This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
I have read Mr. Brown's excellent article on this subject in your last Number with much pleasure, and I do not doubt that it will tend to bring these fine plants more into notice. I beg, however, to state, that I do not consider them all to be "perfectly hardy;" experience has satisfied me to the contrary, especially as respects the class called early-flowering varieties, or, in other words, the Cardinalis section, which includes by far the most numerous, and, I may say, the most beautiful of the tribe. The reason why they are not hardy, is their tendency to early growth; consequently, if planted in the open ground unprotected, they would be killed by frost. Many of the varieties in this division are in a growing state early in November, and all of them are in action in February; therefore I cannot agree with Mr. Brown as to their being hardy. If their growth could be retarded by any means, in order that they might be planted about March, with Gandavensis, psittacinus, floribundus, and their varieties, we might consider them to be hardy. And here lies the value of hybridisation; we want crosses of Gandavensis with Cardinalis, or any of its varieties, and then I have no doubt they would be hardy.
The colours and markings of the latter are also much wanted in the habit of Gandavensis and floribundus and its allies; but the question is, how to get them? it has puzzled the hybridist hitherto; and if we are to believe Dr. Herbert's statement, which deserves great weight, the thing has not been effected.
My mode of managing the early-flowering kinds is, to pot them as they shew symptoms of growth, and plunge them in a cold frame, merely keeping the frost from them. I plant them out in May, in a bed composed of light rich soil, where they continue flowering for a considerable time, and produce a fine display. I subjoin a list of the best sorts, selected from about sixty varieties:
Bright Scarlet or Pink, with white markings.
Cardinalis superbus. Ignescens. Garrick. Prince Albert.
Magni floras. La Beaute". Salmonii. Lord Palmerston.
Prince of "Wales.
The best dark varieties are, Semiramis, Rex rubrorum, and In-signis. The best lights, or whites, are, Incomparabilis, Queen Victoria, La Princesse, Princeps, and Invincible. And the best hardy-kinds, Gandavensis, Gandavensis coccinus, Tamsesus, Polystachia, Vernalis spicatus, and Albicans roseus.