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.
This intended establishment was first mooted amongst the members of this society, aided by the energetic determination of its worthy president, A. J. S. Degraw, Esq., and has met with such favorable support from Mr. Hunt, Mr. Langley and others, that they have now at their disposal $100,000, and eighteen acres of land gratis. The chosen committee for carrying out the object have offered a premium of $250 for the best design for laying out the grounds, and at the above meeting there were exhibited two well-drawn plans, one from Mr. Augustus Hepp, and the other from Mr. Graef. An opinion upon such matters ought to be supported by practical acquaintance with the details, a thorough knowledge of the subject, and disinterestedness in the concern or the competitors; taking this view of it I do not hesitate to speak out plainly. The plans are both pretty pictures, well executed upon paper, but each wanting in generalities. Mr. Graef's is little more than a diversified promenade on a monstrous principle, while Mr. Hepp's, to a great extent, is misapplied utility.
We want for such an establishment, utility, and promenade, and grandeur combined, the whole to be easily instructive, so that the student of science, or the lover of nature may each receive enjoyment, yet at the same time to be partly self-supporting, and afford pleasant walks, secluded nooks, and a spacious area for display; such is not collected into either of the designs; both gentlemen might do well to take the hint.
In conclusion, Mr. Editor, allow me to say that the untiring perseverance of the worthy president and his co-workers has been the means of instilling energy into the surrounding districts, and if other parts of the country are not up and doing they will be left in the back-ground.
Although there is now no prospect of success, yet I feel as one personally called upon to give an opinion on the subject in reply to the before-mentioned article.
Far from being agitated by contentious feelings, I could not overlook' the words, "the plans are both pretty pictures, well executed on paper, but each wanting in generalities".
Certainly, such matters ought to be closely looked into, and guided by the opinions of men who have had actual experience in, and possess a thorough knowledge of, the subject to be investigated, and all sensible men would be pleased as well as profited by a well-founded, well-directed criticism; but, it requires more self-conceit than I would like to be possessed with, to assume such unquestionable authority as is expressed in that article.
I must confess that I am ignorant of what is meant by "wanting in generalities," or where, and to what extent, "misapplied utility" has made itself apparent; as others, who are well informed respecting it, have not discovered any serious misapplication, and I entertain considerable doubt as to my friend being more successful, were he to undertake an examination with more leisure. A picture maybe judged at a glance - this claims no merit as such - but a plan of so different a nature and purpose, that it oftentimes requires a competent person a day or more to give a correct opinion of it, and calls for mental acquirements different from those available to the author of that article, although his knowledge and qualifications may be, and are, very valuable in their proper place.
Although it is not an easy task to delineate with sharp lines what a botanical garden should be, to answer the wishes of so many, and the purposes indicated by its name, it is more than likely that, with a love for the profession, fifteen years' uninterrupted practice, and facilities to see, compare, and examine, on the continent of Europe, one should know something of what a botanical garden should embrace, and what experience I have had here is sufficient to inform me what the Hunt Botanical Garden should have been, had net an ill-tempered wind swept it from the map of Long Island.
I perfectly agree with your correspondent, that it should be adapted to the wants of this great nation, notwithstanding that, with a fair recollection of what has transpired in the cause of horticulture within the last ten years, and a moderate estimate of what will yet follow, I believe I have been little or nothing out of the way.
It would require too much space in your valuable journal, neither would it be interesting to your readers to enter into details, describing the various departments as laid down on that picture, but my friend may rest assured, that, considering its location, formation, and area (11 1/2 acres), the plan comprises all that is desirable to have.
"Nooks" are very pleasant and attractive acquisitions in all sorts of pleasure-grounds, if properly situated and sheltered, but I should have little hope of complete success were I to denote their exact position on a plan where the ground has but few or no trees left under which to seek shelter. I prefer rather to form, first, the principal features of the ground, and after having completed the grading, planting, etc, the most appropriate spots for nooks, etc. etc., will suggest themselves, and in each case with certainty of success.
I cannot close this article without remarking, that while I take exceptions to the criticisms of my friend, I must say that much credit is due to him for his exertions and success in grape culture, etc., in acknowledgment of which, I shall lose no opportunity of strengthening our friendly relations.
If the spirited officers of the late Hunt Botanical. Garden Association should succeed in calling a similar enterprise into life (which I sincerely hope, and have no doubt they will), I shall not omit to contribute what I may deem due to so praiseworthy an object, and shall be pleased to find others doing the same.
Respectfully yours, Augustus Hepp, 880 Broadway, N. Y.