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.
Errors of the Press must be forgiven in the hurry of new beginners, and the absence of the editor. We doubt not some few of the last pages of the July number were Greek instead of Latin to some of our readers; errors of this kind are not indispensable, and it is hoped may not occur again. Leaving an unpleasant subject, let us make up for errors of omission. The proceedings of various Societies were received too late for notice, and others were crowded out by attempting a full report of the Pennsylvania Society; the Horticulturist was a month in arrears with this Society, but being now all square will hereafter occupy less space with a local affair.
Dear Sir: Your "Working Gardener" correspondent m the January number of the Horticulturist, does not appear to be familiar with the rules and regulations of the " Pensylvania Horticultural Society." It is emphatically a gardener's society, aided by the wealthy and intelligent citizens of Philadelphia. There are one or more working gardeners on all the flower, fruit and vegetable committees. The committee of arrangement are all practical gardeners, who subdivide the general committee on exhibtions. The prize schedule is revised by a majority of gardeners. So that his sentence, " As gardeners have no direct influence with the gentlemen of those Societies" can in no way apply to that of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. We have seen as fine fruit in America as we ever saw in Europe, (Pine-apples excepted.) Show plants cannot, yet,be grown here as in England. Where are our Ericas, Fuchsias, Pimeleas, Epacris and many others? When your " working gardener" has a few of our summer suns over his head, he will find that plants go off in a night like the gourd of history.
In England too, there are 100 growers and 50 competitors for one in the United States. It will also be another half century before any of our lady amateurs will pay 4500 for a few plants to take to a show, as has been done in the vicinity of London. R. Buist. Rosedule Nurseries, Philadelphia, Jan. 16,1852.
Our matter relating to these Societies, some of which had been laid over for a month, has gone with every thing else. Wo remember having notices of the American Institute, Progressive Gardeners' Society, Yonkers Horticultural Society, Hartford Horticultural Society, Genesee Valley Society, and several others. We should be glad to replace them if we could.
P. B. Mead, Esq.: As you have thought my remarks upon the above worthy of notice, I beg to offer a few more. One of the objects of these Societies I take to be (or should be) to encourage the raising of superior vegetables for human use.
I beg to protest against the vulgar mammoth standard which seems to be set up. I deny that the man that shows the biggest pumpkin is necessarily the best gardener, or that his pumpkin must be "the cheese." As a rule, the medium-sized kinds of vegetables are the best for table use. Largeness, for the variety, is usually indicative of excellence, but largeness per se is not. The Dwarf Cabbage is better than the Ox-heart; the Savoy than the Drumhead; Horn Carrot than the Orange, etc.
Setting up so low a standard must have a tendency to prevent improvement in taste in consumers, and taste for improvement in producers. So long as the public will eat cattle Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Corn, and Cabbage, the gardeners will not trouble themselves to raise any thing better.
I deny the capability of judges to tell the quality of vegetables by a glance at them in the raw state.
I protest against superior, delicate varieties of fruit being damned because they will not "market" It is, of course, a very important point for growers for that purpose to look after, but not for others. It would be about as reasonable to recommend private growers to cultivate gourds instead of melons, because they would stand pitching out of two-story windows.
The grower** name should be attached to each lot exhibited, or, at any rate, if the prizes are for collections, let it be fairly so understood, and save growers the trouble of competing, as they have not usually the long purses necessary for fancy marketing, or the spare time for begging tours. Brooklyn.
March 11, 1861.
[Brooklyn, as usual, makes some good'points. Cattle roots might very well be banished from Horticultural Societies such as the Brooklyn, and left to Agricultural Societies, which might fitly encourage them. The gardener, being confined to human roots, would naturally endeavor to produce them with size and excellence combined. Competent and experienced judges can generally approximate to the comparative excellence of vegetables by a careful examination, there being certain points which indicate quality even in the crude state; but the best test of the "pudding is in the eating" Some delicious varieties of fruits will not " market" well; they should not, for this reason alone, be condemned, but be confined to amateurs. The "marketing" however, is too important a point to be overlooked. The case would be fully met by offering prizes for both, not losing sight of quality, however, in either. The growers' name should always be attached to each lot after the judges have made their examination. This is commonly neglected, and is a source of vexation to visitors.
Every article should also have its proper name attached, as many go to exhibitions to learn the names of plants. - Ed].