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.
The autumn of 1852 was beautifully fine for ripening the wood of fruit trees. The season throughout was so dry that the growth of twigs was less, and stopped earlier than usual. The frosts began later in the season, so that the wood had sufficient time to mature and the buds to encase themselves in their sealed cells before the commencement of winter; and winter, as if tired of vexing the patience by severe and pinching cold alternated by thaws, preserved an even and agreeable temperature - gave no very cold and but few thawy days. Spring had none of the tantistic tricks of freezing and thawing in which she is so apt to play off her flirtations, to the annoyance and injury of the cultivator. All these things were very favorable, so that in due time the trees put forth their leaves and blossoms to the extremities of their healthful branches. Consequences were as follows:
Gooseberries, currants, raspberries, etc, gave abundant crops. The former gave less show of mildew than is usual, and we have no doubt but with proper precautions the evil may be overcome, so that the better varieties, which are really delicious, will be more generally cultivated.
Cherries came on in their season - a good crop. There is not, in Berkshire, one tree where there should be one hundred; so that the supply was limited to individuals. It is a tree of easy culture in our soil, and hardy in our climate; and the only cause why they are not raised in abundance, must be owing to the indifference of the people.
The Peach tree has exhibited desirable indications of health and thrift. Every tree we saw was heavily laden with fruit - some with that of the most delicious quality; and if all were not productive of good, it was owing to negligence or indifference of the cultivators. The productions of this fruit the present year will give a new impulse to its cultivation; and we have no doubt but Berkshire - indeed, the whole country between the Hudson and Connecticut rivers - will yet produce an abundant supply of peaches of the first water for its population.
Grapes have succeeded admirably the last season, wherever they have been aided by the hand of cultivation or have found a straggling matted vine to grow upon. The difference in quality and maturity between those furnished by the care and no care process, is decidedly in favor of the former, and should stimulate all to a little extra exertion to provide themselves with the best of this delicious and healthy fruit.
Plums have succeeded according to locality. In some places the trees are nearly destroyed by the black bunches on the branches; and in such localities the crop has failed. But in favorable localities the crop has been abundant even of the more delicate varieties.
Pears have done well, and those who have been most faithless are beginning to open their eyes (and labor with their hands) to the culture of the better kinds, all which, with proper care, are admirably at home in this region.
The apple crop is short, which may be attributed mainly to the fact that reliance is yet placed, to an extent, on old and ill-cultivated trees which have had their day and served two or three generations, who have rewarded them by injudicious pruning and miserable culture until their day and strength is past, and they ask to be let alone to die and have their places supplied by new orchards, more kind care to which will provoke greater fruitfulness, and give strength to live out a more vigorous and extreme old age.