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.
Autumn seems like a late and " after the fair" period, to speak of the results of a gone-by winter; yet the effects of such winters as the last are not always sufficiently developed to warrant an opinion with regard to them until the brief spring which follows has passed away, and summer, that, in consequence offspring's brevity, has so much of the work of two seasons to perform, has had an opportunity to exercise its resurrection influence, and tell us what is coming into hopeful life, and what is dead beyond all recovery.
Our last winter, among the Berkshire Hills, was long and uniformly cold. With us, however, the mercury did not realize the depression that it often does in milder and briefer winters. Its lowest mark, by our observation, was 20° below zero, or 3° and 4° less than was the case in several preceding winters. We had no thaws worthy of the name until late in March, and the dumber of times from December 25 until that period, when the mercury rose above freezing, were few as well as brief. The quantity of snow, if it had lain level, would have measured from three and a half to four feet, according to localities. But, in most situations, it was badly drifted; consequently, highways and gardens had a large supply. In the latter, it served as a beautiful protection to tender plants, insomuch they wintered finely under its cover, though it was rather severe in breaking down young trees, especially dwarfs.
In consequence of winter's closing in by a fall of snow upon unfrozen ground, the advance of spring, so far as the dying away of mud was concerned, was rapid. But the departure of the snow, and the settling of the ground, did not bring warm weather. Cold and chilling northerly winds prevailed through May, and, in consequence, the progress of vegetation was slow and unhealthy.
But, to mark the effects of the winter, small fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, currants, Ac, never passed its ordeal better. So with roses and all flowering plants and shrubs that were covered with snow. Above this snow-line, however, all but the more hardy kinds were killed.
Peach-trees suffered most severely of all our fruits. The last year's growth gave out their feeble blossoms and died, so that the trees, until the last of June, looked more fit for the brush-heap than the garden. Many were cut down, but in most cases where they were allowed to stand, they (unless in very old trees) threw out new shoots, and, by the middle of August, assumed appearances of hopeful thrift, so that we anticipate future crops from them. The peach gave no fruit.
*This interesting article was intended for a former number, but was crowded out; it has, however, lost by a short delay, none of its value. - Ed.
Plums, in some localities, were entirely destroyed. These losses were not peculiar to old and decaying trees, but we saw whole rows of young trees, which were vigorous a year ago, that gave no sign of verdure this year. These losses were greatest in partially sheltered localities. Next to the peach and plum, the cherry was the greatest sufferer. Some few trees in the circle of our observation were lost, but the damage was principally in the loss of the later growth of last year. The quantity of cherries was moderate, very.