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.
Last summer, in looking over a small orchard of Dwarf Pear-trees planted in the spring of 1857, I made the following hasty notes in regard to the vigor and general appearance of the different varieties. From the trees having had only three seasons' growth since planting, and there being in most cases but two or three of each variety, these notes must possess much less value than were it otherwise; and the future will no doubt show that some kinds which are now growing beautifully and promise to be perfectly successful on the Quince, are not to be relied upon for permanent trees; for it is now very well known that many kinds of the Pear will grow on the Quince as well as could be desired a number of years, and then, for some unaccountable reason, cease to thrive, and in a year or two, despite all the care of the most experienced cultivator, "go the way of all the earth." It is, indeed, this fact, as well as planting on improper soil, negligent pruning, and want of cultivation which has so frequently caused those who have not had sufficient experience in the matter, to raise the cry of ** humbug" against Dwarf Pear-trees. We have now a short list of varieties which have been thoroughly tested, and proven to be perfectly adapted to the quince stock; and no person who has a proper soil need fear failure in planting these kinds, if he will only give them the necessary attention afterwards.
Dwarf Pear-trees have become altogether too deeply rooted in the gardens and affections of almost all intelligent horticulturists of this country to need any defence from me against the attacks of those few who may have failed to be successful with them from local causes, their own ignorance, or neglect. I think that the most convincing proof of their value is to be obtained by visiting any of the fruit-gardens of this country where they have been introduced and carefully cultivated - looking at the beautiful "pyramids " loaded with fruit - generally fairer and better than can be grown on the " standard " - and then going to the nurseries, and seeing to what an extent the dwarf trees are propagated there in order to meet the rapidly increasing demand. One can not then fail to be convinced that dwarf trees are something of an "institution" after alt I did not intend, when I commenced this article, to say anything which might look like an attempt to reopen the "Dwarf Pear War," but I could not resist the temptation to say a few words for dear favorites of mine which I have sometimes seen most shamefully slandered.
Having myself often felt the want of information in regard to the growth of different varieties of the Pear on Quince stock, I am led to make the following imperfect notes on the subject public, hoping in that way to induce others also to give their experience; so that in a short time we may have reliable information in regard to the habit of growth, and success or failure on quince, of almost every variety cultivated in the country. Such information would certainly "be very valuable, especially to those who may be planting large specimen orchards, and of course desire to know what varieties to set on quince and what on pear stock. We need very much a list of the pears cultivated in this country, classified under the heads of "those which do remarkably well on quince," "those which thrive moderately," and "those which should not be dwarfed unless double-worked."It is to be hoped that the "Horticultural Societies " will take this matter in hand, and give us a complete list as soon as possible.
The following are the notes as taken last summer. The ground on which these trees are planted is a strong clayey loam, with a clay subsoil; it is quite moist, though drained so that water does not stand about the roots. Before planting it was deeply plowed with a three-horse plow; never has been subsoiled, though probably it would have been much better for it. The trees were carefully planted, and had a heavy mulching of long manure, which has been renewed every year since. The ground about them has been kept free from weeds and grass with the cultivator and hoe, and the trees have had a systematic pruning every spring, and some slight, though very little, "pinching in " during the summer. It will be seen that of 86 varieties, 78 are now doing well. The general appearance of the orchard is very encouraging.
This variety is probably unrivalled for dwarfing. It iuvariably grows vigorously, making a strong, healthy tree, and producing great crops of very fair fruit The upper shoots should be shortened severely, particularly while the tree is young, as it is inclined to run up, and not develop the side branches sufficiently. Of over one hundred trees of this kind, there is not one which is not perfectly vigorous and healthy.
This is another of those kinds which seem perfectly at home on the quince; always grows freely, forms a handsome tree, and produces great crops of very large and handsome pears, which are of much better quality than those of the same variety on the standard. Every tree of this variety is doing well.
Another of the best varieties for the quince, equal in almost every respect to the preceding. Trees all growing finely. A few specimens produced this year.
This old favorite is one of the best, where the fruit does not crack; though, unfortunately, it is getting to be very uncertain in that respect even in the favored "valley of the Genesee." It makes a very symmetrical pyramid with about as little care as any other variety. Trees of this all doing well.
Pratt seems to be well suited to the quince. Trees growing vigorously, and forming handsome heads.
Qf three trees planted, two are looking yellow and making little or no growth; one is doing well.
Doing remarkably well so far; making handsome and thrifty trees; none better.