Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

California Nursery Company, 1888

Pacific Rural Press, April 14, 1888

The Nursery Business.

The business of tree propagation, as might be inferred from the fact that orchards and vineyards are multiplying with such rapidity, is one of the most important lines of our horticultural industry. It has had its ups and downs, as have most productive efforts in this State, and, in fact, anywhere. The oscillations are, however, more sudden and marked in California than elsewhere, because horticultural fevers and fashions here surge higher and fall lower than in older countries. When the tree-plant-ing fever runs high, nurserymen multiply; you can hardly fire off a gun anywhere without hitting one. When the fruit prices have been low for a time you might hunt all day for one— unless you should hunt in the advertising columns of the Rural Press, and there you will always find the most enterprising of them. Growing nursery stock is very much like growing hops, except that surplus fruit trees are of no earthly account—you can't even make homemade beer out of them. As with nursery stock, however, as with hops, those who operate the business intelligently and enterprisingly and stay with it through thick and thin become well-to-do and are generally well esteemed in the community— except now and then when an order for winter apple trees is filled with cherry plums. Such incidents sometimes lead orchard-planters to think nurserymen are not honest.

One of the chief requirements of success in the nursery business is foresight. It is a business in which hind sight is remarkably clear. We doubt if a nurseryman who burned up French prunes in 1886, because he could not get $6 per hundred for them, ever forgot how they looked while he was trying to scrape up enough to fill orders at $25 per hundred in 1887. To be able to foresee how fruit prices are going to run a year ahead, to judge whether orders for canned and dried fruit are going to be half as large or twice as large as the supply, to be mind-reader enough to tell a year ahead what especial fruits the newspapers are going to boom, and how many orchard-plant-ers will be brought into the State at cut rates—all these delicate problems enter into the every day thought of the nurseryman, and no wonder his forehead gets higher every year in the effort to master them. These things enter more or less into tree propagation everywhere, but are of sharpest moment in California, where every planter wants yearling trees and where trees grow so fast that if the nurseryman leaves the stock in the ground two years he has to establish a logging oamp and sawmill to work up the two-year-olds into furniture or fence boards. And yet, with all such hardships, the nursery business in California to those who stay by it, and deal conscientiously, is a good one, and probably always will be so. 

In view of the fact that there has been such a draft upon tree stock during the last planting season, and the future is so promising, we have thought it fitting to give an engraving which includes views taken on the grounds of the California Nursery Company at Niles. This is the largest nursery establishment in California, and its grounds are eligibly situated near Niles, in the lower part of Alameda county, close to the track of the Central Pacific railway, which is seen crossing the foreground of one of the pictures. We need not describe the establishment in detail, for most of our readers know it from previous notices. Suffice it to say that the nursery covers something like 500 acres of excellent land and that the participants in the enterprise are the old and well-known names, John Rock, R. D. Fox, James Hutchison and Thomas Meherin. The engravings give an idea of the force of men they employ and some intimation of the general features of the establishment, more of which can be learned from a visit, which will requite the effort to any interested horticulturist.

Another article run 27 November 1886. The 1886 article mentions a "one large order has just been filled for China".

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