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 term applied to flowers or plants that retain their shape and other characteristics after being dried; equivalent to the French word "immortelle." With everlastings are also included various artificial or manufactured articles that imitate flowers or plants.
The most important commercially of the flowers that retain their form and color in a dried state have been the French immortelles, Helichrysum arena-num. These flowers are used very extensively in France in their natural yellow color, for the manufacture of memorial wreaths and crosses, which, being constructed very compactly, are exceedingly durable, even in the severest weather, and are exported in large numbers to all parts of the world. The flowers bleached white, or bleached and then dyed in various colors, are also shipped in enormous quantities, either direct to this country or by some of the large exporting houses of Germany. In the United States, however, the use of these immortelles has fallen off on account of the high duty.
Approaching the French immortelles in aggregate value have been the so-called "cape flowers, Heliehrysum grandiflorum, which formerly reached an enormous sale in this country, and they largely supplanted the immortelles on account of their silvery texture and greater beauty every way. They are naturally white, but require bleaching in the sun to give them the desired luster. They came from the Cape of Good Hope, and reached this country mainly from Hamburg. Of recent years, these producte have been less important in the American trade because of the uncertainty of the crop? poor quality, and the competition of artificial materials. There is now being made in Germany an artificial "cape flower;" this flower is made from paper and waxed, and is'an excellent imitation African cape. Large quantities of these goods are being imported into this country, and they have given great satisfaction to all florists that have used them. Probably in time the German product will entirely supersede the natural African cape, more particularly as each flower has a wire stem which the florists attach to the toothpicks or sticks, and this saves considerable labor.
Fig. 1463. A mature field tree of Pinus ponderosa.
The common everlasting of American and English country gardens, Helichrysum bracteatum, is the only one of these flowers grown to any extent in North America, and more or less extensive cultivation of it, commercially, has been practised in this country but a large percentage is still imported. These plants come in white, straw and brown colors naturally, and take readily to a variety of artificial tints; together with Ammobium alatum and the well-known globe amaranth, Gomphrena globosa, they are grown and used to a considerable extent by the country folk in the construction of the many forms of wreaths, stars, and other Christmas forms, which they sell in the city markets in large quantities, but their sale by wholesalers and jobbers for general consumption is very limited. Statice incana, cultivated or wild from the swamps of southern Europe, and Gypsophila in several species are used to a considerable extent; and the sale of statice especially, which is popular in combination with cape flowers in memorial designs, is quite an item with the dealers in florists' supplies.
Of the dried grasses, the pampas plumes of California, Cortaderia argentea, native of South America, are the only American production attaining any great commercial importance. Their beautiful silky plumes, unap-proached by any other horticultural product, are used in enormous quantities for decorative purposes, and are an important item of American export. They are used mainly in a sun-bleached state, but more or less dyeing, often parti-colored, is also done. Bromus brizseformis is the most extensively used of the smaller grasses. It is mostly imported from Europe. It can be imported, however, including duty, for about 25 per cent less than it is possible to grow it in this country. It is handled in the natural state. Briza -maxima, another popular grass, is grown in Italy. Briza media, a medium-sized grass, and Briza minima, the flowers of which are as fine as sawdust, are also handled in the same way as Briza maxima, very little of the B. minima being used dyed, however. Phleum pratense, Stipa pennata, and various kinds of oats have more or less commercial value, being used considerably in the manufacture of imitation flowers and straw goods, but from a florist's standpoint they are not important.
The most important commercially of the imported grasses is the Italian wheat, the quantities used in this country for the manufacture of sheaves for funeral purposes being enormous, and increasing yearly. It comes in many grades of fineness and length of stem. In this country all attempts to cultivate it in competition with the European product have failed. Of late years, a decorative natural grass called "Minerva" and treated artificially is being imported in large quantities, and is used by florists in combinations, making a very effective setting-off to flowers in basket decoration.
Much use is now made in this country of the dried twigs and foliage of ruscus. This is grown in Italy, and is shipped to Germany where it is prepared and dyed in many attractive colors. It holds its form well. It is made up into wreaths and other articles, and provides a good foliage effect.
Enormous use is now made of magnolia leaves prepared and colored in brown, red and green. In former years these goods were secured from Germany and italy, but they are no longer imported for the reason that they are prepared in this country as good, if not better than they are on the other side, and much cheaper. They are gathered and prepared in Florida, and shipped to all parts of the United States, put in cartons containing about 1,000 leaves. They are used very extensively by all classes of florists on account of their lasting qualities and fine appearance. They have almost entirely superseded the galax leaf, which has been in use for so many years in the making up of mortuary emblems.