This novel variety of the Dahlia has been introduced within a few years, and, in my opinion, is a great improvement upon the over-grown coarse flowers of the old varieties. Formerly, large-sized flowers were considered as one of the qualifications for a model or show-flower. But since the Liliputian Dahlias have been cultivated, the precedence has been given to them by amateurs of good taste. The flowers vary in size from two to two and one-half inches in diameter, and some not much larger than a silver dollar. They are not too large for a bouquet of moderate size, while the old varieties are too ungainly for any, except for giant bouquets for tables in large halls. The flowers are compact and neat, sporting into the same variety of colors as in the large sorts. It is impossible to give a list of the most approved varieties of this present time, in either class of Dahlias, that would be likely to give satisfaction a few years hence. Some of the fine new sorts soon run out. The nursery-men, who raise their stock of plants by cuttings, take off a succession of sprouts, the last growth of which is slender and weak; and the plants inherit the feebleness of the cuttings, and soon deteriorate, fail, and are heard of no more.
Dahlias raised from Seed and the estimated value of fine seedlings in 1836. - The following extract of a letter from Mr. Widnall, of England, (in January 1836), a celebrated cultivator of seedling Dahlias, whose object was to obtain fine varieties for sale, will be of some interest to Dahlia fanciers of the present time; showing the extent of the mania for this flower at that period, which may be termed the high-tide season of its popularity.
After describing various fine new seedlings, he says:- "These are the very best seedlings, out of 30,000 plants, which covered more than three acres of ground, and I have about the same quantity of this year's seedlings, none of which will be sent out before May, 1836. These seedlings, which I now offer to you, obtained prizes at every exhibitfon they have been shown at. I obtained in ten days last September for seedlings and named flowers, prizes to the amount of £107 ($535)."
The following descriptions and prices of some of Widnall's finest seedlings, will give some idea of the value attached to them in England at that time:-
"No, 1/5. - I have just named Juliet, color a rose, inclining to rosy purple; superior in shape to Widnall's perfection; height three feet; price £7 (or about $35).
No. 3/5 - Not named. A bright yellow, tipped with orange-scarlet; fine shape; height three feet; price £ 1.10.
No. 5/5 - Not named. Ground dark-purple, beautifully shaded and. striped with crimson; height five feet; price £2.
No. 281. - Just named Golden Sovereign, a deep gold yellow; height four to five feet; price £ 5.
G. - Not named. A white ground, edged with the same color as the Queen of Dahlias, and surpasses every Dahlia seen for shape; three to four feet high; price £ 10 (or $50).
D. - Just named Marchioness of -; fine white ground, exquisitely edged with beautiful rose; large flowers and very fine shape; three feet high; price £ 10.
E.E. - Not named A white, finely margined, with rosy lilac cupped petals; globular shaped; very fine; four feet high; price £ 5."
These plants, then in Mr. Widnall's possession, were not to be sent out by him till the following year in May. Probably not one of all his seedlings are in existence at the present time, and if they were, would be dear at $1.50 per dozen plants.