[This owes its classical name to Adonis, the favorite of Venus; some say its existence also, maintaining that it sprung from his blood when dying. Others again, trace its pedigree to the tears which Venus shed upon her lover's body.]
Adonis autumnalis - The flowers are globular, dark blood-red, not very large; it is known by the name of Pheasant's eye, from the resemblance it has to that bird's eye. The foliage is many parted and delicate; the flower and foliage together are beautiful but not showy; a hardy annual which flowers in August and September.
A. vernalis, is a hardy perennial border-flower, blooming in May, of easy culture. The flowers are yellow, large and rather ,cup-shape; one foot high.
[A. name employed by Dioscovides, and probably applied by him to some plants similar to what we call "everlasting."]
Ageratum Mexicanum, is a handsome, half-hardy annual, with light-blue flowers, in compound corymbs. It continues to bloom through the summer; also through the winter, when kept in the green-house, and is desirable for bouquets. There is also one with white flowers, but it is not so free a bloomer, and one with variegated foliage.
[Named by the authors of the Flora Peruviana, after Zanoni Alonzo, at the time of the publication of that work, Spanish Secretary for the Kingdom of Santa Fe, and a great patron of Natural History.]
Beautiful green-house plants with scarlet flowers, but bloom finely in the open ground, when treated like other tender annuals.
It has nettle shaped foliage, but delicate and pretty; it flowers all the season.
A. grandiflora has larger flowers, which are also scarlet; plants one to two feet high.
"And from the Nectaries of Hollyhocks The humble bee, e'en till he faints, will sip."
The humble, or bumble bee, as it is usually called, revels in this flower and is generally found in great numbers extracting the honeyed sweets from its nectaries, to the great amusement of naughty boys, who take wicked delight in confining the poor bee, by infolding it in the flower for the pleasure of hearing him sing.
Althaea rosea, the Chinese Hollyhock, is a very handsome plant in its double varieties, and continues in beauty during July and August. It flowers the second year from seed and the year following, and then dies; but if the stalks are cut down in August of the second year, by dividing the roots carefully with a sharp knife and planting them out in a warm, light soil, they may be continued from year to year; or they may be raised from cuttings of the young stalks, about six inches in length, taken in summer. They should be inserted half their depth, and, if a glass be placed over them, it will facilitate their rooting. Plants so raised, will flower early the following summer. Seed saved from fine improved double varieties, will generally produce a large proportion of double flowers; this is the easiest, and most sure method of obtaining plants. The seed should be sown in May or June, half an inch deep, and when the plants have put out six or eight leaves, they should be transplanted to the place where they are to remain. If the soil is very moist and wet, they are subject to be much injured or destroyed in winter; in that case, it is a safe way to take them early in autumn, pot them and preserve them in frames until spring. Only the choicest varieties will pay for this trouble. The Hollyhock succeeds best when planted in light, rich soil, that has been well drained. There is no flower which makes a greater show, when planted in masses, than the different .varieties in all their numerous colors and shades. Its proper locality is is in the front of the shrubbery, or in the back ground of the border. A great improvement has been made in this old-fashioned, ordinary flower, within a few years, that has brought it before the public under a new phase; and it now bids fair to become as popular as many other flowers that have been taken in hand by the florist. We give the experience of an European cultivator, found in an English paper, to show what can be done in the improvement of this flower.
"If I were not afraid of advancing a horticultural heresy, I should say that many amateurs prefer Hollyhocks to Dahlias. The Hollyhocks of Belgium and Germany had a great celebrity long before they appeared among us. The collections of the Prince of Salm Dyck, and of M. Van Houtte, of Ghent, have been much admired. In other places varieties have been obtained with leaves more or less lobed, more or less entire, more or less palmate, all with flowers large, full, or colored differently from those of other plants, being sometimes of a . more or less dark mahogany color, at others of a delicate tint, and varying from the purest white to the darkest glossy black. Some progress has also been made in the cultivation of those plants by themselves. Since 1830, M. Pelissier, jun., a gentleman of Prado, has cultivated Hollyhocks, and from the seeds of a pink variety has succeeded in obtaining plants with flowers of a delicate rose color, and which, in consequence of the extreme delicacy of their tints, and regularity of form, may serve both to encourage perseverance and as a good type for seed. In the following year, from the seeds of pink flowers, he obtained a beautiful, brilliant, clear, sulphur-colored specimen, perfect in every respect. It is from the seeds of those two plants that he has obtained all the other beautiful and remarkble varieties which he now possesses, after a lapse of ten years from his first attempts. As a general rule, M. Pelissier prefers flowers with six exterior petals, with entire edges, well open, well set out, of a middling size, of a pure, clear, brilliant color, and forming a perfect Anemone. As the flowers expand, M. Pelissier removes whatever is not comformable to the type he has chosen, or is not of a marked color, and like a perfect Anemone. It is by doing this every year that he has obtained twenty remarkable varieties, the names and characteristics of which have been kindly furnished by him, and are given below."
I omit the names, as these particular varieties cannot be obtained here, and besides, the named varieties are often lost, it being very difficult to perpetuate them for any great length of time. "Delicate r,ose, very full flower; red, very full; pure white, flower full; rose, flower very full; dark-yellow, flower very full; clear red, flower beautiful, perfection; cinnamon-colored, shaded, flower very full; nankeen-colored, very full; dark-red, very full; dark rose, streaked, flower full, very perfect; fleshy white, flower full, beautiful; clear cherry, full; clear yellow, flower very full; beautiful white, flower well rounded;, yellow, with a tint of pink, flower very full; dark violet, spotted with white; white, the middle yellow; very dark-red, flower very full; black, flower very full."
Hollyhock seed is imported from France and Germany every year, from named varieties, in packages of from 10 to 20 fine sorts, from which many kinds equal to those described above may be obtained. Semi-double and single flowering plants should be pulled up as soon as their character is determined, or the seed from the fine double sorts will be deteriorated by their proximity. As the flower-stems begin to advance, they should be strongly staked, as it is very slovenly to permit the plants to be prostrated in every direction by storms and wind: