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.
IN the March number of the Horticulturist, Mr. Elliot, with great propriety, gives a prominent place to the Duchess of Oldenburg among the "Very hardy varieties of the Apple." For upward of thirty years this variety has been grown in American nurseries, and it has occasionally been briefly noticed, but on the whole has received just attention enough to maintain its existence among collections.
For some years back, the people of the Northwest - Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc. - where the climate is so rigorous that very few varieties of the apple will endure it, have been collecting varieties noted for their hardiness.
Among those which give promise of extreme hardiness, the Duchess of Oldenburg appears to stand at the head. At a recent meeting of the Minnesota Fruit-Growers' Association, the following facts were given:
"Truman M. Smith, of Dayton's Bluff, has three Duchess of Oldenburg, standard, planted five years ago. Fruited last and this year, and one dwarf, of same, in bearing, all perfectly hardy.
"Mr. Philo Woodruff; of Waseca County, has three Duchess of Oldenburg in bearing two years, as hardy as any of our forest trees.
"H. J. Brainard, of Ramsey County, has nine Duchess of Oldenburg planted at four years old in 1861, and have all fruited, bearing good crops since 1862; perfectly hardy, not a branch or twig on one of these trees ever injured. Has also some Red Astracan and others perfectly sound. He had lost a great many trees, because almost dead when received and planted, and some not adapted to the climate.
"Col. Robertson had some sixty Duchess of Oldenburg, planted three years ago - the year of drought - all perfectly sound.
"Mr. Smith considered the Duchess as hardy as the Siberian crab apple.
"The meeting was quite unanimous in the opinion that the Duchess of Oldenburg is beyond all question adapted to our climate."
At other meetings in the West, similar statements have been made regarding this variety, and the consequence is an extraordinary demand for the trees. Where half a dozen would formerly have sufficed to fill a season's orders, it is now called for by the hundred, and even the thousand. It is not only hardy as an oak, but the fruit is beautiful and of excellent quality; "best" for cooking, but rather too acid to rank as " best" for dessert.
It is also an early bearer, trees three or four years old being often laden with fruit in the nursery rows. The tree, though a strong grower, with large foliage, like all the Russian apples we have, does not attain a large size. We have a tree in our grounds planted twenty-four years ago, and although healthy and vigorous, is not over two thirds the size of most of the other sorts planted at the same time.
In ordering Russian varieties from the European nurseries, we have received this under a great many names - frequently as "Borovitsky." And, indeed, we have not been able to procure the latter variety, if it exists, which I doubt.
All the Borovitskys we have ever received have proved to be Duchess of Oldenburg. The colored drawing of the Borovitsky, in Lindley's British Fruits, appears to be identical with the Duchess of Oldenburg, and the descriptions in all the pomo-logical works are very unsatisfactory.
The English authors say that the Borovitsky was introduced from Russia to England in 1824. I would like to know if any of our American fruit - growers have found these varieties to be distinct beyond question. Mr. Downing, I think, has proved them to be identical, and they have been so classed in the American Pomological Society's Catalogue.
The Tetofsky is an early summer variety, from the same source, and will doubtless prove equally hardy. It is said to have been grown at Columbus, Ohio, for many years, under the name of "Fourth of July Apple," brought from Germany without a name.
The Alexander, a noble-looking Russian apple, of medium quality, and the popular Red Astracan, belong to this class, and we shall no doubt get some good winter sorts from Russia, now that attention is directed to that quarter, and our present facilities for communication so great.
I think that at one time the Duchess of Oldenburg was placed on the rejected list at a meeting of the Pomological Society, and so I think was the Alexander, but that was before pomologists had their eyes opened to the varied wants of our extended country with its various climates.