A fine work on fruit trees, with well drawn and coloured plates, by Brookshaw, Pomona Britannica, 1817, is principally taken from the fruit grown in the royal gardens at Hampton Court. In this book, besides some varieties which were then quite new, there are drawings of many of the old favourites. The " Catherine Pear " is figured and described as ripening in August, " sweet and juicy, with a degree of musky flavour : but at best is considered as a common pear." " The old Newington Peach," " Duke Cherry," " Norfolk Beefin Apple," " Red Streak Pippin," and many others are still favourites, and of Tradescant's Cherry Brookshaw writes : " I am doubtful whether we have a better black cherry than this, and yet it is so very scarce, and so little known, that it would be the most difficult task to find it. It is a cherry that was raised by Sir John Tradescant, gardener to King Charles I., different in shape from any other black cherry; and its flavour is unlike that of any other cherry ; it ripens about 20th June." The history such as this of many fruits and vegetables has been handed down by Phillips,* who was the author of several valuable works on the subject. Another gardener who turned his attention chiefly to fruit trees was William Forsyth (1737-1804), who succeeded Miller as Curator of the Chelsea garden, and was afterwards appointed Royal gardener at Kensington. His works on fruit trees and the best methods of training and pruning, went through many editions. He is said to have done more for the improvement of fruit culture than any other gardener, although Knight disagreed with him on some of his methods of treating trees. Thomas Andrew Knight, President of the Horticultural Society, was himself an improver of fruit, especially of apples. He produced the Grange Apple in 1802, a cross between the golden and the orange pippin. George Johnson, the historian of Gardening, dedicated his work to Knight, and speaks of him in glowing terms as one " who unites to a knowledge of the Practices of Gardening, the most perfect knowledge of the sciences that assist it." † To " this distinguished vegetable physiologist" the Horticultural Society owed its origin. Being born in Herefordshire, in 1759, and brought up in the midst of orchards, he began early in life to watch the growth of trees, and try experiments. He felt the want of some stimulus to horticulture, and thought the formation of a Society " whose object should be the improvement of Horticulture in all its branches,"* would have that effect. Accordingly, with the co-operation of Sir Joseph Banks, he organized the Horticultural Society, and a meeting to inaugurate it was held on March 7th, 1804. The first President was the Earl of Dartmouth, John Wedgewood the first Treasurer, and Cleeve the first Secretary, who was soon superseded by R. A. Salisbury. Price, the Clerk of the Linnaean Society, was also engaged as Clerk to the New Horticultural. In 1809, on April 17th, the charter of incorporation was signed by King George the Third. The next year, the first number of the Transactions was brought out. These quarto volumes were elaborately got up, and were so costly that the sum spent on them by 1830 amounted to £25,250. † In 1811, on the death of the Earl of Dartmouth, Thomas Andrew Knight was elected President. Under his energetic presidency, the affairs of the Society prospered. In 1818 their first experimental gardens were started at Kensington and at Ealing, but these were discontinued when the Society obtained a long lease of the Chiswick gardens four years later, and carried on their experiments there.
* Culture of the Vine. By Wm. Speechly. York, 1790.
* Pomarium Britannicum, 1820. History of Cultivated Vegetables, 1822. Sylva Florifera, 1823. Flora Historica, 1824, etc. All by Henry Phillips, † History of English Gardening. By Geo. W. Johnson, 1829.
About the same time the Society began its greatest work, which was not only the receiving of plants from abroad, but the sending out of collectors also. The first plant of Wistaria (Wistaria sinensis) was sent by Mr. Reeves, from China, in 1818, and the original specimen is still at Chiswick, and other Chinese plants—Peonies, Roses and Chrysanthemums— were also received from abroad. The first collector sent out was George Don, who went to West Africa, and on to South America, in 1822-3. John Forbes was sent to East Africa the same year; he died while going up the Zambesi, but not before he had despatched home many new species. John Potts, who went in search of plants in China and the East Indies, also died from the effects of the climate. John Dampier Parks followed him to China, and also found a number of plants, and James Roe searched successfully in America and the Sandwich Islands. The well-known collector, David Douglas, was also employed by the Horticultural Society. He was born at Scone in 1799, and as a lad came under the notice of Sir William Hooker, then Professor at Glasgow. Hooker recommended him to Joseph Sabine, the Secretary of the Society, and Douglas was sent out to North America and California. The wealth of plants there discovered by him was unprecedented, flowers as well as trees. The number of conifers he sent home was so astonishing he wrote on one occasion to Hooker, " You will begin to think that I manufacture Pines at my pleasure." Besides the well-known Douglas pine (Abies Douglasii) he enriched this country with many others, Pinus Lambertiana, Pinus insignis, Pinus ponderosa, Pinus Sabiniana, Picea nobilis, Pinus grandis, the beautiful Taxodium sempervirens, and many more, which now adorn Pinetums and woods in all parts of England. At Dropmore there is a Douglas pine grown from seed given by the Horticultural Society to Lord Grenville in 1827. The tree was planted out in 1830, and in 1886 was 124 feet high, with a girth of fifteen feet. Besides these wonderful conifers we owe many other plants to Douglas* The red-flowering Ribies now so common he sent home; also Calochorti, Clarkias, Gaillardias Godetias, Collinsias, Lupines, Eschscholtzias, Mimuli, and Penstemons. After many years of search in America, he went to seek more treasures in the Sandwich Islands, and met his death in a very sad way soon after his arrival there in 1834. He fell into a deep hole cut by natives for catching wild cattle, and was killed by one of the animals in it. Such a tragic end to one who had done so much, did not deter others from risking their lives in search of plants in strange countries. More pines were collected in California by Theodor Hartweg. Pinus Benthamiana, Pinus Devoniana and others; also Lupines, Berberries, and Fuchsias, and several Achimenes were discovered by him.
* The Book of the Royal Horticultural Society. By Andrew Murray, 1863. † From Notes kindly furnished by the present Assistant Secretary to the Society, Mr. John Weathers.
Perhaps the most successful of all adventurous collectors was Robert Fortune. He was born in 1813 and died in 1880.
* The plants are described by Hooker, Flora Boreali Americana, and in the Botanical Magazine.