[From a Greek word, signifying a flower, on account of the multitude of flowers-with which the plants are covered.]
Anthe'mis nobilis. - Garden Chamomile. - Is in considerable repute, both in the popular and scientific Materia Me-dica. The flowers are well known or should be well known to every housekeeper, on account of their valuable medicinal qualities. In its double variety it is quite handsome, and a mass of it with its pure white flowers, springing from their bed of mossy-like foliage, are certainly quite charming. It is easily propagated by dividing the roots. A bed of Chamomile is improved in its appearance if occasionally rolled or pressed down. The flowers rise from the bed three or four inches high.
[Derived from words in Greek,' which express "similar to a nose."]
The flower bears a perfect resemblance to the snout or nose of some animal; by applying the thumb and finger to the side of the corolla, it opens and shuts, as with a spring.
Antirrhinum majus, the Great or Purple Snap-Dragon, is described by Gerarde in his Herbal, thus:- "This purple Snap-Dragon hath great and brittle stalks, which di-videth itself into many fragile branches, whereupon do grow long leaves, sharp-pointed, very greene, like unto those of wild flax, but much greater, set by couples and set one opposite against another. The flowers grow at the top of the stalkes, of a purple color, fashioned like a frog's mouth, or rather a dragon's mouth, from whence the women have taken the name Snap-Dragon. The seed is black, contained in round husks, fashioned like a calf's snout, - whereupon some havec ailed it Calf's snout, - or in mine opinion it is more like unto the bones of a sheep's head that hath been long in the water, or the flesh consumed clean away."
Since Gerarde's day, the Snap-Dragon has sported into many varieties, not only purple, but rosy, crimson, yellow, red and white, white striped, mottled, tipped, etc. It is an imperfect perennial, and is apt to die out every few years, particularly in a moist soil - in fact I have been unable to keep it through the winter in some seasons. The varieties may be propagated from cuttings, or division of the root. It is raised abundantly from the seed, flowering the first autumn; but not so strong as the second year. Many beautiful varieties are in cultivation. It flourishes best in a dry, loamy soil; is in flower in June, July, and August. Iinaria vulgaris, which grows profusely by our road sides is a closely related plant; the flowers, yellow and orange. This was formerly cultivated in the garden, but it has a propensity for running about the ground where it is not wanted, and soon becomes a troublesome weed. .
[From the Greek word for pear, in allusion to the shape of the tubers.]
Apios tuberosa. - Ground-nut, Dacotah Potato. - Indigenous and common in rich moist woods and thickets, produces flowers in axillary, crowded racemes, of a blackish-purple color, which would make a pleasing acquisition to the various ornaments of the border or shrubbery. Its roots are strings of oblong cylindrical tubers, frequently known by the name of pig or Indian potatoes; when roasted or boiled, they are eatable, and said to have made an ordinary part of the vegetable food of the aborigines.
The leaves are pinnated, each consisting of from five to seven ovate accuminate leaves. Stems round, twining from six to eight feet high, in July and August.
[From aquila, an eagle. The inverted spurs of the flower have been likened to the talons of a bird of prey.]
Aquilegia vulgaris, and its varieties, are too well known to require description. They are all beautiful, and interesting when planted in beds or masses. They are of every shade of blue, purple-white, reddish-brown, rose, striped or variegated, with single, semi-double and full double flowers. Some of the single sorts are more desirable than the double; particularly the large single blue and purple varieties, with white centers. In bloom in June and July. Propagated by dividing the roots, or from seed from choice varieties. All are perennial.
A. Canadensis, is one of the finest species; indigenous, common in rocky situations, flowering early in May and June. It has pendulous scarlet flowers, yellow inside. I have seen a pure white variety, growing in the crevice or seam of a rock, but, in my attempt to extricate it, the root was broken off and ruined, to my great sorrow. I have also seen a straw-colored variety at the Botanic Garden, Cambridge. This elegant vernal flower is much improved when cultivated, the stool increasing in magnitude, throwing up many more stems, and the flowers enlarged. If some florist would undertake the task of impregnating the flowers of this variety with some of the fine garden species, no doubt, but very satisfactory results, would be obtained.
A. glandulosa, is a splendid and newly introduced species from Siberia. The plant is more dwarfish in its habits than the common Columbine, the leaves are more finely divided; if is about one foot high, producing its beautiful flowers in June. The flowers are large and rich sky-blue; the inside and margin of the corolla pure white. It is one of the most desirable of the genus, propagated from seeds, or dividing the roots soon after flowering and not in the spring. This splendid species is lost to me and I cannot obtain it from Europe; the Reed which has been sent me for this, has proved to be something else. Many of the Siberian plants are protected by the deep snows of that climate, and our open winters are fatal to many plants from that region, and I suppose I lost my bed of this elegant flower on account of its being half-hardy. It should have been kept in a frame through the winter.
A. alpina, is a very handsome species with rich, deep blue flowers; which, instead of drooping as in other species, has its flowers erect.
A. Skinnerii, raised from imported seed, it has large red flowers; the spurs are of deep green color, singular and beautiful, this also is lost in my collection. I do not know its origin. A. bicolor, is a beautiful hybrid. Most of the species and varieties are at home in any good garden soil.