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.
There are few persons, even among our most experienced horticulturists, on this side of the Atlantic, who know to what perfection floriculture is carried in some parts of Europe, where certain plants are made the object of especial attention and admiration. Every one has heard of the Tulip and Hyacinth cultures of Holland, and the Rose culture of France, but no where arc the entire perfections of floriculture carried to so high a pitch, at the present moment, as in Great Britain. In the first place, we must remember that gardening is the passion of many of the nobles and persons of the largest wealth in that kingdom;* in the second place that the gardeners are a highly intelligent reading class; in the third place that labor is comparatively cheap, and lastly that the prizes given at the great horticultural fetes have bro't all the best horticultural talent into a wide field of competition.
The result of these various circumstances has been to make the two great horticultural world has ever known. Although Britain is by no means a propitious climate, for fruit, (we believe Voltaire said the only ripe fruit England yielded was a baked apple,) the displays of grapes, peaches, pine-apples, and other choice pomonal treasures, at these shows, are in point of size and beauty, if not in flavor, hardly to be equaled by any part of the world where these separate fruits grow naturally, with all the advantages of a genial climate.
Our attention, however, was most attracted by the specimens of exotic plants grown by the leading florists and gardeners, and shown at these exhibitions. Species, that we usually know only as lean and indifferent in habit - because all attention to high development is denied them, here showed the same superiority to the specimens as commonly grown, that a fine thorough-bred animal does over a lean, starved creature of the country stock. It was not merely that the flowers were finer, or the plants healthier, or the foliage fresher, but that the whole plant had been developed with a perfection of growth, symmetry, and luxuriance, that we had never seen elsewhere, and that, in fact, has never been seen until the last ten years.
We give, to illustrate our remarks, three very accurate portraits of rare plants shown at these exhibitions last year. Most of our readers, who have a taste for exotics, will understand at a glance how different these specimens, loaded with flowers at every point, fresh with health in every pore, are from the same things as most of us know them in our collections. It is one thing to be able to keep plants alive, and another to bring them to the highest development which art and nature conjointly make possible.