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 arrangements made for the display of horticultural products at Saratoga were decidedly the worst we have ever seen made at any State Fair in this State, since the first. All preparations seem to have been postponed until the last moment. Then, by some accident, the tent failed to arrive; the first day was rainy, and those exhibitors who had arrived with their articles from a distance were compelled to remain two days before they could open or unpack them. Of course, many of the most mature fruits and perishable flowers were ruined. But this was not all: when the tent was raised, there was a perfect scramble for places, and the staging erected was found not more than half extensive enough to admit of the proper display of the objects brought for exhibition; large quantities of both fruits and flowers were consequently never shown, and confusion and disappointment for a time reigned supreme.
We are sorry for this backward step of our great Society, because it has certainly given it a severe blow; and there was no excuse whatever for it, but downright carelessness on the part of those whose duty it was to see the arrangements made. We hope for better in the future; but really, until there be among the directors of this Society at least one man as much interested in horticulture as there are now many in other departments, we can not hope to see a well ordered horticultural display at our State Fairs.
The managers of the Society must be well aware that Floral Hall has always been among the leading attractions of these Fairs. Let any one watch the crowd entering the gates, and they will see a steady stream moving toward the tent of fruits and flowers. That seems to be the great center; and the reason why it is so, is that the articles there displayed are far more rare and, to the multitude, more interesting than the finest Shorthorns or Devons, or Shanghae fowls, or Black Hawk horses. These are all special departments, and have their special admirers; but every man, woman, and child, who enters the gates, loves fruits and flowers, and knowing or supposing that the finest in the State are assembled in Floral Hall, there they must first go.
If this department of the orchard and the garden be allowed to dwindle down, and finally die out, as it evidently will under the present system, these State Fairs, will be divested of one of their most interesting features, as the receipts will soon give evidence. By sustaining it well, the Society will not merely consult its own interests, but it will assist greatly in educating the public taste, and in promoting a branch of culture which has a most important bearing upon the prosperity of the country. The horticultural department of the State Agricultural Society has never been well managed, for the reason, we suppose, as we have already stated, that no one in its councils has felt more than the general interest in the subject which all intelligent farmers and country gentlemen feel. It was stated at Saratoga, by a gentleman who should know, and who is very accurate in his statements, that one season the Floral Hall cost about $1,000, and the same season the horticultural premiums offered amounted to about $17, all told 1
But after all, the show was a good one - in many respects one of the best the Society has yet made. The display of fruit was exceedingly interesting and instructive. Visitors, as they passed around, seemed at once surprised and delighted. It afforded very gratifying evidence of the progress we are making in fruit culture. Many of the collections were rare and valuable, the specimens unusually fine, and, with a few exceptions, accurately named and tastefully exhibited.
Among amateurs, the collection of D. T. Vail, Esq., of Troy, had no rival; it embraced gome eighty varieties of pears, remarkably well grown, and including many of the finest new sorts - such as Duchesse d'Orleans,, Beurr'e d'Anjou, Beurr's Superfin, etc. Probably no other amateur cultivator in this State could bring forward such a collection.
The nurserymen made a very spirited and creditable display. Messrs. Hovey & Co., of Boston, sent a fine collection of 150 varieties of pears. This, we believe, was the only foreign contribution. Messrs. A. Saul & Co., of Newburgh; Wilson, Thorburn, & Teller, of Albany; Thorp, Smith, Hanchett, & Co., of Syracuse; John Morse, of Cayuga; T. C.
Maxwell & Co., of Geneva; A. Frost & Co., G. H. Cherry & Co., and Ellwamger & Barey, of Rochester; all contributed largely. John J, Thomas, of Macedon, presented a handsome collection. Among his pears we observed a dish of Washington - very beautiful - the finest we have seen. N. & E. S. Hayward, of Brighton, as usual, made a fine display of apples, peaches, and grapes.
There was a strong competition for the premiums offered for select assortments - such as the best 20,12, 6, etc., of the various fruits.
Of peaches there were few. Mr. Morse, of Cayuga, and the Messrs. Hayward, of Brighton, had small collections. It was also too late for plums, but Mr. E. Dorr, of Albany, had a nice collection of 12 or 14 varieties; Mr. Bennett, of Mechanicsville, a small collection; and Ellwanger & Barry, some 14 varieties.
In the way of flowers, Mechanicsville made the most numerous contributions. Mrs. E. L. E. Smith, of that place, presented a very handsome named collection of Dahlias, including some fine new sorts. Mrs. T. Mabbett, Mrs. Samuel Lewis, Mrs. J. M. Smith, Mrs. Geo. Warren, and Mrs. P. Bennett, all of Mechanicsville, contributed flowers, boquets, and floral ornaments, in profusion. WM.. Newcomb made a showy display of Asters.
Among nurserymen, the largest contributors were Jonathan Batty, of Keeseville; Jas. "Wilson, of Albany; and Messrs. Frost & Co., and Ellwanger & Barry, of Rochester.
The best collections of Roses, Verbenas, etc., were from a distance, and had all suffered much from carriage; beside, there was not space enough to arrange them to appear well. We regretted to see good things crowded off the stands to make way for mere rubbish, and to see valuable space occupied with objects miscalled floral ornaments, anything but ornamental.