so constituted as to require a long, steady, and warm temperature to produce maturity," notwithstanding "all Mr. Eaton or any other cultivator may say to the contrary." (If Mr. C. will inform me when or where I ever said "anything to the contrary" of that propostion, he will greatly oblige me).
I have never claimed that I had "made my vines more than usually hardy, without reference to any man's advice or method," or asserted that my neighbors' were "below my excellence." I admit having had the vanity to speak of having produced some fine Muscats, but did not mention that I was assured by cultivators who came to see them, that they were th*e best specimens which had been produced here; my own opinion was that there were others equally good.
Mr. Chorlton has evidently worked himself into an unamiable frame of mind. If he has been in this unpleasant state since the appearance of my article in February last, I can only offer my regret at having been the unintentional cause of it; and I hope that after he has more calmly considered the subject, he will have the candor to admit that he has been somewhat hasty in his criticism.