Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and such might be made profitable by planting to timber. I say might, because, no matter how plausible the fashionable theories on this question may sound, we, as Pennsylvanians, are too fully aware of the many thousands of acres, in our State, now covered with the finest forest growth that the world has ever seen, to be infected with a timber mania. But says the advocate of some pet scheme for rapidly accumulating a fortune out of this belief, “ These forests are rapidly disappearing; and what then?” My answer would be, Yankee-like: "And so are the coal fields, &c.; but has the price of lumber increased very much of late years ?” In fact, is it not now lower than it has been for a long time? When our vast forests have become sufficiently exhausted, so as to make it an object to raise young trees, and that, too, upon land convenient to good markets, then will it be time to engage in the forestry business, but I fear it will prove a losing speculation before.

I make these remarks in all sincerity, and with no desire to discourage the planting of trees. Far be it from me to throw the least obstacle in the

way

of desires to engage in so laudable a pursuit, in a proper way, and for a reasonable purpose. My earnest desire is for every one to beware of the theoretical reasoning that may warp the judgment, and thus prove a financial source of trouble to those who may engage in the business of forest-planting, without due reflection. The question of

any one who

Flowers is one that may not be passed over without due consideration by our Society.

I am well aware that there exists to-day, as it always has existed in this country, a deep-seated yet unwarranted prejudice on the part of many against the adornment of our homes, therefore, as a part of our horticultural duty, in accordance with the requirements of our Constitution, we should endeavor to eradicate this belief, and in its stead create a love for the beautiful in nature. I have already given my views upon this subject upon more than one occasion at our annual meetings, and shall, therefore, not dwell upon it now for any length of time; but I desire to encourage every one to possess at least one bed of flowers, and during the long winter days adorn the windows with one or more flowering plants. Addressing myself to the owner of small door-yards, as in the matter of trees, here too let your wants be few. Never attempt an extensive and complicated design upon a limited space. A very small bed of flowers, neatly arranged, will create a far better effect than a long narrow border or several beds jumbled together without taste or system; and just here allow me to call your attention to the value of a well kept turf.

The modern lawn mower, in my estimation, has accomplished more good than any other implement in use on our cultivated grounds. It eradicates the weeds, thickens up the turf, and by returning to the soil the refuse clippings, imparts a rich dark green color to the lawn. Very few of our gardeners understood the use of the old-fashioned lawn scythe, and consequently very few handsome lawns were to be seen. The expense entailed by the frequent cutting to preserve a clean velvety appearance, deterred almost every one from attending to this duty as often as it was necessary, therefore, long grass was very generally the rule instead of the exception, as at the present time, in every well-regulated place. In selecting plants for our beds, are we not drifting too far from the old styles of gardening? Or in other words, are we not ignoring the claims of our many beautiful flowering plants for that class whose only merit is its brilliant foliage? I am aware there is much to be said on both sides of the question, but for plain, simple gardening, in limited grounds, my advice is to use the brightfoliaged plants, with extreme caution. With the possible exception of the Geranium, there are few flowers to be seen in the majority of our larger places, as the modern styles of ribbon-gardening and carpet-bedding, as they are aptly termed, will not admit of any plant whose beauty flags for a moment, and there are few species, but what will take a season of rest sometime during the summer months. The old mixed beds had at least one merit that should claim proper consideration at our hands, and that is by embracing a great variety of plants in one bed, without any specific syssystem of arrangement, there was at all times something in bloom, and the combination of colors was generally attractive, provided some little tact was exercised in using plants of stronger growth for a background, and the dwarfer kinds at the front. The modern system of sub-tropical bedding is highly meritorious in one point at least, for it has taken the very plants that our ancestors used indiscriminately and without any taste whatever, and by simply grouping such together in a proper locality, has converted into objects of beauty plants which in former years served only to remind us how remarkably coarse they were.

The Sunflowers and Castor beans, that flaunted their huge leaves along the garden fence during our boyhood days, are excellent examples of this character. Time and other questions warn me I must leave this, to me, fascinating subject, although I am aware I have not done it simple justice.

Natural Science.

One of the greatest benefits to be derived from an association such as this, is the lesson that may be learned from those among our members who have paid especial attention to the several departments of natural science. Each of these specialties exerts a wonderful influence upon the practical duties of horticulture, and explains many of the mysteries that we, as a class, are working in the dark to guard against.

What makes the humiliation yet more acute, is the fact that too many are disposed to ridicule the scientist in his work, and treat his explanations as the visions of an idle dreamer, or as the emanations of an egotistical mind. But the truth is the very reverse. The more intimately we become acquainted with the beautiful operations of nature, and the wonderful influence they exert upon the most common of our daily tasks, the more anxious we become to acquire additional knowledge in all that relates to the higher branches of scientific research. So far as botany is concerned, (the department of natural history, that probably exerts a greater influence upon borticulture than any other,) there can be no reasonable doubt in regard to its efficiency and usefulness in all our gardening operations. The words of Cicero, the great Roman orator, are very applicable here: “ These studies are the intellectual nourishment of youth, and the cheering recreation of age; they adorn prosperity, and are the refuge and solace of adversity ; they are pleasant at home, and are no incumbrance abroad; they abide with us by night, go with us in all our travels, and lend additional charms to the attractions of our rural retreats."

Whatever may have been the inducement to acquire botanical knowledge, it is beyond question that, when once gained, the possessor invariably feels that he has been amply re-paid for his toil; and as the years roll on, and the practical character of the pursuit gradually yields to the æsthetic, he perceives more clearly the wonderful power than planned the entire system, and how carefully and wonderfully the most unimportant parts have been constructed. Said the late Doctor Darlington, the eminent botanist: “There is a calm delight in the contemplation of plants and flowers, which is never felt, and can never be appreciated, by those who find their chief gratification in the turmoils and commotions of the animal world. The disposition of man derives much of its character from association, and external impressions; and it is, doubtless, partly owing to the bland influences of a rural life, that enlightened agricultural communities are less prone to those cruel excesses, which so often disturb the artificial and struggling society of crowded cities.” The researches of the naturalist are by no means confined to a single channel.

The bestowal of technical terms upon the trees and plants themselves, as well as upon their individual parts, is but the means to accomplish a certain end. He looks far beyond this. The plant's structure ; its lifework; the ills which befall it; and the uses to which it may be applied, are all rounds in his ladder of knowledge, every one of which wield a powerful influence upon our duties in the farm and garden, treat them as slightingly as we may. The practical value of an intimate knowledge of plants becomes at once apparent, the moment we turn our attention to the subject of pernicious weeds.

Again: quoting from Doctor Darlington, " The man who does not know the more important plants by which he is surrounded—whose eyes has not learnt to discriminate their character-is deficient in one of the primary qualifications of an enlightened cultivator of the soil." As it is not my intention to detain you too long a time this evening with my discursive remarks, I shall now ask you to consider the

By-Laws. Of our Society, as they are at present framed. The field of labor in which we are now engaged, is so large, and embraces such a great variety of topics, many of which the founders of this society never entertained, that I have thought it would be wise to reconstruct them, so as to meet our present necessities. We are no longer, as our name would imply, simply growers of fruit; but we have to consider all the more important topics embraced within the term horticulture.

True, at a former meeting of this Association, the power to form new committees was placed in the hands of the Executive Committee, but the plan would be far more effective if sanctioned in an orthodox manner by the authorized rules, and printed in our annual reports.

The General Fruit Committee is the only one that has each year made a report to our meetings, and I believe it has accomplished great good, notwithstanding the discouragements it has had to encounter in obtaining the desired information. But there is no reason why we should not receive an annual notice of the injurious insects, with suggestions for their destruction. We need more light upon the puzzling subject of diseases of trees and plants, and their remedies, so that a committee, composed of gentlemen who are competent to give advice, might accomplish great good in this particular field. Then again, the subject of ornamental and forest trees is one deserving of study and research; and here, too, the value of our Society would be greatly enhanced by carefully prepared annual reports. The cultivation of flowers, in all its various branches, is, or at least it should be, one of the most popular studies of our common pursuit, and this might be rendered very entertaining, as well as instructive, by having prepared yearly reports on the newer plants, with lists of the older kinds best suited to the wants of our people at large. The proper arrangement of these in beds should not be lost sight of, and their propagation and training are also subjects of importance and interest. The vegetable garden, both for market and home use, appeals to our aid for help. As too frequently seen, it is overgrown with weeds, and the crops weakly in growth, consequently they rarely pay the owners, and judging by the character of the varieties too often selected, a few suggestions in regard to improved forms might be beneficial. Improved systems of preserving winter vegetables is also a topic of great interest to every owner of a garden, so that this feature should certainly be borne in mind.

The Committee on Nomenclature is still engaged upon its work of col. lecting valuable information in relation to our seedling Pennsylvania fruits. It expects to record all such intelligence for the use of our members, and to assist in carrying out its designs, copies of our annual reports for 1871, 1872, 1873-4, are much desired. New varieties of seedling fruits having only local reputations may be forwarded to the chairman of the Committee on Nomenclature, who will carefully test and note their merits. When a variety promises to be especially valuable, a drawing of the same will be made and engraved. We, as Pennsylvanians, are justified in cherishing a pardonable pride that our State has furnished so many varieties of fruits of the highest quality and value, some of which rank not only among the most popular kinds at home, but their characters are rated best when grown on foreign soil.

Concluding Remarks. In closing my remarks, I desire to express my sincere thanks to you all for your attendance here at this time, and to hope that you will feel amply re-paid for the visit.

There are in attendance many gentlemen of large experience, who, in their various horticultural specialties, are unsurpassed as instructors, so that I see no reason for doubt, in regard to the interest of our deliberations. We meet, for the first time, in a section of the State almost uprepresented by our Society, but we trust that the future may tell a different tale, and that a locality such as this, where can be raised such good fruits and beautiful flowers, should furnish its full quota of delegates to our future sessions.

It has been said of these meetings, and fitly so, too, that there is an element of sociability accompanying their business character, which exerts a refining influence over our natures, draws us more closely together, and softens the asperities that will almost unavoidably, at times, creep into our discussions. This social, friendly element should, therefore, be cherished and cultivated, so that we may look forward to our coming meetings, as among the brighter phases of life's journey, nor be disappointed in their realization.

There are those among us who have, from the first, adhered closely to the best interests of our society through good and evil report, who, when all hope seemed lost, when nothing short of a miracle could save our Association from dissolution, these gentlemen, with renewed interest, once again placed it upon a useful basis, and to-day have the pleasure of seeing the Pennsylvania Fruit Growers' Society as useful and flourishing an association as any similar one in the country. Without ostentation or boasting, it has kept on the even tenor of its way, working zealously for the public good, its members bearing the burden imposed upon them uncomplainingly and cheerfully, until, in its own quiet way, it has almost unconsciously raised the-shall I say science ?-of horticulture to a higher standard, in our State, than it has ever before enjoyed.

Yes, horticulturists of Pennsylvania, I may compliment you upon the manner in which you have performed your self-imposed duty; and, in all truth, I can declare, that no body of men, for any purpose whatever, has ever been drawn together in convention, whose arguments and deliberations have been conducted in a spirit of more conciliation and brotherly kindness than your own. And as I look around me, and note so few of the familiar faces that were gathered together eighteen years ago, when this society was ushered into existence, I wonder, within myself, whether or not there will be others to rise up and take their places, when these shall have passed away. As year by year lessens the number of the little company that laid the foundation of our now flourishing Society, I know you will all unite with me in the heartfelt desire that the services of a Meehan, an Engle, a Harvey, an Evans, and others, may be preserved to us for very many years to come, and I am well assured, that the future horticulturists, who may be called to take their places, will have just cause to abundantly thank them for their unselfish interest in the cause. What the most experienced have acquired, by diligent and patient work, is within the province of us all to gain as well, provided the same arount of energy shall be devoted to it; and those of us who may be permitted to enjoy the green old age of life, when the physical powers are no longer sufficiently strong for us to engage in the active duties of the orchard and garden, there still remains the satisfaction of looking back over well-spent lives, and recall. ing the many pleasant reminiscences connected with our vocation, so that with Sprague, the botanist and poet, we, too, may say:

" I breathe the summer air !

I wander in the woodland paths once more!
Again the copse, the dell, the meadow wear
The loveliness of yore.
6. The friend who, in those years,
Shared warmly in my rambles far and wide,
Back, with the same old fondness re-appears,
And trudges at my side."

It now only remains for me to add that I thank you heartily for your kind attention to my remarks, and that my warmest wishes are, that your brightest anticipations may be fully realized in all your daily avocations; not only in the several departments of a thorough horticultural life, but in the various other duties, which, to a greater or less degree, are incumbent

upon us all.

At the conclusion of the address, and on motion of Mr. Thomas, of West Chester, Mr. S. B Parsons, of Flushing, New York, was elected an honorary member of the Society.

President HOOPES called attention to the fact that President Calder, of Pennsylvania State College, could not be with us after the morning session. Hoped, therefore, to hear from him now, on the subject assigned him:

“HORTICULTURAL EDUCATION."

Mr. CALDER regretted his inability to remain, but duties at the college necessitated his leaving after the morning session. After hearing the ex. cellent essays by Mr. Parsons and Mr. Hoopes, it hardly seems in place to add anything further. Must say that a love of horticulture is refining and beneficial. It is evident, to even the most casual observer, that the care and study of flowers and fruits is elevating. The poor, who have

« AnteriorContinuar »