This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
But we will go out with the party with which we entered; and in doing so, outside the garden-wall, but within the Society's gates, we come to a building, which was closed at our entrance, but is now filled or filling with gardeners, who, presenting a ticket, sign their names in a book, and then take their place at a long table, where they are at once supplied with tea or coffee and cold provisions, all of the very best quality, and in great abundance. The floor above is provided with water, soap, towels, and all the other requirements for exchanging a working face, hands, and clothes for a holiday - suit; and we believe we speak the sense of the whole body of the exhibitors at Chiswick when we say, that this part of the Society's arrangements is valued in no common degree, as having very greatly conduced to their comfort and enjoyment on these interesting occasions. We have also much pleasure in stating, that we understand the Council are entirely satisfied with the results of this arrangement. Let us not forget to record that many of those enjoying this refreshment have been travelling all night, after a previous hard day's work, packing and preparing; indeed, some have come as far as from Exeter, and before twelve hours have passed will be returning there again.
"Not seldom clad in radiant vest Deceitfully goes forth the Morn," might truly be sung of the 5th of May, the Society's show-day; for a finer commencement could not have been wished, or a more undesirable afternoon. A little after the opening of the gates for the admission of visitors, some premonitory symptoms of a coming storm appeared in a few large drops of rain and dark rising clouds, which were soon followed by thunder, lightning, hail, and rain, sufficient to satisfy the most covetous in such matters. It is needless to state how company coming turned back; how those that were at the entrances remained in their carriages; how all in the grounds sought the shelter of Edgington's new tent; and how dull was the sale of Gunter's ices and other good things. But to our task of describing the various and beautiful objects of the exhibition; and in doing this, let us run through the tents in the order in which we have described them above.
As we entered the first, a group of new plants immediately faced us, the most conspicuous among which was Boronia spathulata, a second-class species, with delicate pink flowers, not unlike those of a Saxifrage. This came from Messrs. Veitch, who had also their Viola lutea, mentioned in the present Number. Proceeding round the corner to the right, we pass some small collections of stove and greenhouse plants, and come to the exhibition of Azaleas, than which we have seldom seen a better. It filled about three-fourths of a side of this tent; and when viewed from one end, the large columns of white, purple, scarlet, and crimson, occupying the eye in rapid succession, produced not only a grand, but at the same time a pleasing effect. Than some of the plants in Mr. Green's collection, we are sure Azalea cultivation could not be carried further. Passing round the east end of this tent, we come to the Roses of Mr. Slowe and Mr. Rowland; and these were backed up by some noble single specimens, more especially a huge Weigela rosea covered with flowers, which looked so much like apple-blossoms, that we could only regret they were not to be succeeded by fruit.
Then there was another Chinese plant in the shape of Indigofera decora, from Sion. This proves to be a really pretty thing; its long drooping racemes of pink flowers contrasting well with its airy and elegant foliage. We also observed here a noble specimen of Epacris miniata, loaded with rosy-pink white-tipped tubes, and proving beyond doubt that, although this brilliant species has been reported to be a shy flowerer, it is not really so, or, if it be, at least that such disposition may be overcome by skilful management. Separating the Amateurs' from the Nurserymen's Roses were some stove and greenhouse plants, and a collection of Cape Heaths from Messrs. Veitch, in which we remarked several of our friend Mr. Story's seedlings. These were named Sanguinea, Re-torta, Vittata, Devonia, and Perelegans, - all very beautiful sorts, something in the way of Aristata. We now come to the Nurserymen's Roses; and here we were more than surprised, after so backward a spring, to see such a fine display of a flower, which, a few years ago, was pronounced to be uncultivable in pots. Mr. Paul's plants, which were trained in the form of pyramids, were splendidly grown and bloomed; and Mr. Lane's were little inferior.
The next in point of merit were Mr. Francis's, of Hertford.
We now enter tent No. 2; and here the first exhibition we met was the Fruit, which was intermixed with Ferns in pots, in order to create variety. Then came some seedling Calceolarias, some Pansies, stove and greenhouse plants, and finally the Orchids, of which there was a large and splendid display; and no part of the exhibition excited more interest than this. The best group of these, we are glad to record, was contributed by Mr. Williams, gardener to C. B. Warner, Esq., of Heddesdon, who, it will be remembered, was kind enough to furnish the Orchids for Mr. Edwards's lists. His plants were admirably grown and flowered. We remarked little new among the various collections, save Vanda suavis, a most beautiful species, and an Arpophyllum, with an upright spike of flowers arranged with the greatest regularity, and exhibiting an appearance something like that presented by the feather of a soldier's cap. The north side of this tent was filled with Cape Heaths, stove and greenhouse plants, Calceolarias, and a few hardy Rhododendrons, among which there was nothing remarkable.
With the leave of our readers, we will now face eastward, and return to the iron tent at the end of the one we have just described. Facing us on entering this, were one or two Orchids, some Cape Heaths, and then we came to the large collection of stove and greenhouse plants furnished by Mr. Cole, gardener to H. Collyer, Esq., of Dartford. This was the second group in point of merit, and occupied the semicircular stage on the south of the tent. Proceeding round the end, and passing Mr. Rucker's heaths, which, for the credit of Mr. Leach, we ought to mention were specimens of perfect cultivation, we came to the best collection of stove and greenhouse plants. These were produced by Mrs. Lawrence, of Ealing Park; a name which, in connexion with flower-shows, must be familiar to all our readers. At the base of this magnificent collection, on the one side, was a specimen of Pimelea spectabilis from the same lady, than which, both for size and bloom, the like was perhaps never before seen in Europe; and on the other side was Mr. Parker's exhibition of Pelargoniums; and notwithstanding the unfavourable spring we have just passed over, we may state with safety that he never shewed plants in finer condition.
We will now have a look at the Pelargonium tent, as it was wont to be called, which stands at right angles to the one we have just viewed. This tent has hitherto been filled with Pelargoniums, forming a mass of beauty; but we can say little more for it this time than that it cut a very sorry figure, except in one spot; and as we wish to avoid the very unpleasant task of finding fault, we will merely add, that it is incumbent upon those that shew in the class "new and first-rate varieties" to bring forward specimens of the advance annually made; and if they cannot do this, they had better not exhibit at all, as it is really damaging the character of the flower to exhibit such specimens as were seen on this occasion. We must except from this censure Mr. Dobson's collection, which consisted of really fine varieties, covered with large and abundant flowers, and in wonderful condition for the season. Mr. Cock had a nice collection of six; but altogether the tent, with its ill-assorted appearance of Daisies, Cinerarias, Rhododendrons, and other plants, make us glad to defer to another month a more particular notice of its contents, promising our readers to give them a good account of all the best varieties at a future time, as no doubt we shall see them under more advantageous circumstances.
Casting a retrospective look over the whole of this fine show, we find that we have omitted one or two things which we fear our readers would not have pardoned us for overlooking. One is Calceolaria grandis from Messrs. Veitch, a new shrubby species from Peru, with clear yellow flowers, and leaves like those of a Fuchsia or Escallonia! What will Calceolaria fanciers say to this? and what may we not expect in the way of hybrids between it and the finer flowered kinds? Another object of interest was Mr. Fortune's Yellow China Rose, which is, however, not yellow at all, but a salmon; and altogether we fear that the flower will not realise the expectations formed of it. Finally, Mr. Jackson, of Kingston, sent a very beautiful white Rhododendron; and another curiously spotted one came from Mr. Gaines.