This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The rage for horticultural novelties has thrown many old and deserving favourites into the background. However trite the old adage may be, that novelty is not necessarily improvement, we do not seem to acknowledge it otherwise than in theory. A modern horticultural enthusiast does not admire a plant for its beauty, or for the associations which cling around it, - the talisman, by-the-by, which must ever elevate the pursuit of gardening beyond a mere mechanical art; - he admires it only for its rarity. With such I can evince no sympathy; I love a plant for its beauty - "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever".
And believing that among the readers of the Florist there are many-kindred spirits, I propose to drag from their comparative obscurity some of the old beauties of the greenhouse and garden.
For nearly a century and a half has the beautiful plant whose modern name gives the title to this paper occupied our greenhouses. I know not if it ever attracted the attention it deserves; certain it is that in the present day we do not meet with it in the degree of excellence it is capable of attaining. Easy of propagation and of growth, and magnificent in appearance when in bloom, it becomes a matter of surprise that it should be neglected. It can be grown and flowered in any-sized pot, from a 60 to a No. 1; it is equally adapted for the greenhouse of the amateur, or the more assuming conservatories of large establishments; and among the numerous exquisite plants which now crowd our collections, it would be difficult to rival a well-grown specimen of the old Kalosanthes coccinea.
As a preliminary in its successful cultivation, we must recollect that its flowers are produced only on shoots of two seasons' growth; consequently it is requisite to provide two sets of plants to keep up a yearly display. I will suppose the cultivator to possess some old straggling plants now out of bloom, and that he wishes to grow and flower some handsome specimens. He must cut back the blooming shoots pretty freely, and all straggling growths, in order to form the foundation of a symmetrical plant. All the tops of shoots which have not bloomed may be employed as cuttings. But we will first dispose of the old plants, and then take up the cuttings, and see how we can develope a handsome specimen. Place the old pruned plants in some cool place, withholding water till the old wood has " broken" freely. There will be a vast quantity of shoots beyond what will be required; thin them judiciously; and when the plant is fairly growing, turn it out of its old pot, reduce the ball, repot it in a smaller pot, place it in a cool frame till the young roots begin to appear through the new earth, gradually harden the plant by the application of plenty of air and solar influence, and give it a larger pot; shift it as often as the pot it occupies becomes filled with roots, if ycu require a large specimen; and get it well established in its blooming pot by the time you "house" your greenhouse plants in autumn.
And bear in mind that, although a succulent, and that it may be the winter season, your plant will require a considerable amount of water. I shall have more to say on this point presently. In the ensuing spring, or early summer, according to circumstances, you will be amply repaid for all your labours. Now for our cuttings.
Select some of the more robust pieces, of which we spoke just now, prepare them as cuttings, and place each in a small sixty pot, in a sandy compost. Here let me remind you, that the plants have extremely delicate hair-like roots. Place the cuttings in your propagating frame; a cold pit will do. As soon as they are rooted, cut each down to within an inch or so of the soil, and replace them in their nursery till they have "broken," which they will do at every eye. Remove them to a more airy place, and when established repot them; which continue to do, even in the first winters of their mers, Cenotaphiums, Miltons, Proteus, etc.; still, the general bloom justifies our preceding remarks; it was not good.
Of Mr. Betteridge's we can speak differently; his general bloom was good, and included the sterling varieties usually found; for the best of these we refer our readers to our report of the South-London Floricultural Society's May show, where this grower successfully exhibited (see page 174).
The same may be said of the bloom at Mr. Lawrence's, of Hampton, Middlesex. His winning stand was duly reported in our pages. We hope this grower will excuse our stating, that he grows many flowers whose room might be better occupied; as a successful cultivator and very liberal dealer, we feel the greatest pleasure in stating that, for growth and quality, Mr. L. is not easily equalled, which may also be said of the comforts to be found at his inn, the Red Lion, whether at the blooming or planting season. The latter reminds us of an old caterer for Florists, on whom, in the course of" our ramble," we made a call. We only wish the same care and attention was bestowed on his bed of Tulips as is given to his guests at the Star Nursery and Hotel, Slough, by Mr. W. Bragg. His Tulips must have better attention, for they really deserve it.
At the Royal Nursery we found the utmost done with the means at command; the growth was fine, the general bloom good; yet much remains to be accomplished, and time only can bring about the splendid collection that we have there seen under the canvass of Mr. C. Turner, whose fame as a Florist is so well known to all our readers. His flowers, Duchess of Sutherland, Queen Victoria (Groom), Hamlet (Brown), Polydorus (Tyso), Vivid, Duke of Devonshire, Polyphemus, and those he exhibited (see p. 175), were very fine. The Chellaston varieties, as grown here, were, by comparison, decidedly bad.
We visited some other beds; but when we can say nothing in commendation, we prefer being silent; and the more particularly so, as much which was to be found fault with was fairly attributable to an ungenial season.