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.
Another season, still another desirable tree or plant might be taken in hand, and when ready for home planting, might be scattered broadcast among those who desire to possess it, and so the labor of love might go on as convenience, dictated, till the greater part of the gardens, however small, within a considerable circumference, would contain at least several of the most valuable, useful, and ornamental trees and shrubs for the climate.
The second means is, by what the nurserymen may do.
We are very well aware that the first thought which will cross the minds of a selfish and narrow minded nurseryman, (if any such read the foregoing paragraph,) is that such a course of gratutious distribution of good plants, on the part of private persons, will speedily ruin his business. But he was never more greatly mistaken, as both observation and reason will convince him. Who are the nurseryman's best oustomers? That class of men who have long owned a garden, whether it be half a rood or many acres, who have never planted trees - or, if any, have but those not worth planting! Not at all His best customers are those who have formed a taste for trees by planting them, and who, having got a taste for improving, are seldom idle in the matter, and keep pretty regular accounts with the dealers in trees. If you cannot get a person who thinks he has but little time or taste for improving his place to buy trees, and he will accept a plant, or a fruit tree, or a shade tree, now and then, from a neighbor whom he knows to be "curious in such things" - by all means, we say to the nurseryman, encourage him to plant at any rate and all rates.
If that man's tree turns out to his satisfaction, be is an amateur, one only beginning to pick the shell, to be sure - but an amateur full fledged by-and-bye. If he once gets a taste for gardening downright - if the flavor of his own Rareripes touch his palate but once, as something quite different from what he has always, like a contented, ignorant donkey, bought in the market - if his Malmaison rose, radiant with the sentiment of the best of French women, and the loveliness of intrinsic bud-beauty once touches his hitherto dull eyes, so that the scales of his blindness to the fact that one rose " differs from another," fell off forever - then we say thereafter, he is one of the nurseryman's best customers. Begging is both too slow and too dependent a position for him, and his garden soon fills up by ransacking the nurserymen's catalogues, and it is more likely to be swamped by the myriad of things which he would think very much alike, (if he had not bought them by different appellations,) than by any empty spaces waiting for the liberality of more enterprising cultivators.
And thus, if the nurseryman can satisfy himself with our reasoning that he ought not object to the amateur's becoming a gratuitous distributor of certain plants, we would persuade him for much the same reason, to follow the example himself. No person can propagate a tree or plant with so little cost, and so much ease, as one whose business it is to do so. And we may add, no one is more likely to know the really desirable varieties of trees or plants, than he is. No one so well knows as himself, that the newest things - most zealously sought after at high prices - are by no means those which will give the most permanent satisfaction in a family garden. And accordingly, it is almost always the older and well-tried standard trees and plants - those that the nurseryman can best afford to spare, those that he can grow most cheaply, - that he would best serve the diffusion of popular taste by distributing gratis. We think it would be best for all parties if the variety were very limited - and we doubt whether the distribution of two valuable hardy trees or climbers for five years, or till they became so common all over the surroundings as to make a distinct feature of embellishment, would not be more serviceable than disseminating a larger number of species.
It may appear to some of our commercial readers, an odd recommendation to urge them to give away precisely that which it is their business to sell - but we are not talking at random, when we say most confidently, that such a course, steadily pursued by amateurs and nurserymen throughout the country, for ten years, would increase the taste for planting, and the demand for trees, five hundred fold.
The third means is by what the Horticultural Societies may do.
We believe there are now about forty Horticultural Societies in North America. Hitherto they have contented themselves, year after year, with giving pretty much the same old schedule of premiums for the best cherries, cabbages, and carnations, all over the country - till the stimulus begins to wear out - somewhat like the effects of opium or tobacco, on confirmed habitues. Let them adopt our scheme of popularising the taste for horticulture, by giving premiums of certain select small assortments of standard fruit trees, ornamental trees, shrubs, and vines, (purchased by the society of the nurserymen,) to the cultivators of such small gardens - suburban door-yards - or cottage enclosures, within a distance of ten miles round, as the inspecting committee shall decide to be best worthy, by their air of neatness, order and attention, of such premiums. In this way, the valuable plants will fall into the right hands; the vender of trees and plants will be directly the gainer, and the stimulus given to cottage gardens, and the spread of the popular taste, will be immediate and decided.
"Tall oaks from little acorns grow" - is a remakably trite aphorism, but one, the truth of which no one who knows the aptitude of our people, or our intrinsic love of refinement and elegance, will under-rate or gain-say. If, by such simple means as we have here pointed out, our great farm on this side of the Atlantic, with the water privilege of both oceans, could be made to wear a little less the air of Ganada-thistle-dom, and show a little more sign of blossoming like the rose, we should look upon it as a step so much nearer the millennium. In Saxony, the traveller beholds with no less surprise and delight, on the road between Wiessenfels and Halle, quantities of the most beautiful and rare shrubs and flowers, growing along the foot-paths, and by the sides of the hedges which line the public promenades. The custom prevails there, among private individuals who have beautiful gardens, of annually planting some of their surplus materiel along these public promenandes, for the enjoyment of those who have no gardens.