WE beg leave to inform such of our readers as may be interested, that we have lately had the honor of a personal interview with the distinguished deities that preside over the garden and the orchard, Flora and Pomona.
The time was a soft balmy August night; the scene was a leafy nook in our own grounds, where, after the toils of the day, we were enjoying the dolce far niente of a hammock, and wondering at the necessity of any thing fairer or diviner than rural nature, and such moonlight as then filled the vaulted heaven, bathed the tufted foreground of trees, the distant purple hills, and "Tipt with silver all the fruit tree tops".
It was a scene for an artist; yet, as we do not write for the Court Journal, we must be pardoned for any little omission in the costumes or equipages of the divinities themselves. Indeed, we were so thoroughly captivated with the immortal candor and freshness of the goddesses, that we find many of the accessories have escaped our memory. Pomona's breath, however, when she spoke, filled the air with the odor of ripe apricots, and she held in her left hand a fruit, which we immediately recognized as one of the golden apples of the Hesperides, (of which she knew any gardener upon earth would give his right hand for a slip), and which in the course of our interview, she acknowledged was the only sort in the mythological gardens which excels the Newtown Pippin. Her lips had the dewy freshness of the ruddiest strawberries raised by Mr. Longworth's* favorite old Cincinnati market woman; and there was a bright sparkle in her eye, that assured us there is no trouble with the curculio in the celestial orchards.
* Original date of September, 1847. It is hoped that the reader of to-day is not so thoroughly steeped in the Mutt and Jeff humor of the colored Sunday supplement as to miss the pleasant and restrained chaffing of this essay. The pecadillos here satirized have not altogether disappeared from the horticultural world. — F. A. W.
But if we were charmed with the ruddy beauty of Pomona, we were still more fascinated by the ideal freshness and grace of Flora. She wore on her head a kind of fanciful crown of roses, which were not only dewy moss roses, of the loveliest shades imaginable, but the colors themselves changed every moment, as she turned her head, in a manner that struck us quite speechless with admiration. The goddess observing this, very graciously remarked that these roses were the true perpetuals, since they not only really bloomed always, but when plucked, they retained their brilliancy and freshness for ever. Her girdle was woven in a kind of green and silver pattern of jasmine leaves and starry blossoms, but of a species far more lovely than any in Mr. Paxton's Magazine. She held a bouquet in her hand, composed of sweet scented camellias, and violets as dark as sapphire, which she said her gardener had brought from the new planet Neptune; and unique and fragrant blossoms continually dropped from her robe, as she walked about, or raised her arms in gestures graceful as the swinging of a garland wooed by the west wind.
After some stammering on our own part, about the honor conferred on an humble mortal like ourselves — rare visits of the goddesses to earth, etc., they, understanding, probably, what Mr. Beecher † calls our "amiable fondness for the Hudson," obligingly put us at our ease, by paying us some compliments on the scenery of the Highlands, as seen at that moment from our garden seat, comparing the broad river, radiant with the chaste light of the moon, to some favorite lake owned by the immortals, of whose name, we are sorry to say, we are at this moment entirely oblivious.
* Referring to Nicholas Longworth of Cincinnati, famous horticulturist and grape grower, who still has a grandson in Congress.
† Referring to the famous Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, at that time editing a horticultural column in Indiana.
Our readers will not, of course, expect us to repeat all that passed during this enchanting interview. But, as we are obliged to own that the visit was not altogether on our own behalf, or rather that the turn of the discourse held by our immortal guests showed that it was chiefly intended to be laid before the readers of the Horticulturist, we lose no time in putting the latter en rapport.
Pomona opened the discourse by a few graceful remarks, touching the gratification it gave them that the moderns, down to the present generation, had piously recognized her guardian rights and those of her sister Flora, even while those of many of the other Olympians, such as Jupiter, Pan, Vulcan, and the like, were nearly forgotten. The wonderful fondness for fruits and flowers, growing up in the western world, had, she declared, not escaped her eye, and it received her warmest approbation. She said something that we do not quite remember, in the style of that good old phrase, of "making the wilderness blossom like the rose," and declared that Flora intended to festoon every cottage in America with double Michigan roses, Wistarias, and sweet-scented vines. For her own part, she said, her people were busy enough in their invisible superintendence of the orchard planting now going on at such a gigantic rate in America, especially in the Western States. Such was the fever in some of those districts, to get large plantations of fruit, that she could not, for the life of her, induce men to pause long enough to select their ground or the proper sorts of fruit to be planted. As a last resort, to keep them a little in check, she was obliged, against her better feelings, to allow the blight to cut off part of an orchard now and then.* Otherwise the whole country would be filled up with poor miserable odds and ends from Europe —" Beurres and Bergamots, with more sound in their French names, than flavor under their skins".
* At this time the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher was writing his elaborate (and unfortunately forgotten) thesis on the pear blight. — F. A. W.