Mossmont Nursery at Buninyong

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Article from the Leader, Saturday 27 December 1873, page 8

In the olden time, when prices were high and competition small, the garden of Mr. Francis Moss was mainly cropped with vegetables, which used to be produced both in large quantities and of excellent quality, especially the rhubarb, which Mr. Moss has always made a speciality. But times changed, and growing vegetables becoming less remunerative, besides slugs became numerous, so much so as to clear portions of the garden of both plants and weeds, and the proprietor having always had a strong predilection for pomology, turned his attention more in that direction, until at the present time his collection of fruits of all kinds, excepting grapes, which do not thrive in that climate, is scarcely exceeded in the colony, for he obtains every new variety he can hear of, selecting only such as are valuable, and suited to his purpose. Those that are found not to possess the properties of size, flavor, and fruitfulness, are set aside; while those approved are extensively propagated, both for permanent planting, and for sale, the business of nurseryman, as regards fruit trees, being added to that of orchardist. Tho home garden contains seventeen acres, about four acres having been recently purchased at a little distance, chiefly intended for the growth of young nursery stock. A portion of the seventeen acres is laid out and planted as ornamental grounds for the accommodation of the public, who patronise them to a large extent on Sundays and holidays from the immediate neighborhood and surrounding district, but chiefly from Ballarat, a fine drive of eight miles through an avenue of young gum saplings which have been allowed to grow up, and which, while young, are really handsome. The soil of the garden is a hazel loam of volanic origin, but dread fully full of stones, to the extent of four or or five times as much stone as soil, which, of course, caused an immense expenditure of labor in clearing, and of which evidence remains in the shape of immense heaps that have been utilised by training vines over them. The soil is fertile, and when cleared of stone to a sufficient depth is exceedingly productive, both in vegetables and fruits, being also naturally well drained, both from its position as rising ground, and from the porous nature of the subsoil. Tho only drawback appears to be the immense number of slugs, of which it is found impossible to get rid. Their presence is doubtless partly to be attributed to a stream which flows through a portion of the lower part of the ground, which has a rather steep slope towards it, and on account of its steepness causes some labor after heavy rains, which bear down a considerable amount of soil from the quarters, and gravel from the walks. The ornamental portion is laid out in a picturesque manner, with broad walks, and borders planted with handsome trees, shrubs, and other flowering plants ; amongst them many fine specimens of Wellingtonia, pines of various kinds, including handsome plants of P. ponderosa, and numerous others. Cupressus macrocarpa and Thujopsis lobbii grow with extraordinary rapidity, There are also a number of deciduous trees which have grown into large specimens, amongst them British oaks, silver poplars, oriental planes, ashes, and elms, all of which grow in the fine soil with extraordinary rapidity. In the borders flowering plants are not so numerous as they ought to be, owing to the ravages of tho slugs. We observed an exceedingly fine strain of foxglove. The soil, climate, and situation are well adapted for the growth of nearly all hardy fruit trees, but especially gooseberries and currants, which are produced, perhaps, as fine as in any part of the colony. They ore cultivated very extensively, and never fail to bear immense crops of fine berries, which are disposed of in the Melbourne and other markets. His favorite varieties of gooseberries are Lord Crew, Rockwood, Crown Bob, Roaring Lion, Whitesmith, and Warrington. These are found to be the most reliable and hardy, making strong vigorous bushes. Many of the imported varieties prove bad growers, forming only small bushes; while others, though growing into large bushes, do not bear well, as Jolly Miner, Thumper, &c. Of currants the white Dutch is grown somewhat extensively; the common black very largely, producing large-sized berries in abundance. The black Naples, which is also grown, and being extensively propagated, has a better character, but has not yet had a sufficient trial in the colony. It has yet to be proved first, that it is correct, and then its adaptability. Kentish Hero, also recently imported, promises well. Red currants succeed equally well. Of these the La Versailles is considered tho best, and Mr. Moss believe that it cannot be surpassed. He has grown bunches of it four inches and a half long, with berries of immense size, It is also a good and constant cropper, never failing, even when the old varieties have not a berry on them. La Hative, La Fertile, and the cherry currant are also highly prized. Grapes, as before remarked, are not grown extensively, it being found that only the earliest varieties have any chance of thoroughly ripening, and that only when trained on walls, trellises, or the heaps of stones previously mentioned. A remarkable instance of the influence of locality on the black spot occurred last season. A vine that was trained round the corner of a house was perfectly free on the sunny side, while on the shady side it was badly affected. Peaches did well for a few years after being planted, then they began to go off, as they have gone nearly everywhere, getting yearly worse until they had to be cleared out. Neither do apricots succeed well. Of late years they have become subject to the black spot, and lose their leaves, sometimes thrice in a season. Pears also are subject to the same disease, which is most virulent where the trees are exposed to the cold southerly winds. The following are recommended by Mr. Moss as the best six, he having proved them to be both good and constant. Last season they were grand with him, as they were everywhere in the district, and he questions whether among all the fine new varieties that have been introduced any will be found more profitable Citron des Carmes, Jargonelle, Williams' Bon Chretien, Gansell's Bergamot, Louise Bonne of Jersey, Winter Nelis.
The apple is another of Mr. Moss's specialties; every variety obtainable either is or has been in his possession, and he has taken great pains to correct the nomenclature, not only of apples but of all his other fruits, and to select and increase those that are of the best quality and most suitable for his requirements. He is a firm believer in blight-proof stocks for the apples, and is a successful propagator of the Majetin and Northern Spy, given a slight preference to the latter, chiefly on account of its more vigorous habit, for though it is not to be recommended to market gardeners, notwithstanding its great excellence as a dessert fruit, on account of the length of time it takes to come into bearing, yet it proves to be a most excellent stock for other sorts, producing young trees of the greatest vigor. Mr. Moss has tried various remedies for the blight, but has not met with any that are quite effectual. His recommendation is to keep the trees thin of branches and spurs, and free from watery shoots in the interior, then, if the roots are clean, a very little labor will suffice to keep it down, by examining the trees frequently and brushing off all that are visible with a stiff brush. He employs a Chinaman at the work, and finds him exceedingly painstaking. Some of his old trees are dying out, apparently the effect of blight at their roots, but his younger trees are vigorous and finely trained, some of them heavily laden with fruit, others bearing a rather light crop. The following known and proved varieties are recommended by Mr. Moss as being the most suitable for the district: — 1st. Dessert : Early Red Margaret, Devonshire Quarrenden, Irish Peach, Gravenstein, Duchess of Oldenburgh, Ribston Pippin, Cox's Orange Pippin, Scarlet Nonpariel. 2nd. Kitchen : Lord. Suffield, Cellini, Reinette du Canada, Cleopatra (New York Pippin), Dumelow's Seedling, Winter Majetin, Stone Pippin. A number of American and Russian varieties are grown; and though it is expected that some valuable sorts may be found among the former, they have not yet had a sufficient trial. He does not recommend the French Crab, on account of its liability to blight. A large number of plums are grown, the trees are in capital condition, and the crops are generally heavy. Of two selections of six he recommends : — 1st. Rivera's Early Prolific, Goliath, Diamond, Washington or Jefferson, Kirkos, Belle de Septembre, 2nd Rivers' Early Prolific, Fotheringham, Angelina Burdett, Diamond, Kirkes, Coo's Late Red. Pond's Seedling is a fine plum, but not likely to crop heavy enough for market purposes. The Denbigh is a grand plum, but not yet sufficiently proved. Magnum-bonum is generally a thin cropper, but takes well in the market. The damsons he recommends are: — the French, Mitchelson's and the prune, or Shropshire Damson, though the latter suffers greatly from red spider, which is also very severe on the common English, to such an extent that the trees are positively killed by it. Cherries also are largely grown ; the trees grow well, and produce fruit of unusually fine size. The following are the most approved varieties : — Early Purple Gean, Werder's Early Black. Bedford's Prolific, Bjgarreau d'Hollande, Florence, and Tradescant's Heart. The American varieties are considered too tender, and though some of them are good he does not consider any equal to the Elton. Early Laumarie he finds to be a grand thing — enormous, and a good bearer. Early Black Bigarreau also promises to be good. Bigarreau Groscceuret is good, but a bad bearer. Although the Duke cherries are universal favorites, they are too tender for carrying to market. Early Lyons with him has proved a miserable thing. Ludwig's Bigarreau is a great favorite ; it has the acid of the Dukes with the sweetness of the Bigarreaus; when young it does not bear well, but improves with age. Nuts, as might be supposed, succeed well; there are numerous trees of the common Hazel, and two seedling which grow well and bear regularly, but the best of all is the Red Filbert, which he has planted extensively. So enthusiastic so thoroughly well up in the quality nomenclature of fruits is Mr. Moss, a student of pomology could hardly spend a half-day more profitably than with the proprietor of Mossmont.

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MR. FRANCIS MOSS'S GARDEN, BUNINYONG - Australasian, Saturday 27 January 1877, page 25

Among those who have devoted their energies to horticultural pursuits in Victoria none are more deserving of credit for skill and perseverance than Mr. Francis Moss, who by unceasing care and application, extending over a great number of years, has succeeded in establishing one of the finest commercial gardens in the colony. About 23 years ago, Mr. Moss settled at Buninyong with the intention of growing produce for market, and ever since he has been actively engaged in gardening. The oldest established portion of the ground, upon which the proprietor resides, known as Mossmont, is beautifully situated in Warrenheip Street, a little more than half a mile from the town of Buninyong. It contains 14 acres, the greater portion being devoted to orchard purposes, but a considerable extent has been laid out as a pleasure garden and planted with a great variety of ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowering plants. For several years after the place was first established the cultivation of vegetables was the principal pursuit, but gradually this gave place to fruit-growing, and the propagation of young trees, to which purposes the garden is at present chiefly devoted. The residence, a neat and commodious building, stands on an elevated portion of the ground, some distance back from the road, and is approached by a fine drive 200 yards long, with borders on either aide. From the home charming views are obtained of Mount Buninyong, with the valley running along its base, towards the east, while on the south lies a magnificent sheet of water, formed by a dam constructed, many years ago, for the Messrs. Learmonth, by Colonel Cotton. Conifers have been planted extensively in the borders flanking the drive and along the front boundary of the grounds and as the climate is peculiarly well-adapted to the growth of most of the species belonging to this class, many noble specimens are, to be met with. Among the more prominent of these specimens are Pinus insignis, 40ft, Wellingtonia gigantea, 20ft; Taxodium sempervirens, 25ft.; several plants of Araucaria imbricata, which seem to be thriving remarkably well, the largest ranging from 18ft. to 20 ft. Picea Nordmanniana is represented by several fine specimens from 8ft. to 10ft. high and there are smaller but thriving plants of P. cephaloniea, P. balsamea, P. Pindrow, P. Webbiana. P. pectinata, P. Pinsapo, P. amabilis, and P nobilis. Among the Abies family, which, as well as the Piceas, seem to be thriving wonderfully, are specimens of A. Smithiana. 10ft; A alba, A. excelsa, A. Douglasii. and A. Menziesii, ranging in height from 4ft. to 6ft. Cupressus macrocarpa is represented by several fine specimens from 25ft to 30ft. high, which were planted 15 years ago, and are now seeding freely. There are also handsome plants of C. torulosa, 15ft., C. Lawaoniana, 10ft, and C. corneyana, 15ft high. The English yew (Taxus baccata) seems perfectly at home, one handsome specimen having attained the height of 10ft. Besides the conifers mentioned, there are also several fine specimens of other classes, including a magnificent tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), fully 20ft high; a Silver variegated holly, 15ft, loaded with berries; and other kinds equally vigorous. The horse-chestnut appears perfectly at home, and a couple of specimens about 15ft. in height are bearing a heavy crop of nuts, a number of young seedlings growing under the trees. Interspersed among the specimens are magnolias, pittosporum, yuccas, roses, liliums, phloxes, gladioli, and many other plants, which give the borders a gay and varied appearance. In the immediate vicinity of the house are several beds filled with a choice collection of florists' and other flowers, which make a fine display. Among the more noticeable are daphnes, rhododendrons, camellias, &c., and a fine clump of Lilium auratum now coming into bloom, many of the flower-spikes ranging from 6ft. to 9ft high. A creek runs through the lower portion of the garden, and here some noble specimens of deciduous trees are to be found. All are in perfect health and vigour, and the variety of their foliage forms a beautiful contrast to the indigenous vegetation beyond them. They are planted rather thickly, their foliage forming a beautiful densely-shaded grove through which the rays of the sun cannot penetrate. Among the principal specimens are weeping willows 40ft high, with trunks 2ft. in diameter; a fine horizontal elm fully 35ft, whose branches spread over a large area ; sycamores, birchs, and silver poplars 30ft., English oaks over 35ft., English and American ashes from 25ft. to 30fr., planes and larches ranging from 15ft. to 20ft.

From the commencement Mr. Moss has paid special attention to fruit culture, and his orchard will compare favourably with any other in the colony. Owing to the high elevation of the district, and, as a consequence, its cool climate as compared with localities in the vicinity of Melbourne, the peas on of ripening is at least a month later. Consequently, the earlier varieties, such as pay best around the metropolis, are not grown, as they would have to come into competition with the mid-season sorts of the earlier districts. The kinds that give the most profitable returns are those that come in afterwards, and these are the varieties chiefly grown. Owing to the coolness of the climate it has been found, after repeated trials and many disappointments, that the vine, peach, almond, nectarine, and apricot will not thrive; while, on the other hand, the smaller fruits, such as gooseberries and currants, flourish amazingly. Cherries and plums also thrive very well, but the basaltic soil is too light for apples and pears, though some sorts of both species do much better than others, and produce very fair crops. About two acres are under apple trees, some of which appear healthy and vigorous, but a great many are not thriving well. The kinds that are doing well are-Emperor Alexander, Margaret, Lord Suffield, Keswick Codlin, Ribston Pippin, King of the Pippins, Braddick's Nonpareil, Scarlet Nonpareil, Grange's Pearmain, Golden Reinette, Reinette da Canada, Dumelow'a Seedling, and Rymer. Prince Bismarck, a seedling variety raised by Mr. Clarkson of Carisbrook, also does very well, and is held in great esteem by Mr. Moss, who believes it will become a very popular kind. The Stone Pippin and many other of the later kinds do not thrive well, and produce little fruit Mr. Moss's collection of apples numbers altogether about 500 varieties, many of them being newly introduced kinds, which are worked on experimental trees, and only a few have fruited as yet For some years past Mr. Moss has been importing new varieties, and last year he received a large number of young trees and scions from Messrs. Scott, of Merriott, Somerset. Most of the trees were unfortunately dead when they arrived, but, strange to say, scions of the same kinds, which came to hand in March, were in nearly every instance sound, and being budded immediately, the varieties were saved, and are now growing as freely as the other sorts. Among them are a number of American sorts reputed to be valuable, viz., Ailes, American Golden Pippin, Chandler, Cogswell, Domine, Fallawater, King of Tomkins County, Lady's Street, Monmoth Pippin, Newtown, Spitzenberg, Twenty Ounce, Westfield Seek no Farther, Wagner, White Winter Pearmain, Willow Twig, and Winesop. Of English varieties only two were saved, viz., Kentish Fillbasket (the variety known as such in the colony being, in the opinion of Mr. Moss, incorrectly named) and Miner's Dumpling, a very long keeping sort. Pears are grown largely, but many of the kinds are very much affected by the black spot this season. The most profitable varieties are the Jargonelle, 'Williams' Bon Chretien, Doyenné Boussock, Durandeau, Louise Bonne of Jersey, Forelle, Vicar of Winkfield, Winter Nelis, and Josephine de Malines. The collection of pears altogether includes about 150 varieties, many of them newly introduced, and not as yet proved. Cherries thrive admirably, and a large quantity are grown, mostly of the later kinds, which ripen about the holidays and command a ready sale at good prices. The principal sorts grown are Bigarreau Gros Coeuret, Bigarreau d'Hollande, Bigarreau Napoleon, St Margaret's, and Florence. Of Bigarreau d'Holland there are about 1,000 fruiting trees, St Margaret's 600, Florence 100, and the other sorts in smaller numbers. They have borne an enormous crop of fruit this season, the greater portion of which has been sent to the Melbourne market. There are a large number of plums, the collection embracing aboot 120 varieties; many are, however, only under trial. The kinds that have succeeded best are, Rivera's Early Prolific, Diamond, Angelina Burdett, Mitchelson's, Kirk's, Washington, Jefferson, Reine Claude de Bavay, Coe's Golden Drop, and Pond's Seedling. A new variety, Automne de Schamal, which produces a large quantity of fine fruit of superior quality very late in the season, is also, in the opinion of Mr. Moss, likely to prove most valuable. Gooseberries are grown upon an extensive scale, both soil and climate suiting them admirably. Some of the bushes are enormous specimens, spreading out 9ft or 10ft, and several of them have yielded over 60 quarts each this season. They are all of one variety, which has been grown about Buninyong for over 40 years having been introduced from Tasmania by Mr.  J. P. Fawkner. The collection includes about 120 named varieties, but only a limited number have proved valuable for market purposes as yet, though Many have fine showy fruit. The sorts mostly grown and which are found to answer best are, for early crop, Lord Crew and Rockwood ; main crop, Crown Bob, Roaring Lion, Whitesmith. Green Overall, and Leveller; late kinds, Warrington. Billy Dean, and White Lion. Both red and white currants do as well as the gooseberries, producing enormous crops of fruit, both bunches and berries being very large. Several varieties are grown, one of the best being La Versaillaise, a red sort, which has been cultivated for 14 years and never missed a crop. A new plantation of this kind, numbering about 1,000 bushes, was planted last year, and has borne well this season. Mr. Moss has raised a number of seedlings from this variety, some of the more promising being selected for further trial. The Riby Castle is a good bearing late sort, which Mr. Moss considers worth keeping, but most other kinds are, in bis opinion, of little value. The White Dutch has proved the beat of its class, producing immense crops and very fine fruit. For black currants the soil is rather too dry, though they bear well while the plants are young. Several varieties are grown, but the best of the lot is one known as Kentish Hero, which produces an abundance of foliage, has short - jointed wood, bears freely, and has large fruit. The Black Naples has the largest fruit, but does not bear well, and suffers much from the hot weather. About three years since, a plantation of nuts was made, which have done exceedingly well, and Mr. Moss is sanguine that they will be a great success. Several varieties were planted, of which the Red Filbert, Casford, Nottingham Prolific, and Riddell's Cob (a colonial sort rained by Mr. H. Riddell, of Clarendon) are all bearing freely this season. There are also several walnut and chestnut trees, which seem to be doing remarkably well and are making vigorous growth.

A large quantity of nursery stock is grown, principally apples, currants, and gooseberries. An immense number of apple trees are worked every season, the stocks used being Northern Spy, Winter Majetin. and the Irish Peach. The trees are a fine healthy lot, and all that could be desired as regards growth. Most of the nursery stock is growing upon a block of land about a quarter of a mile from the older garden, which has been purchased recently. A never-failing stream runs through the property, and the water can be distributed over any portion of the ground at pleasure. This is a great advantage to the young trees, as their growth is never checked by dry weather. Ample provision is made to prevent the soil from becoming saturated with water by nearly a mile of covered drains. A portion of the old creek-bed has been planted with a collection of rhododendrons, numbering about 90 of the best named sorts, which are growing very freely and promise to be a great success. Last season Mr. Moss purchased another piece of land, containing 17 acres, which is separated from the nursery ground by a road, the creek previously mentioned running through it. The soil is similar to that in the nursery, viz., a sandy loam resting on a clay bottom, and Mr. Moss is sanguine that apples will do well upon this land. Seven acres have been planted with young appletrees, mostly late-keeping sorts, and it is intended to fill the remainder of the ground next season. Though the season has been a very trying one, the young trees have done well, and made a fair amount of growth. Around the boundaries a belt of quick growing trees has been planted for shelter, which seem to be doing very well. It is Mr. Moss's intention to construct a reservoir on the upper portion of the ground, to be supplied by the stream, so that the water can at pleasure be turned on to every row of trees in any weather. In conclusion, we may state that every portion of the ground is kept in beautiful order, scarcely a weed is to seen, and the whole place has a trim and orderly appearance. Everything appears to be done systematically, and the judgment, skill, and energy displayed in the management by the proprietor deserve the highest commendation.

Both of these articles have been copied shamelessly from Trove. 1877 here and 1873 here


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