This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
WE believe there is not a lover and cultivator of flowers that would not become a raiser of seedlings, if he once made the attempt; for although year after year he might find his productions surpassed by those of others, yet the hope of succeeding some day would lead him to persevere. To those who may feel inclined to make the attempt we would offer a little advice, founded on an experience of many years; and if our readers will follow it, they will find their reward in the avoidance of many difficulties and disappointments. First-rate productions raised from seed are almost invariably obtained from large numbers; - for instance, Auriculas, Polyanthuses, Pansies, Tulips, etc, which require no glass to cover them in their seedling-beds, rarely yield a variety surpassing their predecessors, and every year increases this difficulty. The same may be said of Fuchsias, Calceolarias, Pelargoniums, and all those species requiring heated glass erections to cultivate them in, and of Cinerarias, which can be wintered well in pits and frames.
Since, then, large numbers must be raised to give any chance of success, it behoves the amateur to consider well what room he can afford for their cultivation in the best manner; for a crowded, half-starved condition is the ruin of all young stock, whether animal or vegetable. There is no difficulty in obtaining seed; the difficulty lies in appropriating suitable space and time for the after-management of the plants. This clearly understood, the next thing the amateur has to do is, to procure, if he has not already got them, some of the finest varieties in present cultivation, discarding every thing else with an unsparing, unpitying eye. From these alone he must save his seed; and he must carefully note and mark the produce of the different plants; for it will be found that some of the most superior flowers in every respect never bring a good seedling, whilst some with glaring defects are as prolific of a fine offspring.
The raiser of seedlings alone knows what a fund of enjoyment the pursuit ever affords him. At this sweet time of year, when the April showers are refreshing our seedling-beds, and filling our glass erections with moisture so congenial to their tenants, with what pleasure do we return to our gardens! All is promise and expectation. If we have disappointment in quarters where we had hoped the most, we have gratifications where we least expected to find them.
All that can be said in praise of the game of chess can be said in favour of raising seedling flowers. It requires forethought, patience, skill, study, determination to succeed, modesty in victory, and good temper in defeat. Our excellent correspondent " Iota" wrote wisely when he said, "I do not scruple boldly to avow before the most fastidious, that it is a pursuit not unworthy of a wise man, nor unbefitting a good one; it is elegant, instructive, scientific, and full of results. And the reader of his Bible may see, and grow wiser by seeing, in it another instance of the tenure on which he holds his portion on earth; that the ground and the things that grow out of it do not yield to him their advantages without the labour of his hands and the exercise of his intelligence."*