This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
As we have not had in the pages of the Florist and Garden Miscellany a pattern or description of stands for shewing Pansies, perhaps the above will be found acceptable to some of your readers, and at the same time will assist me in illustrating my ideas on judging collections of flowers. Zinc will be found preferable to tin for making them of; the top part should be painted white, the sides green, and the size, say for a stand of twelve, 13 inches long, and 10 broad; 4 inches deep at the back, and 2 1/2 in the front. No doubt some will prefer a larger, and others a smaller size; only I would recommend, whatever it may be, that the stands are all as much alike as possible at each exhibition, for when staged, the effect is thereby much enhanced.
We observe that some writers say, We have now got the Pansy to such perfection, that any flower with two decided shades of groundcolour, with a notch in the lower petal, without substance, or with serrated edges, or that is not circular, or with a split petal, or otherwise in the least mutilated, ought to disqualify a stand. Now I say it ought not to do any such thing. To condemn a stand of twenty-four or thirty-six first-rate blooms, as a whole, on account of one having a radical defect, is something like a schoolmaster chastising twenty-three or thirty-five innocent youngsters for the offence of one guilty urchin; for my part, I cannot perceive any more justice in one case than in the other. When a prize is offered for the best stand of twenty-four or thirty-six flowers, it does not mean (if I understand the matter aright, the best one, two, or three in the stand, but the best taken as a whole; then why, on account of one or two defective flowers, condemn it, as if the whole of the other blooms, which might be unobjectionable, had nothing whatever to do with the matter. 1 am quite aware that it is much easier to find fault than to point out a more excellent way; yet I shall attempt to do so, with all due deference to those who have favoured us with their ideas on judging Florists' flowers.
I think the best way of proving seedling Pansies, or seedlings of any kind, and of ascertaining which are the best in different localities, would be, to shew single blooms, and divide them into classes; for instance, suppose six prizes were offered for the best Pansies on white ground, and that Mrs. Beck (Turner's) should be placed first, followed by Helen (Hunt's), Almayor, and others; although I might never have seen or heard of Mrs. Beck, if I knew the whole of the other flowers, I should naturally conclude Mrs. Beck was worth adding to a collection.
I am quite an advocate for shewing single blooms of Pansies (in classes) as well as in collections; and for a beginning, I would have seven classes as under; if the funds of a society would not admit of six* prizes in each class, let the first only have a prize, and let the others be nominal.
1. White grounds, edged, in style such as Blue Perfection, Blue Fringe, etc. 2. Yellow ground, edged, style of Lucy Ashton, Mary Jane, etc. 3. White ground, belted, style of Mrs. Beck, Helen, etc.
4. Yellow ground, belted, style of Duke of Norfolk, Zabdi, etc. etc.
5. Dark selfs. 6. Yellow selfs. 7. White selfs.
Class 6 to include all shades from buff" to deep gold colour. Class 5 all the shades from light purple to black. Classes 4, 3, 2, 1, if the style and ground-colour be correct, the edging or belting may be any colour you please.
If four or five hundred single blooms were exhibited, the committee of a society (or those appointed by them) would, without occupying much time, place all the colours or classes together; and the judges should select half a dozen of the best.
It is a question with me, in shewing stands of six, twelve, eighteen, or twenty-four Pansies, whether the number of classes in each ought not to be specified.
Now what I want in judging collections is, to carry out the principle of class-shewing, by comparing the same varieties with each other; and if the same variety is not in all the stands, then take the same class, marking the stand above each flower with a soft black-lead pencil (see woodcut, representing a stand of twelve Pansies after being judged - six competitors); by this mode every single bloom in each stand is noticed, and taken at what it is worth in comparison with others; and by adding all the numbers together, you come at the exact value of each stand.
Whitby. W. F.
[We have given our correspondent's ideas on the subject, and a woodcut from the drawing of his stand; but we do not agree with all our friend advances. We give a description of a stand used at our Metropolitan Exhibitions, which is copied and getting into use in many parts of the country where it has been seen. The distances are arranged for full-sized flowers, and it will be well for growers to try and produce blooms to suit. We hope our correspondents in the North will have a few made, and try them: we shall be glad to give any further particulars, if required. The outside appearance is that of a neat box, painted dark rosewood, and highly varnished; the lid attached by hook-and-eye hinges, and locked. The lid removed shews a stand of four rows of Pansy-blooms, six in each, arranged on a zinc-plate one-eighth of an inch thick, painted green, with a slight yellow tinge, and varnished- Length of box 1 foot 6 inches, 12 1/2 inches wide, and 3 inches deep; three-eighths of an inch thick, and with a little beading inside, on which the plate rests, so as to lie flush with its edges all round. The tubes are soldered to the under part of the plate flush with the back of the holes, to receive the stalk, but receding in the front to allow of the flower lying well.
These holes are three-fourths of an inch long, and half an inch wide, the tubes beneath are 2 inches deep, 1 inch long, and five-eighths wide. The front holes are 1 1/8 inch from the edge of the plate, and 1 1/2 inch from the side, and the rows are 2 inches above each other. In such a stand medium or small-sized flowers will be lost; but since they can be produced of the requisite size about London, why should they be grown less in the country? We need hardly say that, when placing the stand for exhibition, it can be arranged sloping to any angle by placing something underneath it at the back.]
* We think three prizes are plenty. - Editor.