The Hardy Ornithagalums have been described in Chapter X (Alliums, Ornithagalums, Meadow Saffrons, Spiderworts, Dog'S Tooth Violets, Hardy Cyclamen, Hardy Orchis, Solomon'S Seal, Dicentras, Christmas Roses, Etc); there are semi-tender kinds, which are useful plants for cool glass-houses and room windows, or for sinking in pots for summer bedding. Ornithagalum aureum, yellow dwarf, also O. exscapum, white, and O. revolutum, white, can be recommended, but the instructions formerly offered apply to them, so need not be repeated.
Every garden should contain Calochorti, either in warm borders or rockeries, or in beds. They consist of three groups, but I consider two only fit for the amateur gardener's patronage; these are known as Mariposa, or Butterfly Tulips, and Star Tulips. The third section is of those called Globe Tulips, which are difficult to succeed with on account of their requiring semi-shade combined with dry soil. The one awkward fact about the others is that the plants ought to be sure of exceptional sun-baking, to ripen them after they have died down as to foliage; one can secure this by putting glass over them, in one way or another, but the bed they inhabit is bound to look unsightly at that stage. So the wise method is to devote positions to them in borders, I think, where a frame 'light' can be supported over the decaying plants upon bricks at each corner, without the eye being much offended.
A Sheltered Bulb Garden.
It is noteworthy that these Californian flowers are perfect for table decorations and bouquets.
Plant bulbs 3 inches deep in October and November, 4 inches apart, in sandy soil that is thoroughly well drained. Cover over with coco-nut-fibre refuse or chopped bracken fronds or heather. Remove the covering in early spring, give water occasionally, if no rains fall, when plants are growing ; give liquid weak manures twice in ten days or so, when buds are beginning. An uncommon feature of culture is that connoisseurs nip off some of the buds, because these are generally too numerous, and thus they make sure of fine blooms. When it is certain that the glass-covering after flowering has resulted in sufficient 'ripening,' the foliage having died down and crisped off, or being ready to crumble at a touch, the plants should be lifted, the bulbs dried and stored like Hyacinths.
Calochorti in pots attract much admiration, especially upon the dining-table, or in the front windows of roadside houses. Ten bulbs may go into a five-inch pot in November, 2 inches deep. Cover with fine cinder-ashes in a cold frame, or in boxes inside a cold gravel walk Reserve Beds for Bulbs glass-house, until January, then stand the pots in the greenhouse from which frost is excluded, ranging them near top glass to prevent plants from becoming 'drawn.' Water moderately after growth begins - never copiously - and dry off as soon as flowers are over; store, and repot the following November.
Of course these charming flowers can be grown entirely in cold frames, or in nursery beds.
By the by, some confusion often exists in the gardener's mind between nursery beds and reserve beds. The former are occupied by 'young stuff,' such as cuttings, seedlings, and bulblets growing on towards ultimate maturity, or to plants that are to blossom there for gathering from. The latter are used for 'reserve' plants, of any species or class, from which fresh specimens can be taken to fill up gaps in beds, window-boxes, borders, etc. There may well be reserve beds of plants sunk in pots, for the re-furnishing of glass-houses, the re-adornment of rooms, porches, etc.; and such beds may be made inside frames, if wished, or have frame lights ready to protect them.
Lemon, spotted and blotched maroon. 2 feet.
Rosy white, edged yellow, blotched with rosy Purple.
Pale magenta-purple outside, cream inside, with zone and markings of maroon.
A wonderful blend of yellow, cream, rose, salmon, and purple.
Lilac and maroon.
Rosy-lilac and crimson-purple.
Pale lavender and green.
Lavender and gold.
White and brown.
Yellow and purple. 6 inches.
White and blue. 9 inches.
Lilac with nearly black blotches. 10 inches.
Lastly, mention shall be made in this chapter of the Azure Day Flower, Commelina Cœlestis, as it is extremely pretty and one of the few bulb- or tuber-forming plants that is both easily and rapidly grown from seed.
The directions given in Mrs. Loudon's famous old book, The Ladies' Companion to the Flower Garden, are precisely those by which I have successfully worked.
Commelina Coelestis has tuberous roots, but it may be raised from seed by sowing it in a hot-bed early in the season, and turning it out into the open border in common garden soil, tolerably rich, during the summer; and in autumn its tuberous roots may be taken up and preserved during the winter, to be replanted in the open ground in spring; or they may be protected by covering the ground with ashes or sand.'
The height is 18 inches, the foliage glossy.
Vallota Purpurea, called the Scarborough Lily, gives grand scarlet flowers, and is excellent for cultivating in ordinary greenhouses or frames and sunny windows.
Place one bulb in each five-inch pot in October, lowing November.