This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Originality seems to be the order of the day; men are novelty-mad, and gardeners are bitten. In the leading article of the Gardeners'
Journal of the 16th ult. I see a recommendation elaborately enforced, that Pelargoniums, as well as Roses, should be grown "five, six, or more feet in height." The writer even says that he would insist upon the production at exhibitions "of given portions both of Roses and Pelargoniums trained into a round pyramidal form." The arguments by which this view is supported in the article in question are equally curious in point of good taste and good logic; but I pass these by to deal with the proposal itself, which, coming from the editor of a public gardening journal, demands some attention.
That Roses may be grown in this or any other form is tolerably clear; many Roses may certainly be grown to the height suggested, and I do not imagine that the writer hopes to immortalise himself as an original discoverer by this part of his proposal; but when he speaks of a Pelargonium " of a round pyramidal form, and six feet or more in height," I am tempted, in all teachable humility, to ask how many yards across he would have it? I think I remember hearing a person assert, in argument, that a Geranium might be grown large enough to fill Exeter Hall! I regarded this at the time merely as a magnificent assertion, to be dealt lightly with, because of the vastness, and, to that extent, the poetry of the idea; but here we have a sober, deliberate leading article submitted for our consideration, and therefore to be considered accordingly.
Seriously then, how many generations, let me ask, of long-jointed, weak, weedy, succulent seedlings must be grown, before you can convert this elegant shrub into a creeper or semi-creeper? When you have succeeded in altering its whole character, by giving it a habit which would prevent it from standing upright without support, just conceive what an outrage on floriculture you would have perpetrated! Let any unprejudiced person grow a plant that will support itself - Beck's Rosy Circle for instance - by the side of one that will not, and let him decide which is, or, if the matter is purely conventional, which ought to be the habit of the plant.
Thus much for the good taste of the proposal in question. Do not, however, let it be forgotten that ten thousand Pelargoniums are grown for one that is exhibited; and that, except under first-rate cultivation, they will flower larger and finer in all respects in small pots than in large ones; so that the result of introducing a race of plants, fitted only for training, would be to throw them, to a considerable extent, out of general cultivation.
That Pelargoniums may be grown too dwarfly, and especially if exhibited in large pots, will be admitted by every one who has seen them so exhibited, and with all the trusses standing at the same height; but a Pelargonium trained into "a round pyramidal form," like a Convolvulus, and "six feet or more high," is what I hope never to see!
A. B. C.