'Many blossoms have been born, And fill the garden, row on row.'
IN the preceding chapter we thought last about broad-leaved plants, the tropic-suggesting Funkias. We begin this chapter by considering the dainty charm of Romuleas, whose foliage is like grass or miniature reeds, whose height is only from 6 to 9 inches.
Still, in gardens there are places for fair flowers of all dimensions, shapes, and colours.
There are yellow and white Romuleas, but, alas ! it is doubtful if any but the lavender and the rose can now be obtained. These are lovely little things, however, for edges of sunny, sandy, well-drained borders, beds, or nooks in rockeries. Romulea speciosa is almost magenta, and Romulea Clusii has brilliant orange in the centre of its lilac-blue flowers. Plant bulbs in September, 3 inches deep at least, and 2 inches apart. Protect them by a layer of dry coco-nut-fibre, and give them a mulch of old manure instead the following March. Or grow in pots, seven bulbs in each six-inch one, in October, plunge in fibre in a cool frame or greenhouse until growth is visible, when bring to the light, but not at once into sunshine, and begin to water very cautiously. Withhold water, and dry off the plants after they have bloomed, but do not disturb the roots. Just start into growth again next January, by moistening the compost, and plunging the pots as before.
Brody's Lily, the Brodiaea, is much better known, and has a number of popular names, such as Vegetable Fire-Cracker, Californian Hyacinth, and Crimson Satin Flower. It is also more than double the height of the Romulea. There are blue and purple kinds, too, all moderately hardy, wanting good sandy soil and sunshine, and blossoming from midsummer to Michaelmas. Plant in September, 3 or more inches deep, 6 inches apart, and lift and replant as usual.
I always pity the garden that cannot boast about its Gladioli. Probably more amateurs would grow them if not bewildered by there being early and late species, the culture for which is bound to vary slightly.
Plant early-flowering Gladioli in November, unless you can obtain them in October. Put the bulbs 5 inches deep and cover over the borders with any dry material to protect them. The soil should be deeply dug, made rich with decayed manure a foot beneath the surface, but of sandy loam of nice friable nature above this nourishment. Place a little sprinkling of sharp sand under every bulb. Mulch with old manure in early May; horse-manure answers quite well for the Gladiolus. See that plants do not suffer from drought.
Pot early Gladioli from October to December, for succession, putting five bulbs in a six-inch pot. Sink pots in cinder-ashes in a cold frame, or in a cinder-bed made up against a wall facing south. In either case lay some chopped bracken-fern, heather, or straw, over the pots, and, if a frame is used, let there be cinders banked up round it, to keep frost from entering by the sides.
Watch for the first signs of growth, and draw the covering material gently away from it. When foliage is well advanced, take the pots into the sunny greenhouse and begin to give water. The temperature may be from 45° to 65°, but no more. Gladioli in pots will bloom without heat, in a room window even, and those out of doors should make a fine display during June. Or bulbs of early kinds can be kept in tins in a cold dry cellar till March or May and potted then for autumn use under glass.
Scarlet, flaked with white.
White, flaked with crimson.
Ivory, with maroon blotch.
Scarlet, flaked with pale and deep rose.
Bright crimson, flaked with white.
Salmon, flaked with white.
Pink, flaked with magenta.
Blush white, with cerise markings.
Pale rose self.
Orange-vermilion, flaked with white.
White, and pale magenta.
Magentapurple, striped with white.
Shell-pink, blotched with cream, and edged with scarlet.
Primrose and coral.
As the early and summer-flowering Gladioli, if combined, give colour and grace from May to July, and the autumn-flowering species are splendid from July to October, or even November, it is obvious what importance the Corn Flag is to both amateur and professional gardeners.
Plant the autumn Gladioli in March, April, or May 3 or 4 inches deep, and as much as a foot apart, in rich, sunny, well-drained beds or borders, placing half a handful of coarse sand under each bulb. Do not omit to put sticks to the plants when they are quite young, or the wind may lay them low. Give liquid manures liberally when flowers are forming. Lift the corms in October or November, and store in frames, rooms, or sheds.
Pot these large Gladioli in March and April for succession, 1 inch deep, one in each six-inch pot, or five in a ten-inch for a handsome group. Keep the pots in a cool place, and prevent the compost from drying up. When plants are growing put them into the greenhouse of moderate temperature, and feed generously as buds appear.