This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The autumn-blooming varieties, as well as stock plants, having ere this received their annual shift, and the spring-blooming ones being in the full radiance of their floral loveliness, the admiring cultivator may for a while rest on his oars to enjoy the reward of past labours; not, however, omitting to administer to their daily wants a due amount of water, abundant circulation of air, and shading from the direct rays of the sun; fail not also to cast an inquisitive eye over each plant when watering, to detect any insidious mildew that may possibly present itself; a timely application of a pinch of sulphur vivum may prevent the future disfigurement of otherwise a fine specimen; for be it known, there is no means of restoring lost foliage, consequently a lasting memento of neglect is ever before the eye.
Whitehill. W. H. Story.
N.B. - In penning the monthly Calendar for treating the Erica, I have endeavoured to recollect all that may be necessary to enable the young cultivator to treat this somewhat fickle genus successfully. Should I have overlooked or touched too obscurely upon any point, I shall feel much pleasure in supplying such an omission.
The flowers of the early-blooming varieties are now beginning to fade: as soon as a plant becomes unsightly, remove the decaying blossoms with a pair of small-pointed scissors, first taking away all the supports; this done, repot, regulating the shift to the health and habit of the plant; for instance, Aristata and its allies, Odora rosea, Trossula, Obtusa, Epistomia, Elegans, Beaumontia, and a hundred others that might be enumerated, root feebly, and ought not to have so ample a shift as the Vestitas, Ventricosas, and Echiifloras; Hybrida, Grandiflora, Me-lastoma, Sebana, Lucida, Transparens bicolor, Florida, Picta intermedia, Gelida, etc. etc. etc, which, being of more vigorous growth, their roots require more room to revel in. The choice of soil, mode of preparation, and application, were fully explained in the fifth Number of this periodical. When shifted, place the plant for a few days in a shady, airy situation (I allow mine to remain in the potting-shed for a week); then remove it to its summer quarters, which should be an exposed situation, protected from alternate rains and scorching sunshines by a thin canvass awning.
My shelter consists of six rough columns, which are let into oaken sockets sunk in the ground; three on the north are eight feet out of the ground, and six feet apart; the three on the south are only three feet high; thus presenting the outline of a lean-to house. Three light rafters run from back to front, on which a thin canvass rolling-blind is mounted, acting by a pulley at one end, in the same way as for a greenhouse; for the end, a slight frame, with canvass strained thereon, is made to shift as the position of the sun renders necessary. By this simple and inexpensive contrivance I effect the desired object, and succeeded last autumn in preserving those plants so situated altogether free from mildew. Plants that have yet to bloom must of necessity receive such shelter as a house alone can give; but on all favourable opportunities throw each cover and light open to their full extent. Examine each pot daily, and water liberally those that emit the well-known ring.
W. H. Story.
The same. W. H. Story.
As mildew is more apt to be generated in the autumnal months than at any other period of the year, more than ordinary vigilance is now necessary to detect at an early stage the presence of the enemy; which, as soon as discovered, should be attacked without mercy. As yet we have had most propitious weather for maturing the summer growth; which when perfectly ripened, with ordinary care little danger need be apprehended. As each plant goes out of flower, thoroughly clean it from all dead foliage, and give the annual shift, as recommended in former Numbers. Some varieties will have perfected their summer's growth sooner than others; when that process is completed, and the plant in a state of comparative rest, I have found it desirable to curtail the supply of water. Cleanliness being indispensable to the health of plants and of gratification to the eye, frequently sweep away the litter that is apt to lodge upon and around the pots; rake over the surface of the coal-ashes, on which I presume your plants stand, and replace the latter according to height, etc, leaving ample room between each.
Loss of moisture by evaporation at this season is immense, consequently every plant should be examined at least once a day, and the soil felt, to ascertain whether water be wanted; for be it understood, that if the ball is suffered to become perfectly dry, even for an hour, the plant is irretrievably lost.
See last No. W. H. Story.
The weather this year has been much more congenial to this rather fickle class of plants than the last, engendering but little or no mildew, and perfectly ripening the new wood. This satisfactory state of things (so different from last October) will place the mind of the cultivator at comparative ease for the welfare of his plants during their winter confinement. It will be desirable at once to house the plants; they are in excellent order now; another fortnight's exposure may perhaps do much mischief. We cannot tell whether the next four-and-twenty hours may bring tempestuous winds, heavy rains, or sharp frosts; therefore be prepared, and set about at once cleaning, weeding, arranging all stray branches, and removing the plants to the heathery, keeping the house as cool and airy as the weather will permit. Should any symptoms of mildew present themselves in the course of your operations, scatter a little sulphur vivum over the part affected. For a more explicit account of treating this disease, see No. IX. p. 254 of this publication.
Gradually diminish the supply of water.
Whitehill, Newton Abbott, Devon. W. H. Story.