Many botanists do not approve of double flowers or hybrids: they see no beauty in them, it brings into confusion the regularity of their classification, and therefore regard them as monsters, as indeed they really are. By high cultivation, the stamens of the flower are converted into petals, to the great delight, in most cases, of the florist. In what estimation, in the eye of the florist, would a single rose be held, in comparison with a full double perfect variety, or a single Aster beside an improved Paeony-flowered one. The fragrance would be the same in the rose, double or single; but it would be like going back to barbarism to prefer the single flower; thus ignoring the culture and skill of the florist for past generations. Adam and Eve were put in possession of a truly botanic garden: God gave wild flowers as he made them, and left it with them and their successors in horticultural pursuits, to find their pleasure in making 'improvements.
But all flowers are not improved, even in the eye of an amateur, by the multiplication of the petals.
The efforts of man to improve certain flowers are futile. Being perfect in themselves, any attempt to improve their beauty is almost impious, and results in failure. Take for example the white garden lily, a flower so perfect, pure, and comely, with its parts so distinct-and lovely. What an abortion and failure is the double flower: the upper leaves of the flower stem are transformed to petals, and we have the flower contorted into a lengthened assemblage of green leaves, passing into white, without form or grace, a ridiculous transformation of beauty into ugliness: it is a monstrosity indeed, and can only be retained in a collection for its oddity.
The double Campanula media has no merit; it may be likened to a nest of tubs or boxes. The large bell is filled with smaller bells in the same way.
The double Nasturtium or Tropaeolum is another example of a failure to improve; the centre of the flower is filled up with numerous contorted petals, and one not acquainted with it would not suppose it to be a Nasturtium.
The Zinnia, one of the most unlikely flowers to be improved, has within a few years become quite a favorite in its double varieties. Instead of the rough and stiff form of the flower, with the ugly high disk in the centre, it has, in its double state, been converted into a flower, that is graceful, and regular in its shape; the whole disk is now filled out full with closely imbricated petals, and is of the form and nearly the size of a moderate sized Dahlia.
The double Hesperis matronalis or Sweet-rocket is one of the most ornamental flowers of the garden. The principal double varieties are the white and purple; the former quite hardy, the latter more delicate and hard to keep through the winter.
The double Stock Gilly-flower or Matthiola is far superior to the single, and constitutes, in its endless varieties, one of the most desirable ornaments of the flower garden. As all the strength of the flower is concentrated in its numerous petals, it produces no seed. It is necessary to plant one or more single plants, by the side of the double ones, that they may impregnate the single ones, which produce the seed from which double flowers are obtained, and from this seed, if from a good variety of plants, one half may be expected to be double.
Double Portulaca have been introduced within a few years and are great novelties. The brilliancy of the colors, and perfection of shape, are very charming. When cut, they are often judged to be scarlet, orange, or white roses, by persons who have not been acquainted with them. One great drawback to their extensive culture, is the paucity of seed they produce, as hardly a capsule of seed is to be found on a plant. I suppose that by hybridizing, more seed might be produced; but one thing is sure, they can never become troublesome like the single varieties which fill the ground with seed.-
We all know that the Dahlia, Aster, and numerous others, are wonderfully improved in their double varieties.
The genus Dianthus in all its species, except Sweet William, and a few others, are greatly improved in their double state. The Carnation and Pink are examples of the perfection to which flowers may be made to attain.
The Datura and other funnel-shaped as well as salver-shaped flowers, when double, lose their beautiful simplicity, and are monsters without beauty or perfection of shape; the same may be said of the Tulip, although some of the varieties are passable. The double Fuchsias, Azaleas and many other double flowers are no improvement.