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.
Although but a recent subscriber to your valuable periodical, I have been an interested reader of it for some two years past, and I venture to offer an article for publication in it, if you think it will prove acceptable to your subscribers.
I am a native of the valley of the Mohawk, and have spent some thirty years of my life in it; but for the last twelve years have been a resident of Habersham county, Ga., a section of country comparatively little known at the north. My chief intention is to give your readers a short history of its location, geological forma-tion, its native fruits, flowers, etc. Habersham county lies in the northwest corner of the State, and mostly on the first steppe of the Allegany range of mountains, some 3000 foet above the ocean level; its climate is unequaled for salubrity in the Uuited States, the thermometer rarely rising in midsummer to 90° during the day, and at night usually about 60°, while our winters arc mild, with but little frost and snow; and now, while writing this, I am sitting in my room with the sashes up and the door open. Our summer nights are delightful and cool, so that one always needs a blanket when sleeping, for covering. Billious fever, that scourge of the south, never intrudes here, nor the insinuating consumption of the north; consequently Habersham is a place of resort for the rice and cotton planters of the lower portion of the state.
The soil is poor upon the hills and upland, and in the vallies and bottoms, rich and productive, and composed of the elements of granite, the primitive formation of the mountains here. No
Farming is conducted very rudely, but is improving, owing to the influence of agricultural papers and societies. I wish you could see a southern plough, such as are used here in the mountains. It would be a great curiosity to a New York farmer, were he to find one in the road. I am sure he could not tell for what use it was intended, or to what nation of people it belonged.
In this county is situated the far-famed falls of Tallulah, and the beautiful fall of Toccoa, both worth a trip across the Atlantic to be seen in the month of June, when thousands of Rhododendrons, Kalmias and other flowers and shrubs which surround, are in bloom; and were some of your experienced manufacturers, only to see the number of splendid water-falls here, wasting their power in obscurity, and as it were, inviting and tempting them to come and use them, almost for the using alone, they would, I think, forthwith be off to Georgia, notwithstanding the great bug-bear to northerners, Negro slavery.
The forests are almost unlimited in extent, as the country has been settled but about 35 years, with a present population of 8000 whites. The forests are composed of say 8 or 10 kinds of Oaks, the same of Firs, Chestnut, Hickory, Walnut, Poplar, Gum, Birch, Holly, etc. Wild grapes abound here; Fox grapes and Muscadines without number, in this and the adjoining counties of Rabun and Union; and by the way, we have three varieties of native grapes that possibly may prove valuable for cultivation. One of them is a large white grape, about the size of the Isabella, but sweeter. Another, a red grape about the same size, a little more acid, and the other a small white grape about the size of nerbemont's Madeira. None of them are known, except in the neighborhood, where they are still growing wild in the coves of the mountains. I am unable to give the botanical character, as I have never seen them when in flower. I have them all in process of domestication, and will if desirable give you the results.
Foreign grapes thus far do well. We have the white Burgundy,white Muscat and some others, all which grow in the open air; the rot occaand apricots. Last year we thought to be rid of his presence, as the previous year we had a frost in April, which killed all the fruit. We had neither apples, pears, plums, peaches, nor anything else in the fruit line, within 50 miles of us. But lo! this year, "Monsieur Ton-son come again," and more than ever. Where did he come from? Not from the fruit that fell from the trees the year previous, for we had none.
We have some fifty varieties of your best northern apples, and as many of pears, all which succeed very well. Also some fine native apples; and I should like to send you, (if the distance was not so great,) a barrel of them, to compare with your Newtown Pippins and Spitzenburghs, etc. Much attention is being paid, for a few years past, to the cultivation of fruits - and this county can probably boast a larger variety than all the rest of the state together. Thus far, cherries do not succeed, from the splitting of the bark when about three years old; the cause we cannot ascertain. Some suppose it to be caused by the heat of the sun; I doubt it, as the temperature of summer is below that of Albany or New-York. Peaches flourish in perfection, and native trees do bet-than northern, of every description, and come into bearing sooner.
I intended to say something about our southern shrubs and flowers, when I began, but as this article has reached such a length, I fear if I should say anything more, you will not print it, and if you should, your subscribers will not read it; so will defer it for another time. Yours respectfully. J. Van Buren. Clarksville, Ga., Jan. 23, 1851. -------Native Bone Earth. - The discovery has been made, recently, of an "inexhaustible quantity" of native phosphate of lime, near Dover, New-Jersey. It has been analyzed by Dr. Chilton, Prof. Mapes and Dr. Antisell, separately, and pronounced by them to be superior as a manure, to the bone dust usually sold in New York market. The legislature of New-Jersey, we understand, passed a bill last winter, chartering a company for working this mineral manure and putting it into market ponds to the expectation formed from the published analyses, it will be in great demand for grain crops and fruit trees - especially pears.