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.
Instances like this are not so rare as our readers may suppose. New York has but lately been supplied with grapes from Croton Point, by a gentleman of enterprise and good taste, to whom it might, in our opinion, be as just to award a gold medal by Congress, as to the hero of a bloody battle.
Of late years, the attention of gardeners and amateurs has been much attracted to the cultivation of dwarf fruit trees. The advantages proposed to be attainable are, a greater variety of fine fruit in a small space, and bringing the trees at an earlier date into active bearing. The latter suits our American wish to go-a-head; we cannot wait for a fruit tree, in the old mode of growth, for five or ten years - a life time in the United States. We must have fruit the next year, at the latest; and though there are other advantages attained by the dwarfing system, this rapid product has its attractions to the young and old Rapids who are forming orchards and gardens. You can now go to a nursery in the spring, order your fail fruits, and grow them yourself; you say, "Duchesse d'Orleans," "Beurre Bote," "Winter Nelis," "Moorpark," "Coe's Transparent," and so forth, adding, " but be sure they are trees that will produce the present season." The nursery owner winks his left eye as an evidence that he understands the kind of customer on hand, and selects his trees accordingly. If they do not bear very heavy crops the first year, a little is better than none; the second and third they will amply reward the amateur.
One nursery in the State of New York actually disposed of fruit trees the past season to the value of one hundred thousand dollars ! Pretty good evidence this, if any were wanted, that we are becoming a fruitgrowing nation. And why not? The utility is argument enough; the profit is a still stronger inducement.
Every kind of instruction in the art and mystery of fruit-growing may now be obtained from American books, without resorting to French, Belgian, or English authors, who have heretofore misled us, because we overlooked the differences of climate, and so forth. The late Mr. Downing, whom all horticulturists loved as a brother, led the way in our country to the development of our capabilities in taste and the luxuries of the garden ; to him will always be conceded the first rank in these respects; in him we lost our instructor, guide, and friend. Incomplete his instructions may have been, for he had much in store to tell us; let us be grateful for what he imparted, and follow his example. He has been succeded by others equally practical: Barry's Fruit Garden, and Thomas' American Fruit Culturist, are eminently instructive. The "Transactions of the American Pomological Society" should be in the hands of every lover of fruits; it contains lists of the best kinds suited to every locality, and without it the beginner would commit numerous mistakes by selecting trees that have been popular, but are proved, on trial, of inferior value.
Reading on these subjects we consider essential; books, however, rarely tell all that one wants to know of a practical subject, and the amateur will do well to observe the proceedings of a successful neighbor regarding the cultivation and trimming, so essential in modern fruit-growing.
We have in this country several enthusiastic amateurs, whose great pleasure it is to enlighten their fellow citizens. Among them it will be proper to name William D. Brinckle, M. D., of Philadelphia; Professor J. P. Kirtland, of Cleveland, Ohio; the Hon. Marshall P. Wilder, of Massachusetts; Dr. Eshleman, of Pennsylvania; Nicholas Longworth, of Cincinnati; and a host of others, who, by their enlightened science and liberal views, are sowing broadcast the results of their labors and discoveries, and conferring benefits on America which future generations will amply appreciate. These gentlemen take out no patents; it is their greatest pleasure, when they have discovered by hybridizing or any other means a valuable production, to diffuse it among their countrymen, happy themselves if they can benefit others. A miser, in horticulture, is an unknown animal. Horticultural societies are now diffused throughout the length and breadth of our land; even New York city, amidst her lumber of bales and boxes from Europe and the east, has found time and space to have her own "Transactions" in horticultural science.
There is taste enough lying dormant among her citizens to give her a first position in this respect, and we are not sure but that her own vicinity has advantages for such pursuits beyond any of her sisters. The constant arrival of steamships from every climate, affords the opportunity of the early reception (in Ward's cases, or other modes,) of plants, seeds, and trees; and the demand for fruit, flowers, and vegetables within her own limits, must be the best on the continent Let her infant society persevere, as indeed there cannot be a doubt that it will. Philadelphia and Boston are "ahead" of her in this respect, but when did she ever run a race in which she was not in the advance at last ? She has private conservatories, and public nurseries, that rival those of her neighbors, and at this moment the State furnishes a large portion of the trees demanded by the commerce in these valuable articles.
It would be ungracious to close an article without naming the pleasure and profit to be derived from the successful culture of a kitchen garden. Here we must again mention our friend who rejoiced in his first successful experiment in celery. He continues his supply of that delicious vegetable, but hearing a European gardener make the true remark that Americans in the country never worked or employed their time to full advantage in the winter, he set himself to consider what article of consumption would best pay for outlay, at a season when nature declines, without assistance, to yield her fruits to man. Asparagus seemed to promise this result. After a trial, in a small way, he now forces this article on an extensive scale. His calculation is, that ten families at least, will give a dinner party every day, and be glad to give him a dollar each for this delicious dish out of season; if they do, and beyond a doubt they will, his winter beds of asparagus alone will more than pay for all his manure and wages for the year!
To those who design to make the most of their vegetable gardens, we especially recommend the perusal - not once only, but often - of McMahon's Kitchen Gardener. Abridgments are numerous, but experience has convinced us that it is the best work issued from the American press. Ample evidence of the diffusion of a taste for the subjects on which we have delivered a brief discourse, is afforded by the large sale of books exclusively devoted to Arboriculture and Horticulture; a second edition of those six beautiful volumns of Michaux & Nuttall on American Trees is now in press; the Horticulturist has thousands of eager subscribers, and other periodicals are equally successful. The readers of such works must have science and enthusiasm on their topics, but their intelligence does not stop here. The agricultural interest of New York is just now roused to the great want of their State, and they are urging on their Legislature the publication of an accurate map of the State, with definite information as to the products and population of every county, for the use of schools and private persons.
Such an example will not be lost on other States. New York will in this be the pioneer, as she has so often been in other things, and will complete what she began in her scientific explorations.