The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Belgian fruit breeding

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189.The art of improving the quality of fruits is said to have originated in Belgium; and while the Academy of Munich were doubting the possibility of this description of improvement, and even giving a prize to an essay which maintained the negative side of the question, the art had already made immense progress in the Netherlands. It is not meant that new fruits were never raised from seeds before; but that the business of raising new sorts of fruits from seeds was never before undertaken on scientific principles. Chance has at all times, and in all countries, discovered new sorts of fruits from seeds that have sprung up accidentally; but it was only in Belgium, towards the latter end of the eighteenth century, that seedlings were raised scientifically. Professor Van Mons made the first attempt, and obtained four exquisite pears, viz. the Passe Colmar, the Beurre de Ranz, the Beurre Spence (named in honour of the celebrated entomologist), and the Beurre d'Hiver. Les Delices d'Hardenpont was raised in the garden of Counsellor Hardenpont. Other amateurs have devoted themselves to the same subject, and obtained several pears of excellent quality; the Bonne de Mons, the Doyenne de Mons, and many more. M. Scart procured Le Napoleon; and that learned pomologist the Abbe Duquesne raised, among others, the excellent Marie Louise. M. Petit pursued those researches which M. Duquesne was obliged to abandon from ill health, and from other causes. In Flanders, they discovered the incomparable Fondante du Bois; the capuchins of Louvaine obtained their Pastorale; and the Comte de Coloma, of Malines, l'Urbaniste. During these times, thousands of plants were originated annually at Brussels, with a view of studying the quality of their fruits. The result of the whole has been published by Professor Van Mons, in a catalogue dated Louvaine, 1823. (Messager des Sciences et des Arts, 1826, p. 77.)