This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
This class of flowers has latterly been raised into considerable importance; and from the improvements effected by superior cultivation and raising new varieties from seed, they have become a very attractive feature of our large exhibitions. Dwarf and delicate in habit, and most profuse bloomers, they form, when well grown, perfect nosegays in themselves, and are consequently much admired, particularly by the ladies.
In another part of this Number will be found a notice of them as exhibited at Chiswick; and with a view to assist our readers in making a selection for cultivation, we subjoin a list of some of the best varieties, adding from our Note-book such novelties as have come under our observation during the present season. It is a great mistake to imagine, as some have done, that they will displace the stronger varieties. Like all matters of taste, some will cultivate one sort, some will prefer the other; many, that have the means, will cultivate both. It is singular that in either class there exist shades of colour which the other does not possess; and it will be interesting to attempt the infusion of the brilliancy of some of the older varieties into the Fancies, and the delicacy of the lilac shades into the former.
In appending the following list, we have to return our thanks to those extensive growers of this class of Pelargoniums, Messrs. Ambrose and Gaines, both of Battersea, Nurserymen, for a quantity of cut blooms sent in handsome trusses for our inspection. Would that their example was more generally followed, and that their brethren in business used our work more extensively as a medium of communication with the flower-loving and purchasing public! It is worth their while to bear in mind, that our circulation this year (1849) will be little, if at all, under Fifteen-hundred copies a month! Our aim is Four-thousand.
Reine Francaise. Jenny Lind. Empress. Formosa. Ne-plus-ultra.
Hero of Surrey.
Statiaskii or Ytolinskii.
Quercifolia superba. Captivation. Delight. Magnifica.
1. Defiance. (Ambrose).
2. Ne plus Ultra (Gaines) 3. Jenny Lind (Ambrose).
Either of the above growers can supply a more extended catalogue; and there are some yearling seedlings of great merit, which must be two years old before we notice them.
Your amusing correspondent from Cornwall, "Amateur," has expressed in a friendly spirit his dislike of the race of fancy Pelargoniums, and his disapprobation of the part you have taken in exhibiting them to public view in the illustrations of The Florist.
In his estimate of those varieties, and of the class to which they belong, I do not doubt that I entirely participate; but not at all in his censure of the conductors of The Florist on account of their appearance in the pages of that work; for this curious strain of flowers has for the last few years every where broken out among the raisers of seedling Pelargoniums, and I believe you have hit upon its true reason. But they have been, taken up by the public; and a periodical, which must represent as well as form public opinion, would be reprehensible if it did not exhibit fairly and impartially all the facts within its range, and the state of public feeling upon them. I have no doubt, therefore, that you did no more than your duty in figuring those "odious frights;" for many people entertain an opinion of their merits very different from "Amateur's" or my own. By our volatile neighbours on the other side of the Channel, I heard from a gentleman who was there the season before last, hardly any but of this class were noticed at all.
And even in England I know a person of excellent taste, enthusiastic floral propensities, and himself a raiser of seedlings, who moreover has had several of this class among his own seedlings, and treated them as "Amateur" treated his, and with similar expressions of disgust; and who nevertheless has recently become a purchaser of some of the class. And certainly there is something very striking and original about their tricuspid petals, and quaint, lively markings.
But whether I can get Mr. Beck out of the scrape of raising them, I am not so certain. A journalist must notice these things, and a sender of seedlings into the market must defer somewhat to the taste of the day; but I confess I rather wondered that a gentleman of such correct judgment as is the raiser of Clown, Harlequin, and Singularity, should risk the high prestige of his name by connecting it with any specimen of a doubtful class of flowers, - for such at least this must be considered.
My own opinion of the class is, that "Amateur" may console himself with the expectation of seeing it extinct at no distant period, for the following reason: Were it a return to the original form of the native petal (as Siddonia is), there might be a reason for its adoption, and a hope that it might lead us to a new strain in a different direction of qualities. And in this manner I think it not impossible that, with Siddonia or Dodecatheon for a female parent, crossed with pollen from Centurion or some other flower of good quality that is blotched on the under petals, something new might be produced.
But in the shark-toothed forms this is not the case: there is a departure from the original form, such as always takes place under culture, but in the wrong direction, - towards irregular and defective outline, meretricious colouring, and deteriorated qualities; and therefore nothing much beyond themselves is to be expected. Further progress would probably only make them worse; and in their present state, if they were, like our annuals, to carry a succession of their abundant bloom with its strongly contrasted forms and tints in our borders, they would be very desirable. But as this is out of the question, I have too good an opinion of the English taste in the long-run to expect their being long sought after by purchasers. And when these fall off, their doom is sealed, and " Amateur" will be relieved of the nightmare. G. J.