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.
Being a constant reader of your valuable HorticuLturist, and seeing the notices about new grapes from all parts of the country, it struck me that perhaps neither you nor your readers would object to a few words about comparatively old varieties as they have proved, out here West I mean Norton's Virginia, Herbemont and Concord, which are my special favorites so far. What may turn up in future, among about seventy of the best varieties I have on trial, I am anxious for time to show. But those three have been thoroughly tried, and I can vouch for every word I say about them.
Of the first I send you a small sample of wine, made by Mr. M. Poschel here, and a description written for, and cut from the pages of the Valley Farmer. Please excuse the smallness of the sample; I could only obtain two bottles, which I had to divide into about thirty samples. It is the pure juice of the grape, without any addition whatever.
The Herbemont has been tried here now for ten or twelve years, and has proved uniformly productive, little subject to mildew and rot, is a magnificent bunch, and, in my opinion, hard to beat as a table-grape, although the berries are somewhat small. It is a luxuriant grower, and keeps its leaves until late in the Fall. Its berries are justly described as being "bags of wine." It is, however, somewhat tender, and should be pruned in the Fall, and covered with earth. It will withstand any common winter, but such winters as 1855 and '56 are too much for it. It makes an excellent wine, superior to Catawba, and will at least produce 500 gallons per acre annually. The Concord has only fruited with us twice, but in very unfavorable seasons. It feels itself evidently at home here, in our soil and climate, not suffering in the least from rot and mildew, and bearing fruit abundantly. It is here much better in quality than either Catawba or Isabella, and fully proves Samuel Miller's assertion, that "those at the East do not know what a really good Concord is," so much does it improve the further it is brought South. I am confident that at least $100 would be realized hero per acre, by planting the Concord for the St. Louis market.
The Catawba will give a medium crop, about 200 to 250 gallons per acre, this season. It will soon be supplanted by better varieties, and in ten years from now, I hope to see but very little of it left. It is evidently not suited to the climate, and though it will always pay the diligent cultivator for his labor, yet there are many varieties superior to it here.
Peaches are scarce here this season, pears also, owing to the late Spring frosts, but apples are, as usual, abundant. We have several new grapes, peaches and apples here, of great promise, of which I hope to send you samples as soon as ripe.
But now, I am afraid, I have exhausted the patience of you and your readers, and you will doubtless be glad if 1 stop this rambling talk.
At the late exhibition of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society specimens of Delaware grapes, found in three different locations, in a wild state, were exhibited. This only proves that it is a native. Two new grapes were exhibited at the late Pomological Meeting at Zanesville, Ohio, by Mr. Carpenter, of Kelley's Island; the Lydia, quite distinct from all other American seedlings; the berry is of a fine yellowish green color when ripe, of good flavor, more sprightly than Isabella, and with less aroma than Catawba; berries round, medium size; buncb rather small and irregular in form; color approaching the Anna. The other is called Mottled, and is from seed of the Catawba, which it resembles in form, taste, and color, but the berries are smaller, with a mottled or clouded appearance; bunches more compact than Catawba; as early as Isabella and two weeks earlier than Catawba.
Herbemonts Madeira has ripened well this season, and does not belie its reputation; Long, and Louisa, and Union Village, very nearly ripe, have been placed before us by Mr. Samuel Miller. Louisa we like about as well as Isabella, though ripening better and a little earlier. With these comes a Foreigner, "Fruited finely in the open air for the two past years." This is sweet, and will be found to be a raisin grape, which we may make valuable among us. Heber, or Weber, - for we cannot make out the label, - is "new," and a promising fruit.
The most superb Catawba grapes we have ever seen have been laid on our table by R. Buchanan, Esq., of Cincinnati, marking the fact of their excellent crop of this season. From P. R. Freas,Esq., of the Germantown Telegraph, we have received very superb Concord bunches.