This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
A number of our native composites - of the genera Gnaphalium, Antennaria and Anaphalis - are called everlastings, and are often used in home decorations, particularly in the country; but they have no commercial rating.
There is an increasing demand for artificial decorative articles, to be used alone and in conjunction with fresh cut-flowers; they are now being used by the best florists and plantsmen. The demand for decorative artificial flowers, plants and like materials, has grown to such an extent that there are now a large number of businesses devoted exclusively to the manufacture of them. This is well illustrated in the product called "Japanese wood frieze," in appearance resembling very much the well-known worsted and silk chenille. It is made from wood-fiber colored in shades to represent the colors of immortelles. This frieze or wood chenille, when worked up in various designs, so closely resembles immortelles that the difference between them can hardly be detected.
One of the interesting artificial greens is the "sea moss." It is an alga-like hydroid (one of the animal kingdom), known as Sertularia argentea, which is commonly distributed along our Atlantic coast northward from New Jersey to the Arctic. The long moss-like strands are dyed bright green, and the "plant" is used in making table decorations and jardiniere pieces. It is sometimes called "air plant." The apparent lateral minute buds clothing all the branches are, of course, the shelter for the zooids of the colony during life. There is another one (Aglaophenia struthionides) found on the Pacific coast, which is even more beautiful, and which is put to the same decorative uses, and is known there as the ostrich plume, the branches having a beautiful pinnate arrangement along the two sides of a single axis. These sea-mosses are dried, the dirt picked out, and then dyed and fixed in a preparation to make them permanent. They are likely to have an unpleasant odor. h. Bayersdorfer.
WM. N. Reed.†
Everlastings for home use.
After much experience with the growing of everlastings for home winter decorations, the three following species have been found the best for plantings: Helichrysum monstrosum, the double form of H. bracteatum, known as "golden ball," Acroclinium (Helipterum) roseum flore-pleno, and the Chinese lantern plant, Phy-salis Franchetii. These are easily grown, are free bloomers and give better and brighter color in their dried state than other forms. They have a certain warmth in color that is appreciated in zero weather.
The helichrysum and acroclinium are started in the greenhouse or hotbed during the latter part of March, planting them out in full sun as soon as all danger of frost is past. Any good garden soil suits them.
It is most important that the flowers of the acroclinium be picked just as soon as the buds show color, even if they look almost too small, because if too far advanced the ray petals open up flat, exposing the center, which will soon turn brown when dried and spoil the effect. Those cut early will open up part way, presenting only their full color. In full blooming season they should be picked daily. With the helichrysum one can wait until the bud is of fairly good size but all the smaller ones will open up also when dried. Those fully open or showing the center at all will turn brown. With both plants pluck off all foliage, place in bundles and hang them, heads down, in some dry closet. They should be examined at times, as in the drying the stems shrink and the flower may fall down. They should remain in this dry shelter until the house is heated in the fall, reducing the moisture in the air, otherwise the dry flower-stems would absorb the moisture and become limp.
A certain number of "droopers" is wanted when arranging a bouquet, in order to avoid stiffness. These are easily secured. Take a long sheet of a pliable cardboard about 8 inches wide, tack one edge lengthwise on the top of a shelf, at the front bringing it out and downward so as to form a half circle, and fasten it there. Then lay the freshly picked flower-stems on the shelf, heads hanging down. It is sometimes necessary to place a book or some weight on the stems to keep them in place. They will dry in this curved form. Brown split bamboo baskets make good vases, as they harmonize well with the deep orange of the golden ball and the pink of the acroclinium. A wire mesh in these baskets enables the flowers to be arranged more easily. As there is no green foliage used, it is well to use some short-stemmed flower in the center, midway between the basket and the tallest flowers. These "flecks" of color relieve the bareness of the stems.
The Chinese lantern plant (Physalis Franchetii) is an easily grown perennial, spreading at the roots. The seed-pods are very ornamental, retaining their brilliancy of color when dried, the colors ranging from a pale green to orange and red. They hang like inverted balloons, on slender peduncles and lose their graceful appearance unless the main stem that carries them can be curved outward when dry. They have to be treated differently from the others. Boards on a partition in a wood-shed may be used, driving tacks, one each side, close up to the side of the bottom of the main stem, the heads of the tacks overlapping the stick. Run the stem up straight for about 6 inches, then curve to right or left and fasten in same manner. Then, when dried, the lanterns will hang clear of the stem. The seed-pods of the balloon vine, Cardiospermum Halicacabum, work in well among the lanterns. Cut away part of the side of the lantern, and see the brilliant wick inside.
W. C. Egan.