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Art. I. The Fruits of America, containing a Selection of
all the choicest varieties cultivated in the United States. By C. M. Hovey, Editor of the Magazine of Horticulture. In Octavo and Quarto Nos. every alternate month; with four splendid colored plates, and eight pages of letter-press. Boston. 1847.
AFTER the appearance of the prospectus to this work, which all our readers, who are interested in fruits, have probably noticed, it is not necessary that we should recapitulate the objects for which it was published. Suffice it to say, that such a work has been long needed, and is, in truth, necessary to extricate us from the confusion which exists in all collections of fruits.
We have for some years contemplated a work of this kind, and have been collecting, from all the sources in Europe, as well as at home, every variety of fruit, with a view to form a collection which would enable us to study the habits and characteristics of the trees; to detect errors and identify kinds; and draw up a truthful description of every desirable fruit. As a cultivator, we have long felt the want of this; convinced, as we have been, that a greater part of the errors, and the confusion and disappointment attendant thereon, might have been, in a great measure, prevented, could we have had recourse to such a publication. In a country covering such a vast extent of surface and passing through as many hands as fruits usually do before they reach every state and territory, it could not otherwise than be expected that some mistakes would be made, even with all the care of the most careful cultivator : but when we recollect that a great many dealers in trees are not nurserymen, and have but little acquaintance with trees, these errors are constantly increasing; and, without resorting to original descriptions, and actual representations of the wood, foliage, and fruit, there is no way to rectify, with certainty, these errors.
Preparatory to the issuing of such a work, we neglected no opportunity to gather all the materials to render it valuable and permanent--a standard for our nomenclature. Our tour to Europe was undertaken with this in view; and our visits to all the most extensive nurseries, and to the garden of the London Horticultural Society, the Jardin des Plantes and the Luxembourg garden, of Paris, were for the main object of making ourselves acquainted with certain fruits which, for years, have been cultivated under erroneous names, and erroneously described in our treatises on Pomology.
Premature descriptions of fruits only tend to perplexity and confusion : such has been the effect of too many of our works on fruit. The late Mr. Manning, after the experience of a quarter of a century, only began to describe the fruits which he had proved and identified during that time; and the London Horticultural Society, with all the means at their command, described but a few additional fruits in their Catalogue for 1812, published ten years after their previous edition of 1832,--and this is what gives it its chief value. Fruits so change, with soil, locality, and treatment, that neither one nor two years will enable any individual to judge with accuracy of their true character.
Long impressed with these ideas, we have been in no haste to give the results of our investigations; but, trusting to a due appreciation of our efforts, undertaken with a view to accuracy, we have issued the first number of a work which, we hope, will supply the desideratum so long wanted. Of its merits, we shall leave cultivators to decide.
Of some of the peculiar features of the work, we may be permitted to speak. The first of these are portraits of trees of such kinds as are at all peculiar in their habit of growth,for instance, the pear and apple. No pomological work has ever attempted this.
Mr. Loudon, in his great work, the Arboretum Britannicum, has shown how important such portraits are, in identifying ornamental trees and shrubs : but how much more valuable must they be, when brought to the aid of pomologists, to enable them to detect synonyms and identify varieties !
A second feature is, the outline engravings, with the text. These will enable the cultivator, after comparing specimers of fruit with the colored plate, to test them further by an outline; on some thin paper the form may be traced off, and ten the
pear cut in halves, laid down upon the drawing, and examined.
We need not say, how important are the representations of the wood and foliage. Professor Agassiz, a friend informs us, has made a collection of many kinds of our forest trees, by the wood alone; and, if we are correctly informed, he stated that botanists should rely more upon the wood than the sexual formation of the flower.
Our artist is too well known to need our praise; but the specimens show that the art of chromo-lithography produces a far more beautiful and correct representation than that of the ordinary lithograph, washed in color, in the usual way. Indeed, the plates have the richness of actual paintings, which could not be executed for ten times the value of a single copy
It will be the object of the work to figure and describe all the rare and choice varieties of fruits, both new and old, which may deserve a place in any select collection. The first number contains the Beurré d'Aremberg, Glout Morceau, and Van Mons Leon le Clerc pears, and the Baldwin apple. No. 2 will contain the Vicompte de Spoelberch, Winter Nelis, and Sieulle pears, and the Northern Spy apple.
Art. II. A Dictionary of Modern Gardening. By GEORGE
WILLIAM JOHNSON, Esq., Fellow of the Horticultural Society of India, &c: with One Hundred and Eighty Wood Cuts. Edited, with numerous Additions, by David Landreth, of Philadelphia. 1 Vol. 12mo. pp. 635. Philadelphia, 1847.
The eagerness of our cultivators for Horticultural information has induced the republication of several English works, with annotations and additions, and they are about as numerous as those of American authors. This, however, is to be expected in a country yet in its infancy in Horticultural and Pomological science. With due allowance for variation of climate, English works may be made applicable and useful to every cultivator, and, until our own practice and experience shall have become more extensive, they must be the source from whence we must draw largely for information in every department of gardening. Of the best of recent publications of a general nature, that of Mr. Johnson holds a conspicuous place, containing, as it does, a great amount of information in a sinall volume, and placed within the means of every cultivator who cannot afford the expensive Encyclopædias of Loudon.
The American edition now before us has been under the editorial supervision of Mr. D. Landreth, of Philadelphia, and, in its arrangement, the usual style has been laid aside. The preface of the American publishers informs us that "the ordinary form in cases of a reprint, with additions and explanatory notes, has been departed from in the present instance, with a desire to preserve the book from the awkward aspect which it would necessarily present if every addition by the American editor had been included within brackets, or printed in varied type.”
They also inform us that “this edition has been greatly altered from the original. Many articles of little interest to Americans have been curtailed, or wholly omitted, and much new matter, with numerous illustrations, added : yet the present editor freely admits, and has desired the publishers freely to state, that he has only followed in the path so admirably marked out by Mr. Johnson, to whom the chief merit of the work belongs."
We must willingly admit that a book whose every page is marred with a profusion of brackets, or a varied type, to designate the editor's notes, has our especial dislike; and, if we can know just what the original writer states, and avoid this, it is a great improvement in the republication of foreign works. Without having time to compare this with the English copy, we notice that, on all important subjects, the editor informs us how far he has followed the original.
The arrangement is alphabetical, and one of the most important as well as earliest subjects is the apple. Here we have apparently nothing of the English edition, as the editor copies a list of apples from the catalogue of Messrs. Landreth & Fulton, with the remark that they are believed to be eminently worthy of culture. The descriptions of several varieties follow, accompanied with outline engravings of seventeen kinds.
The Baldwin is among these, and the editor states, “though nearly confined to New England, it ought to be an apple of the world. It has few superiors, and is above average quality in all respects: few taste it without admiration."
The descriptive list of cherries is illustrated with engravings of cight of the best varieties.
The following biographical sketch, probably by the American editor, will interest many of our readers, and afford a specimen of the writer's style :
“ LANDRETH, David, was a native of England, the son of a farmer of Berwick upon Tweed. Early in life, his attention was attracted by plants and flowers, and, yielding to his fondness for them, and impulses which they only who love nature can fully appreciate, he determined to adopt gardening as a profession. At that day, the art was less widely and ardently pursued than at the present, and the sources of information, and consequent means of improvement, were limited. Then publications on the subject were not, as now, of almost daily issue. Periodicals on gardening and rural affairs were unknown; and, save the works of Miller, there was scarcely one for reference. Since then, IIorticulture has assumed its rightful place as a delightful, if not a fine art, cherished and pursued by the intellectual and refined.
The subject of this sketch, after having availed himself of the usual routine of practice in the neighborhood of his birth-place, as a mean most likely to promote his views, and extend his knowledge of the more approved rules of the profession which he had espoused, removed to the vicinity of London. Here he profited by an observance of the operations in the extensive nursery establishments and pleasure grounds around the metropolis ; and, having prepared himself for the efficient practice of his art, embarked for America. The hostilities between the mother country and her colonies, then existing, prevented his sailing for a middle port, and he accordingly took passage for Quebec, where he resided for three years. On the conclusion of the war, his longing desire to remove to a southern point, and climate more genial to his pursuit, could now be gratified; and, in the autumn of 1784, he arrived in Philadelphia, the spot towards which his eye had been unwaveringly directed—but why, he has been heard to say, he could not tell. There, all were strangers. Within its wide extent, here did not live a solitary being with whom he could claim acquaintance, much less friendship. How many have since followed from their father-land, and found peaceful and happy homes !
With a pocket but scantily supplied, and winter approaching, when but little employment in his line could be expected, he availed bimself of a