[Named from potens, powerful, in allusion to the supposed virtue of some species in medicine.]
From Nepal, with dark-crimson flowers and elegant silvery foliage; is in flower from June to September; one and one-half foot high.
Another fine species, also from Nepal, with fine rose-colored flowers. From these two, and perhaps others, have arisen numerous garden varieties and hybrids, among which are: P. Russelliama, a splendid hybrid with scarlet flowers. P. Hopwoodiana, with rose and scarlet flowers is another beautiful hybrid; P. aurea, with orange; and P. cardinalis, with scarlet. There are also many other beautiful hybrid varieties; some of the most remarkable are those with double flowers. All these described species and varieties are hardy perennials, not requiring protection in the winter; propagated from seeds and divisions of the roots. They all look well in the borders when the sun shines, but the flowers last but one day and are not suitable for bouquets; but a succession of flowers is produced through the season.
[Name from primus, first, as the flowers of some species appear very early In spring-]
"Primroses, the spring may love them, Summer knows but little of them."
Cowslip, Primrose and Polyanthus are probably all varieties of this species, but this is a point upon which botanists differ, and it will suffice for our purpose to consider them under their garden names.
The flowers are produced in umbels, raised upon a stem above the leaves; they are of a paleyellow, and sometimes red. A hardy perennial blooming late in April or early in May, and will succeed in cool shady localities. Propagated by seeds and division of the roots.
In the varieties included under this name the flower-stem is very short, and the flowers are close down among the leaves. They are very early flowering, and embrace many beautiful varieties.
The varieties so called have the umbel of flowers raised upon a flower-stalk, which rises three to six inches or more in height. The varieties are innumerable as each sowing adds to their number, and it is useless to attempt to catalogue their names.
The rules for judging of the beauty or merits of a variety are wholly artificial, and founded on an imaginary form far removed from ordinary nature. These rules or cannons are agreed on by the general consent of florists. Polyanthuses were first brought forward by the Dutch, and were formerly in extensive cultivation in Europe; but in more modern times they have given place to new species of flowers. They are, however, well worthy the attention of amateurs, for they are very beautiful, and succeed well in sheltered spots, in a rich and rather moist soil with little care They are in flower all the month of May, and some of the Primroses by the middle of April. The flowers are of various colors; brown with yellow eye, with a delicate edging of yellow, is very common; also various combinations of crimson, yellow, sulphur, rich brown, almost black, either plain or shaded. The flowers to be perfect, should be round, in regular trusses, on stiff erect stems well above the foliage; each flower or pip should be of a plain black, brown, crimson or some dark color, with a yellow or sulphur eye, edged with white, sulphur, orange, or yellow color. The choice varieties are increased by dividing the roots, which should be done soon after flowering, and new varieties may be obtained from seed. A little protection of leaves in the winter will be beneficial.
The Auricula is a florist's flower of great beauty. It is a native of the Alpine regions of Switzerland and Germany. The most common colors in its wild state are yellow and red, sometimes purple, and occasionally variegated or mealy. In this country the cultivation of this beautiful flower has received but little attention, probably on account of the severity of our winter and spring months, or the great heat of the summer, which is more destructive to it than cold. The extremes of heat and cold render its cultivation difficult. But in England, near most of the manufacturing towns, and in Scotland, the cultivation of this flower has formed a favorite amusement of weavers and mechanics. The flower-stalk springs from radical leaves, is six or eight inches high, and bears a truss of six or eight flowers, which are of various colors. These flowers are called pips, which should be raised with a light-colored eye; the ground color, when very dark-purple, blue or brown, edged with green, contrasts finely with the eye, and such are considered richer than those varieties where the color is lighter. The best soil for the Auricula is a compost made from loam from an old pasture, kept and turned over occasionally during a year, and then mixed with hot-bed dung rotten, to a mould, or with leaf-mould and some sand, to keep it open. The soil and manure must be well mellowed by time before using, and not mixed until it is wanted.
This beautiful greenhouse species is a native of China, and is too tender for out-door culture; but is fine for the green-house or sitting-room, where it will produce a succession of flowers all the winter and spring, and if turned out in the open ground in June in a cool shady place, will continue to bloom all summer. But the old plants will not answer for another winter, as it is requisite, to have good blooming plants, to sow the seed every year. The best compost for the Chinese Primrose consists of rich light loam, and peat soil in equal parts. The seed should be sown in May in a box or pan lightly covered, and placed in a cold frame. When the plants have formed their first two rough leaves, they should be transplanted singly into three-inch pots; when their roots have filled these, they should then be removed into those a size larger, and afterwards into pots still larger, keeping them in the same situation, and finally when removing them into the green-house or conservatory, give them a shift into those of a larger size. It is necessary in all the pottings to give a good drainage of broken crocks or cinders. The Chinese Primroses are in many varieties; pure white, rose, red or variegated, in umbels rising a little above the foliage. There is a succession of these umbels through the winter. The flowers with fringed edges, are most admired.
One of the most attractive new varieties is P. Sinensis macrophy/lla, with long massive foliage and beautiful large flowers of great subtance, beautiful form, finely fringed, of a rich purplish-carmine, with pentagonal, large yellow eye, surrounded by a broad zone; very conspicuous and splendid acquisition. Other varieties are white and red fringed, rose striped, rose carmine, etc.