The Scarlet Windflower (Anemone Fulgens) is one of the earliest blossoms. The variety grandiflora is darker red, as well as bigger, and fulgens plena is a double kind.
These, like all the other hardy Anemones, can live out, and may be planted in October or November.
The Wood Anemone is Anemone nemerosa, now obtainable in blue, as well as a double white. Anemone Palmata, yellow, and Palmata alba, white with yellow centre, are its kinsfolk. We have also the Star Anemones (Anemone Hortensis stellata), sometimes called Peacock Anemones, star-shaped single little flowers of entrancing charm, in shades of rose, salmon, red, purple, white, etc.
Anemone Appennina, sky-blue, and its white form, and Anemone ranunculoides, yellow, are splendid in woodlands, or on banks. Anemone blanda, blue or white, looks exceedingly lovely on a hot sheltered border, where the Pasque Flower, the violet-blue or white Anemone Pulsatilla, should also be cultivated. The Snowdrop Anemone (Anemone sylvestris) is not effective, but a dainty gem for the rock garden.
Chequered Lilies, Or Fritillaries, are peculiarly marked pendant flowers, many having a chessboard pattern in brown-purple on greenish-white or greenish-yellow petals, some being tinged with rose or heliotrope. They are hardy, indeed Fritillaria meleagris is a native of our land. Plant in rich borders, in partial shade, from September to November, 2 or 3 inches deep. They are about 8 inches high.
This family possesses a giant, for the Crown Imperial is Fritillaria imperialis. No spring border is complete without this majestic red, apricot-orange, or yellow flower. Place the bulbs 4 inches deep, slanting them if the soil is naturally wet, or the locality a damp foggy one. Unless this precaution is observed, wet may lie in the hollow of the bulb and cause it to rot. For a showy bed or border, the plants may be only 8 inches apart, then the alternate ones given fresh quarters later on; but 18 inches apart is not really an excessive distance for such handsome dignified subjects. They look noble when flanking the arches of the pergola, in tubs by the house steps, in pots or tubs in glass porches.
One bulb in a six-inch pot of extra depth will bloom, or bulbs of any quantity will thrive in split barrels, the roof-garden's giant border boxes or artificially builtup beds, if set 6 inches each from each. Ordinary soil or compost will suffice, yet the Crown Imperial loves the presence of some peat.
The potted bulbs should be just covered by a couple of inches of coco-nut-fibre refuse, to keep them snug; may inhabit frames, or the open garden so long as sheltered from frosts severe enough to destroy the roots within the pottery. When flowering is over, water should be gradually withheld, and then there must be a dry condition until it is time to repot for another season, or for merely starting the bulbs into fresh growth by top-dressing and beginning to water. But these second-year specimens ought not to be left out; the genial atmosphere of a sunny frame or greenhouse is what they need to waken them to renewed life. Of course, pots sunk to the rims out of doors, either in the ground or cinder beds, are greatly preferable to pots stood with their sides exposed; but ornamental giant pots, garden vases of stone, etc., cannot be so used, and Crown Imperials furnish these excellently. Front garden beds of blue Violas, such as the good old-fashioned Blue Gown, round clumps of the Cottager's Orange Lily, with an outside edge of blue Crocuses - a wide belt, not a narrow line - and a centre mass of Crown Imperials, will provide beauty in both spring and summer.
An improvement would be a few tawny Darwin Tulips, to give colour, with the Violas before the Lily flowers, and, of course, 'brown-crimson' and bronze varieties of German Iris, blue Hyacinths, Spanish Irises, and golden-orange Polyanthus Narcissi could be added.
Another front garden flower is surely the tuberous Ranunculus? Experience persuades me that it is wise to regard the Turban kind as the only hardy one, though it is likely that French, Scotch, and Dutch would succeed under similar cultivation in all specially sheltered nooks of warm gardens. In the worst gardens, Turban kinds should be grown only as recommended for the more delicate ones, in Chapter XVII (Begonias, French And Persian Ranunculuses, Ornithagalums, Calochorti, Commelinas, Etc). Named 'Turbans' are obtainable, such as the citron Seraphique and green-and-scarlet Viridiflora, but a mixture of Giant Double will satisfy all persons but the most captious.
In habit of growth, consequently in effect when filling a bed, the tuberous Ranunculus resembles the Carnation, the flowers being thrown on long stems well above tufted foliage, the latter being vivid deep green, however, instead of grey.
Plant tubers, then, in rich yet sandy soil, in sunshine, claw-points downwards, in October, risking others, perhaps, in November, to obtain a second bloom-harvest. Place them 2 inches deep, 3 inches or more apart. Mulch over with coco-nut-fibre refuse in order to keep the soil from being dried up and hardened. Once foliage has begun watering should be started, unless the weather is wet or frosty, for this plant must not lack moisture during the growing season. There should be an exquisite show in June, and the flowers last for weeks in water indoors. Mulch in April with well-rotted cow-manure, and give fertilizers and liquid manures when buds form if extra fine blossoms are desired. Lift the tubers, like bulbs of Tulips, after foliage has died, and store.
Tritelia Uniflora is a tiny gem of early spring. The flowers are star-shaped, ivory-white, in one case streaked with blue, in another so flooded with the same hue that quite a colour-effect is produced, and a perfume like that of the primrose is yielded by them. Plant bulbs 3 inches deep, 3 inches apart, in sunshine, from September to December; cover over the beds or edgings with 3 inches more of light leaf-mould, which remove in March. Leave bulbs undisturbed for four years, when divide and replant.
We come now to the Muscari family, of which a partial list is given on the next page. The little bulbs can be planted 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart, the larger ones 4 inches deep and 4 to 6 apart, in beds, borders or rockeries, in sunshine, from September to December. A mulch of old manure and leaf-mould should be laid over in November. The small sorts can be potted like Crocuses, the large ones like Oriental Hyacinths. Bulbs can be left in the ground for years, and dried off gradually in pots, then re-started in September in cold frames.
The Grape Hyacinth. Six inches. In spring. Royal blue, azure-blue, or white.
Tassel Hyacinth. Mauve. Taller. Late spring.
Feather Hyacinth. Fine plumes of mauve blossom. Taller.
Starch Hyacinth. A very deep blue edition of the Grape Hyacinth.
A fine very dark blue kind, that is earlier.
We may read in Mrs. Loudon's ancient work, The Lady's Companion to the Flower Garden: 'Muscari. - Asphodeleae. - The Grape Hyacinth. Bulbous-rooted plants, that only require planting in any common garden-soil, where they may remain several years, flowering every year in succession, without any care being necessary in taking them up, etc. The Starch Hyacinth (M. Racemosum) takes its name from its flowers smelling like starch.'
Uncommon Bulb Beds in Lawn.
As a matter of fact most of the Muscari can be relied on to flower fairly well even in shade, and under deciduous trees.
The rich blue of the Grape Hyacinth makes it effective when viewed in large congregation. A charming feature for a lawn, or gravelled square, would be closely grouped small beds filled with different varieties and species of the Muscari.