This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Among them we did not remark much novelty; but there was a variety of the old Epiphyllum (Cactus) speciosum, named Elegans, which is certainly much larger and finer than Speciosum. Turning the corner of the tent, we found one or two small collections of Cape Pelargoniums; among which, the prettiest, to our taste - but "tastes differ" - were Echinatum, spotted purple; Ardens; Flexuosum; Quinquevulnera; and Bipin-natifidum. At the end of this exhibition were the Roses in pots, shewn by Mr. Bradbury's gardener, who was first, and Mr. Rowland of Lewisham, second: these were backed up by single specimen-plants. Then passing a collection or two of stove and greenhouse plants, we arrive at the show of Roses in pots by Nurserymen, which was a grand one, although the plants told unmistakeably that they had suffered from the bright weather in the early part of the week. Mr. Lane's specimens, which were first, were large and fine; Mr. Francis was second; and Messrs. Paul, third, with pyramidally-trained plants.
This system of training seems destined to become fashionable: we see that other growers are beginning to follow the plan, which, we are of opinion, is a good one for pot Roses. Indeed this pyramidal system of training might be carried on to a greater extent than it is at present, even on lawns; for, beautiful as standard Roses are, we may have too many of them; and we imagine that a few pyramidal bushes, clothed with foliage and flowers to the very ground, might often be introduced here and there among them, and with good effect. It would at least create variety, which is "ever pleasing." But to our task.
Entering tent No. 2, we find a crowd of ladies and gentlemen trying to get "impossible views" of the fruit, which is, after all, but scarce; for the Society does not profess to have a fruit-exhibition till July. Pursuing our course, and passing some Amaryllids, among which there was nothing particular, some Cape Heaths, and stove and greenhouse plants, we come to the Orchids, which were, this time, beyond all praise. They were more numerous than in May, and were altogether much finer specimens. This interesting class of plants, whose forms are as varied as their colours are beautiful, a few years ago were thought uncultivable by common people with moderate appliances; but the result has proved to be different. They are quite as easily managed as other stove-plants; and where one has a little house, moderately well-warmed, a few blocks, pots, rough peat, and Sphagnum moss, their cultivation may be commenced and carried on with success. In proof of this, we may state, that from the Orchid-house at Worton Cottage, which receives no particular care, there was produced by far the best plant of Oncidium ampliatum majus at the exhibition. It had five glorious spikes of clear yellow blossoms on it, each flower being nearly an inch across.
Then Mr. Rucker's Orchid-house, in which so many fine specimens are grown, is a span-roofed house, neither lofty nor wide; yet out of this came, on the 9th ult., perhaps the best collection of its kind ever produced. He had a Saccolabium guttatum, one of the handsomest of all Orchids, which was the admiration of every body, and well described by a gentleman present as "a fountain of flowers." Messrs. Veitch also had a nice group; as had also Mr. Warner and Mr. Blandy of Heading. Passing Mr. Schroder's and other collections, we come to the exhibition of Orchids from Messrs. Loddiges', the gem of which was a lilac-flowered Cattleya, with a trumpet-shaped, velvety, deep crimson lip. It was apparently the scarce C. marginata.
We are now in the large tent, and opposite the beautiful collection of thirty stove and greenhouse plants from Mr. Cole, gardener to H. Collyer, Esq., of Dartford, which was second; and, passing a magnificent purple-flowered, yellow-eyed Aphelexis, or Cape Everlasting, and a Pimelea Hendersoni, from the same grower, also Mr. Rucker's and Mrs. Lawrence's Heaths, we reach the noble collection of thirty stove and greenhouse plants from Ealing Park, which gained the certificate of honour, the highest award the Society offers.
Continuing our course westward, past the long and beautiful bank of Cape Heaths, which occupied the north side of tent No. 2, some stove and greenhouse plants, Achimenes, and Statices, we discover nice groups of Calceolarias, from Messrs. Gaines and Henderson; then some Pitcher plants, from Mrs. Lawrence; and, finally, beautiful collections of Ranunculuses, from our contributors Mr. Tyso, and from Mr. Costar of Benson, Oxon. The former had two stands of 50 blooms each; among which, as might be expected from so eminent a cultivator, were many fine specimens, although some were hardly sufficiently blown. Mr. Costar shewed 48 blooms. To Mr. Tyso was awarded a silver Banksian medal; and to Mr. Costar a certificate, although no prizes are offered expressly for such exhibitions.
Thus ends our sketchy and somewhat imperfect account of one of the best June shows which has ever taken place in the Society's Gardens, - a statement which we are pleased to make; because it shews that horticulture is on the ascendant, instead of going back, as some would have us believe; and that the same spirit which induced our ancestors of the fifteenth century to trim their Rose-bushes and cultivate their Lilies, Sunflowers, Violets, and Poppies, continues to dwell in us of the nineteenth century, not only with equal but with greatly increased vigour. That it may long continue so, is our hearty wish.
And now, having gone through all the tents, and admired the beauty there gathered together, we are glad to withdraw from the crowd with which they are filled; and taking the arm of a friend, who always treats us on these occasions, we make our way to a resrjectable-looking person sitting at his ease, with a box of cards and change before him, and a board with "Refreshment" in large black letters on a white ground above his head. Here, in exchange for current coin, we receive two tickets marked ice, and two others marked biscuit; and passing through an opening in a distant line of shrubs, at once find ourselves in a spacious cool recess furnished with a few seats, whilst behind a table eighty feet long, covered with white cloths and furnished with plates, stand a dozen respectably dressed persons, to one of whom, on presenting our cards and intimating the description of ice we require, he communicates the same through an opening in a green-baized wall running the whole length of this place of refreshment. Presently a pair of hands appear, in each a saucer and glass topped up with the refreshing article, which our waiter receives and hands us, accompanied with a plate of cakes from which to select.
The back of that green baize has to us always been a place of mystery - a kind of California of good things, upon which we have ofttimes speculated. The appearance and disappearance of hands laden with icy treasures is, however, all that is known to us; and with a comfortable feeling that our cards have procured the cooling refreshment they promised, we take a look round at the company as pleasantly engaged as we have been, and make our exit just in time to join the throng who are following a military band playing a march on its way to the large orchestra, towards which two more bands are also moving. This orchestra is composed simply of seats and music-tables, without any covering, and is situated in a spot well adapted to the purpose, with plenty of open space, before it a deep dell, and the banks clothed with American plants. Military music or military bands are little to our taste; we cannot divest our minds of their association with war, which we entirely hate and abhor, as one of the greatest curses that can afflict humanity; and whilst they are performing, we amuse ourselves by watching a quantity of large bees, which, utterly indifferent to the tempest of sounds close to them, are busily engaged in abstracting the honey from the flowers of the Rhododendrons.
Our friend satisfied with music, we walk off and take a look about the gardens, and at the company, now rapidly increasing, and which gives them a most enlivening effect. Seated beneath the shade of trees and shrubs are young and old, their faces beaming with satisfaction. The fineness of the weather has even tempted out the scarcely convalescent and the lame, of whom we see several. Every body looks in good humour, which, in one old gentleman's case, we observe overflowing in offers of his snuff-box to the individuals of the whole band of the Life-Guards. Neither are representatives of other lands wanting in their gay costumes, adding to the innumerable variety of colours which our fair countrywomen disport on this occasion. What a gathering! what a mixture! - here a Bishop, there a Friend (Quaker); here a nobleman or a lady of title, there those that would gladly be supposed such. In one place an exquisitely fine young gentleman, and near him a horny-handed clever gardener, whose name as a winner is to be seen on more boards than one.
Wearied at last, we are glad to take leave of our friend, and to seek the pleasing retreat afforded by the circular tent opposite the Orchidaceous plants.
Here our imagination soon carries us into distant lands, where, struggling through swampy and unhealthy valleys, weary, hungry, thirsty, tormented with mosquitoes, and half prostrated with fever, we fancy those enterprising men, some of whose discoveries are before us; and how earnestly do we long for their presence, that they might enjoy the reward of their labours, in witnessing the admiration bestowed upon the spoils of their peaceful, though laborious campaigns! But that cannot be; and so "Soft be the sleep of their pleasant hours, And calm be the seas they roam; May the way they travel be strew'd with flowers, Till it brings them in safety home" say we, as we bring this paper to a close, for it is just six o'clock; and hark! there is the signal in the bands simultaneously performing the National Anthem, to which we breathe a fervent Amen.