This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
"Now, flaming up the heavens, the potent sun Melts into limpid air the high-raised clouds And morning fogs, that hover'd round the hills In parti-colour'd bands. * * *
Who can unpitying see the flowery race, Shed by the morn, their new-flushed bloom resign Before the parching beam? "
In the parching weather which often prevails at this season of the year, the desolation alluded to above can only be prevented by copious evening waterings; not a slight sprinkling over the leaves, which half an hour's bright sunshine serves to evaporate, but a sufficient quantity to moisten the earth as far as the roots extend. When, therefore, the soil in which the roots have to find their food is very dry, it is better to water a couple of beds efficiently than to merely lay the dust over a dozen: so, a certain number, according to the extent of the garden and the means at command, should be effectually done every day, until the whole are gone over, when, if necessary, the same process can be repeated. But it is not to be understood that slight sprinklings over the foliage of plants do them no good; on the contrary, such dewings are of great benefit in the evenings of hot days, when the perspiration from the leaves has been excessive, only they must be applied in conjunction with, not as substitutes for, copious root-waterings. It will be found, however, that after bedded plants have well established themselves, flowers will be produced more profusely in comparatively dry than in wet weather, - a fact which should serve as a guide when applying water artificially.
Any Crocuses, or other spring bulbs, that need removal, should now be taken out of the ground (provided the leaves have all withered, which is a sign that the roots are at rest), dried in the shade, cleaned, and divided, preparatory to being replanted. Much might be effected with this gay and many-coloured flower in enlivening the dreariness of our gardens early in the year.
The tubers of the single Anemone are sometimes taken up immediately after the blooming is past, and before the leaves die, to be temporarily replanted in other ground, where they can have time to ripen. This treatment, however, can only be tolerated when some strong reason can be given for its adoption, - such as a necessity for replanting the bed they occupy with other flowers. This removal must be carefully performed, or the tubers cannot be depended upon for blooming strong and well next spring. The Anemone is so attractive through its glowing and various colours, and so useful through presenting this attraction for a long time in succession, and in accommodating itself to widely different modes of treatment, that it is deserving of a place even in the smallest garden. Seed sown now will produce flowering plants early next summer.
Many other kinds of bulbous plants might be advantageously employed in the flower-garden to a greater extent than they now are generally, although, for the most part, they are more fitting for small than for large masses. A species of Hyacinth (Hyacinthus amethys-tinus), which blossoms early in June, is a most desirable little plant, on account of the bright blue colour of its graceful bell-like flowers, which resemble in appearance those of some kinds of Squill (Scilla). Of this last genus, two or three of the dwarf early-blooming species - as verna, sibirica, and bifolia - have very pretty blue flowers, and there are white and pink varieties of the latter species; but the finest of the whole is the Peruvian Squill, which exhibits its large heads of blue flowers in June. This kind would make a very showy bed; only, as it gives no succession of bloom, the bed would require to be managed something after the following manner: - Plant strong bulbs in autumn, about eighteen inches apart; then prick in between them plants of some upright-growing annual - Erysimum Perofskianum, for example - which would blossom in April and May. Remove the annuals before they interfere injuriously with the Squills; and when the beauty of the latter begins to wane, plant between them some other suitable annual - as Zinnia elegans, China Aster, or the Intermediate Stock - plants of which should be kept in small pots for this and similar purposes.
We should thus have a succession of flowers of three different colours: first, the orange Erysimum; then the blue Squill; and lastly, either the red Stock, or the mixed Zinnia, or China Aster. Many similar arrangements might be made with other plants by those who have the necessary means at command.
A plant known as the Feathered Hyacinth (Muscari comosum monstrosum) has a very singular flower, the parts of which are transformed into long filaments, that, twisting themselves together, form a sort of feathery tuft. The colour is a peculiar shade of blue, and this, combined with its odd form, makes it an attractive little plant: it is generally in bloom in June. Other species of Muscari are pretty, especially botryoides, of which there are varieties with dark blue, light blue, and white flowers.
The spring Snow-flake (Leucojum vernum) is an exceedingly interesting March-blooming plant, the flowers of which closely resemble those of that floral harbinger of spring, the Snowdrop; and indeed the plant altogether has the appearance of a tuft of Snowdrops that had taken an extra month's growth before blossoming. This species is rare: not so another kind, which blossoms in the end of April and beginning of May, and which greatly resembles the spring kind in appearance, only it is larger in stature.
The red and the yellow Crown Imperials (Fritillaria imperialis) are well known; so likewise are several of the dwarf species; but there is one of the latter class with white flowers (named prcecox by Sweet), which is seldom seen in gardens, although extremely pretty.
The Dog's-tooth Violet (Erythronium dens canis) is common; but a variety with light-coloured flowers is less known. These two kinds mixed would make a pretty small bed in the end of March and beginning of April, if managed similarly to the Squill before mentioned.
Cyclamen coum, C. hedergefolium, and C. vernum, thrive very well in light soil and a sheltered place, such as the front of a greenhouse wall; and in a similar situation several species of Oxalis will succeed. The best of these is O. Bowiei, which makes an elegant late bed if the bulbs are potted and excited early in spring, and the plants turned out afterwards.
Amaryllis Belladonna is a beautiful thing, which, although not to be called absolutely hardy, will thrive where it has only a slight protection. If the bulbs are planted three or four inches deep, and close to the front wall of a plant-house, its lovely pale rose-coloured blossoms will push up strongly about the middle of summer.
The different species of Ixia, Sparaxis, and Tritonia, are sometimes tried in such places; these, however, to do them justice, ought to be planted in sandy peat and covered with glass during winter, which is an indulgence their great beauty amply entitles them to.
Such a pit would also accommodate many other gems, - as Anoma-theca cruenta, Vieusseuxia pavonia and glaucopis, Tigridias, Cum-mingia trimaculata, etc.
Another hardy bulbous plant is Zephyranthes Candida, formerly called Amaryllis Candida, which - a rather uncommon character amongst bulbs - produces its pretty white blossoms in September. All the culture required is to preserve the leaves from injury while growing, and to take up and separate the bulbs when the tufts get too large. Associated with this is Sternbergia lutea, the flowers of which are of a rich yellow colour. These planted alternately along the margin of a flower-bed have a very good effect.
Some other bulbous-rooted flowers, especially the genera Gladiolus and Iris, remain to be noticed on another occasion.
J. B. Whiting.