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.
A marked improvement has taken place within the period we are commenting on, in the character of the nursery business, and the nurserymen engaged in it. Not that all have become more honest, for there were many good men in the business before; but we allude to the correctness with which fruit-trees are named and sold. The kinds of fruits are now so much better known and understood, that to be successful, the nurseryman has to be correct; honesty is his best policy, as it is known to be in other matters; formerly, detection was more difficult, because neither the purchaser nor his neighbors could tell whether he had been deceived or not.
* To teach is to learn; according to an old experience, it is the very beet mode of learning - the sorest and the shortest. And hence, perhaps, it may be, that in the middle ages, by the monkish word scholaris was meant, indifferently, he that learned, and he that taught.
† It is a work of reference as well as for its regular monthly reading, that the Horticulturist is especially valuable. We have been much pleased to find the whole ten volumes extremely interesting, and cannot point out any other periodical work that bears a reperusal so well A complete set is a valuable possession, now rare.
One great benefit of the work was its calling forth the latent talent of numerous writers who had no suitable vehicle through which to communicate with kindred minds. In a pursuit where there should be no patents, and where but few are ever taken out, a pursuit the pleasure of which is so eminently enhanced by sympathy and association, it was to be expected that good and true disciples would be willing to distribute their information. It has so proved.
The example was highly beneficial to the farming interests throughout the States. In theory, the sister arts are the same; when this periodical taught the true modes of going to work, and that it could be conducted without petty jealousies and wranglings, the agricultural caught some of the tone and spirit of the horticultural mind; books on agriculture have multiplied immensely, and are read by thousands who have happily discarded the old opinion, that book knowledge was only fitted for what are called professional men; getting rid of that fancy is a great good. That horticulture is not as prominent or as popular a topic as agriculture, is proved by the great increase of periodicals on the latter, and the slow multiplication of the former. Various attempts have been made, almost yearly, to graft other horticultural periodicals on the public tree, but all of them have been unsuccessful; they lived a sickly, short-lived existence, got " the blight," and were cut down. So far, the Horticulturist, and Hovey's Magazine, the latter a forerunner of Downing's, are the sole representatives of their species in America.
We have alluded to the slow though regular increase of the patrons of this work; as we wish to have no concealments with our readers, we may again state that the increase in its circulation is steady and gratifying. More than a thousand additional names have been added since the year just expired tame in, when it was placed in the hands of the present publisher; the prospect is now certain that its patrons will number between five and six thousand before the close of the present volume.*
The custom pursued by the publishers of this work, is the true one to insure a wholesome circulation. At the expiration of the year, the subscription book is thrown aside, and a new one procured, in which the names are entered as payments are made, so that it is not sent, from year to year, to persons who do not desire to receive it; the publisher knows that all who get it, want it. This method is not the one which counts the largest number of subscribers, but, in a circle of readers extending over the whole Union, and even beyond it, this method is found to be the most satisfactory to all parties. We mention it now, because some regular readers did not understand their non-reception of the January number, and wrote to the editor to inquire.
It would be easy to prove that it is strongly the interest of men engaged in the sale of fruit and ornamental, trees, and flowers, to promote our circulation, because the more a taste is diffused for horticulture, the greater must be the demand for their products. When Lindley's Gardeners1 Chronicle was first issued, the most ignorant gardeners of England concluded that the more information given to the employer, the less would be the demand for their services I This absurd idea was easily dissipated, and time has amply proved its error. It has even been argued successfully, that it will answer a good purpose to the nurseryman to give away his products for a time, till neighborhoods have imbibed a taste for their possession. These are great steps in a forward direction.
* Some readers who have not taken the work from the commencement, are sometimes puzzled to know how the Horticulturist numbered ten volumes in nine and a half years. It commenced July 1,1846, but it was found, that to date from January to December was a more convenient arrangement to both subscriber and publisher, and the last six months of 1850, or half a year, was called a volume, for the purpose of commencing in January, 1851, with a new one; so. that, though this is the eleventh volume, to-day commences the decennial or tenth year of its existence. The original price was three dollars a year, without any colored edition, and with illustrations very inferior in execution to the present.
As Dr. Ward remarked, in his first article on the Culture of the Pear, "the rubbish is but just cleared away." This will apply to other horticultural topics; books are now multiplied on horticultural subjects to an extent that was unheard of ten years ago; we have separate reliable works on the Pear, the Grape, the Apple, the Peach, the Cherry, Strawberry, and even the Cranberry and Blackberry, and a handbook on Ornamental Trees, and many on Flowers and Gardening in genera]; these are so cheap as to be accessible to all, and most of them may date their existence to the taste created by the Horticulturist* Then we have the State and the Pomological reports, annually giving the collected wisdom of the most practical men, for reference and study; the newspapers, too, have taken up our topics; the ball set in motion, the discussion and comparison of facts has cleared the atmosphere; what is yet needed is doing, or to be done, by practical minds, leaving the Horticulturist to chronicle results rather than entirely to pioneer opinion, or more than suggest future action.
The rubbish being cleared away, Pomology an established science, and every year revealing its facts, the present and future course of this work is one of pleasure; the walks are dug, the stone drains laid, the gravel is placed and rolled, and we are in the position of visitors to a cultivated garden, with liberty to amuse and enjoy ourselves; to point out improvements annually, select our best fruits and most imposing trees and shrubbery, and as good fortune and science offer an opportunity, or bring something better, impart the knowledge to one's neighbors; the house is built, the dirt of the cellar is carted away, and, under these circumstances, the position of the resident is a pleasure rather than a task; such we feel it to be, and while we can count as many friends and interested contributors and readers as the last year has assembled around us, however incompetent to the whole scope of its duties,, we hope, and intend to be contented and happy in our chair.