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.
Having opened the Horticulturist for June, and examined some of the valuable articles therein, Mercury, my old mentor, hinted the propriety of spending another hour in the vineyard for 1861. How changed is the scene and the times from those in which I penned my last "Hour;" for then, the beautiful valley in which I reside was calm and peaceful as a "summer's lake;" now the sound of martial music and the mustering of armies are heard all around me. From many a house, and battlement, if I may use the expression, the "stars and stripes' float in the balmy breeze; so that, although Man may feel and act the warrior Nature smiles in peace over all her works.
But let us talk of the vineyard, and the young vine. This is the season here, when the air is fragrant with the blossom of the vine; and although many of your correspondents seem to indulge their fancy in hunting for, and eulogizing new vines, from the Delaware down to the latest one unchristened and unnamed, I for one love to spend a few passing hours with my old favorites and old friends, the Isabellas and Catawbas, whose shade has so often sheltered me from the summer's sun, and whose luscious fruit has so frequently added a finer relish to the pleasures of life. I regret, my dear editor, that you do not live within a hundred miles of the vineyard, and that there is no railroad line stretching its iron rails from our humble home to your city palace; for if there were, then you might enjoy with me in the summer's eve, a goblet of the juice of the grape, more luscious and more nutritious than Byron's "Hock and Soda Water".
But I am wandering from my subject, and make all apologies for the digression.
My residence is in about the fourth parallel of north latitude, on the bank of the White Water, and my vineyard is situated on a small mound, which some antiquarians think was the work of the Mound Builders of the West. Be this as it may, a thousand years must have passed over its summit since the first handful of earth was thrown upon it; for the mouldering remains of majestic oaks and stately walnuts attest the fact; while the red man's traditions afford no clew to the abode of the original builder.
Situated, as I before stated, in the 40th parallel, I wish to inform you and your countless readers, the effects of the late winter on my orchard and vineyard.
The mercury seldom fell below zero last season, although for a few days at separate times it went as low as 10° below this point; but I find no injury done to the vine, of which I have some forty varieties. The fruit buds opened beautifully in spring, and the rich blossom holds out the prospect of an abundant vintage. Growing side by side, I have the Catawba, Isabella, Diana, Clinton, Madeira, Concord, and White Fox, not one of which has, so far, shown the least signs of mildew, blight, or any other disease, but each and all are full of embryo clusters of grapes. I have the Delaware, E1 Passo, Anna, Rebecca, Clara, Herbe-mont, and Union Village, doing well for young vines; with a vine called the " Wellington," which I received from Canada, whose bunches are reported to average three pounds each, making excellent growth. All of these, during the winter, I covered with leaves and earth, to protect them from the cold, so that when I opened the border in spring, they were all alive and ready for action.
Having tried patiently for several years the culture of the European winegrape in the open air, I am forced to acknowledge it a failure, and the vines worthless for this latitude.
My plum and peach trees are full of fruit, and what is strange, I have seen but one curculio this season up to date. Strawberries abundant to satiety; raspberries and blackberries, prospect extremely good, and gooseberries and currants more than abundant.
Your beautiful plate of the "Anna" in the June number, I much admire, and having a seedling grape of my own, which I named the "Anna" some year or two before I heard of the one you refer to, I will watch their development with much care and attention; and as I have several seedlings that should fruit next season, should we survive the war, and the Union be sustained, I may pass another hour in the vineyard, and report the result of our labors.
Although an amateur in Horticulture, I am thought much of an enthusiast in grape vines. I have been searching for some time for a white or yellow grape, equal in size and quality to the Sweet Water, and for such have offered premiums through our Agricultural Society, but found no native grape of a similar quality and size. '
Nor could I find a black or blue grape, equal in size and superior in quality to the Catawba; and if any of your readers have either a white, yellow, or red, or blue grape that will fill the bill, I will be glad to have specimens sent to my address, per express, at my expense, and a reciprocation of favors will follow.
I have some seedlings that show excellent indications of valuable fruit, but until next season nothing certain can be ascertained. I look upon the Delaware as one of our most excellent of grapes, but the size of the bunch and berry is not so large as is wanted; and so far as my experience goes, it is not a strong growing vine. My "Anna" is a strong grower; berry, white but small; leaf, five-lobed; not tomentose in excess, but like the Black Hamburg when young, and getting coarser with age; vine, five years old from the seed last season.
Wishing a long life and happy exit, through a vale of roses whose leaves are dipped in the otto of the wine, I subscribe myself your friend.
[You have enjoyed an immunity, in respect to your Isabellas and Catawbas, which very few can boast of. Yours is almost a solitary instance, and must be owing to something peculiarly favorable in your position or locality. We do not wonder, therefore, that you can pass an "hour" so pleasantly in your vineyard; we wish we were near enough by to enjoy it with you. With only 10° below zero, you had not much to fear: here we registered 30° below. We should be delighted to see one of those three-pound bunches. Can you send us the name of your Canadian friend? Your experience with the European grape has been that of all others who have attempted its growth. Plenty of peaches, plums, strawberries, blackberries, etc., and only one curculio! Surely you must be living in a land of promise. We think there can be no doubt of your passing another "Hour in the Vineyard," and shall therefore hope to have the pleasure of seeing your seedlings. In the meantime, since we have one Anna, we would suggest that you change the name of yours to Emma, or some other pretty name, provided the grape proves to be sufficiently good. We think Allen's Hybrid will fully answer, and even exceed the requirements of your prize grape.
We prefer both the Anna and the Cuyahoga to the Sweetwater. You may expect to get some grapes in the fall that will satisfy you on both points. The Delaware is not a coarse grower, but we think it is fully entitled to be called a strong grower; a feeble growing vine will certainly not bear the extremes which the Delaware is known to endure with impunity. We reciprocate heartily all your good wishes. Speak oftener, so that we may become more and more familiar with the sound of your voice. - Ed].