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.
It is generally known that France is the country, where, thanks to the climate and the nature of her soil, fruit attains the highest degree of perfection; and where, for the same reason, the study of them has become both easy and attractive. And in this country thus favored by nature, some cities, amongst which I mention two, Tours and Angers, have distinguished themselves particularly, by their superior culture of them. In the first named city, our respected friend, Dr. Bretonneau, who is equally eminent for his studies of plants as of natural history, has raised from seed, some years ago, a new variety of currants, to which he has given the name of "Groseillier fertile de Palnau" - Palnau being the name of his garden in which this variety has been raised. . This currant tree, having been introduced into the garden of Mr. Andre Leroy, has been there rapidly propagated, with a success proportioned to its merits, and it can now be distributed in great quantities to agriculturists. This " Fertile Currant of Palnau," was raised from the natural seed of the common currant. The distinguishing type of it is its early flowering, and in particular, the enormous abundance of its clusters.
The disposition of its branches is also different; they are generally less spreading, and much larger than the ordinary currant. The leaves are slightly whitish, with deep lobes obtusely indented. The petioles are hairy at the base. The fruit is red, and, as in all currants, slightly acid - but less so than the common species; its perfume and flavor render it very agreeable as a dessert fruit. For jellies, syrups, and preserves, it yields to none of the most esteemed varieties. It has the advantage of keeping Well on the bush until the first frosts of the season, without its being necessary to cover it.
I will now give you a description of a branch taken from one of a number of specimens of this currant, in the garden of Dr. Bretonneau, which will, much better than anything I can say, give an exact idea of the fertility and product of this valuable, acquisition.
The currants occupy on the branch, a length of sixteen inches. They hang vertically, and very close, so as to cover the stem entirely. Notwithstanding their growing so closely, they nevertheless, are perfectly developed. Each of the hunches, and there were one hundred and fifty of them, being three inches in length, carrying ten to fifteen berries, so that taking twelve for each as an average, gives one thousand eight hundred berries. These berries were about one inch and a quarter in circumference; a few of them only, which were placed towards the end of the bunches, not being more than an inch. They are certainly not so large as the.cherry currant, but they are much larger than the common kind. The total weight of these currants was a pound and a half. The bush that bore this branch, although a young one, had at least a dozen branches equally loaded with fruit, and some others which were also well covered, although pot to the same extent.
You can judge by this of the abundance of the crop, and how great the advantage would be to adopt this variety in gardens, instead of the common sort. I am certain that I do not over estimate the produce, at ten times greater than the ordinary kind.
These currant trees are pruned in the vase or goblet shape, upon which a certain quantity of permanent, or "mother" branches are left, at equal distances. Upon these permanent branches, secondary ones are thrown out, the increase of which is encouraged by pinching off the ends of those first produced, so as to have the secondary branches at distances of three or four inches apart on the permanent stem. These secondary branches are all stopped at the length of one and a half or two inches. From the base of these last named, other branches will grow out, which are treated in the same manner. At the intersection of all these ramifications, a considerable quantity of buds will be formed, which will not fail to flower, and to produce immense quantities of fruit. Each one of the small branches is only preserved three years, after which they are cut back to the place from whence they started. This process, at once simple as it is natural, adds still more to the natural fertility of this variety.
I regret that the distance that separates us, does not permit me to send you one of these branches loaded with fruit. I should have been very happy to let you see all the extraordinary merits of this remarkable species.
Wishing, nevertheless, to give you an idea of it, I send to the Pomological Congress at Philadelphia, a drawing of one of these branches, which I have had painted. I have also added drawings of some other different new fruits, that I wish to make known in America. Baptists Desportes.
Angers, France; July 13,1852.