This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
"Now the leaf Incessant rustles from the mournful grove;" and the partially denuded tree.?, from the branches of which the condensed fog drips like a shower of tears, seem, to be weeping over the loss of their green mantles.
"Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields; And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race Their sunny robes resign".
Although this aspect of desolation is caused by the unchangeable laws of Nature, yet no true lover of flowers can repress a feeling of sorrow for the loss of his favourites. It will be well, therefore, to divert the mind from dwelling upon and deploring that which is unavoidable, by planning and preparing for that hopeful season, when " The penetrative sun, His force deep darting to the dark retreat Of vegetation, sets the steaming power At large".
It is presumed that amateur managers of gardens have, during the past flowering season, made notes of any defective arrangements that may have been apparent as regards colour, stature, and habit of the various plants composing the beds, and have determined upon whatever improvements their resources may enable them to make. Some part of this innovation upon former systems might possibly be the employment of early-blooming plants, in accordance with the hints we have before given; and if circumstances should have prevented the necessary preparations from being made during the last month, they ought to be commenced immediately. Hardy plants, whether herbaceous or woody, succeed better when transplanted in autumn than in spring; and, in addition to this, another great advantage is gained by doing every thing that can be done before that busiest season of the gardener's year comes on. Trees and shrubs of all kinds may therefore be removed now with almost perfect safety, if the operation is properly performed, though the end of September and beginning of October is perhaps preferable for conifers and evergreens generally; that most desirable of all under-shrubs, the Rhododendron, might, however, be safely transplanted at any time up to April, or even later if the weather is moist, as its numerous fibrous roots retain so much soil amongst them, that it is next to impossible to take up a plant without its having what some planters so much covet - a ball of earth attached to the roots.
This plant is specially mentioned for the purpose of correcting the erroneous but general notion that it will thrive only in peat-earth, whereas we lately saw it in Messrs. Lane's nursery at Great Berkhampstead, growing and thriving well in the common soil of the locality, a sandy loam; also at the place from whence this is written, there are immense bushes of Rhododendron ponticum and its varieties growing and flowering freely in very poor sand. Even where the soil is not naturally suitable, it might be made so to a limited extent by mixing rotten leaves and sand with it; and if the means of cultivating only a few plants of this beautiful tribe can be attained in this manner, the amateur gardener might profitably amuse himself by hybridising and raising seedlings. By selecting distinct and striking varieties to commence with, and judiciously blending the most desirable properties of two dissimilar kinds, such as the late blossoming of Rhododendron maximum with the high colour of R. Russellianum, or the fine foliage and hardihood of the true R. alta-clerense, etc, a most valuable breed might be obtained, or rather increased, as there already exist several new varieties in which large and high-coloured flowers are combined with late blooming.
Perhaps, also, some of the recent importations from Northern India (which will soon become common) may be found useful for giving improved form and colour to the common kinds. The subject of shrubs and trees is, however, too important to be dismissed in a page or two, and we shall therefore leave it to be treated on by our successor in this part of the Florist, For the same reason we have purposely avoided giving detailed directions for the management of greenhouse plants, that being a subject sufficient in itself to occupy the space allotted to the Ladies' Page.
As regards the winter management of the plants which have been potted for the flower-garden, it may be advisable to caution inexperienced gardeners against the too liberal use of fire and water. No more fire-heat must be given than is necessary for preventing the access of frost to them and to expel damp, and no more water than is necessary to prevent them from actually flagging for the want of it; for too much warmth only excites such plants into unnatural growth at a season when they ought to be at rest, and too much moisture softens their tissue by filling their vessels with fluid, engenders damp, and thus causes them to be more susceptible of injury by cold. When brick pits or wooden frames are used for the purpose of wintering plants, and leaves or stable-dung are employed as a warming agent in place of hot-water pipes or smoke-flues, such fermenting materials must be built up on all sides of the pit or frame as high as its top. A substantial lining of leaves, covered by some long litter or fern, will keep out a severe frost, if the lights are also weil protected; for which purpose straw mats, or thatched wooden frames made to fit the lights, or boarded shutters with a little dry hay spread between them and the glass, are perhaps as good as any thing.
The lights should be drawn off for an hour or two on fine dry days, and air must be freely given by tilting them whenever the weather is suitable; dead leaves or other decaying matter must also be frequently removed by hand-picking.
Although it will be impossible at this season to maintain that order and cleanliness which so greatly enhance the enjoyment of a pleasure-ground, still the falling leaves ought not to be suffered to accumulate on the walks and in the immediate vicinity of the dwelling-house, where, in addition to their unsightliness, the exhalations arising from decaying matter would be insalubrious. When the leaves have all fallen, they should be raked up and carried away, either to be employed for some such purpose as that above mentioned, or to be laid in a heap to rot into leaf-mould. It might then be advisable to mow the lawn once more, which will greatly improve its appearance through the winter months, and also facilitate that troublesome work in spring.
J. B. Whiting.
Before concluding the desultory instructions which it has been our task to furnish for the lady and amateur readers of the Florist, it will be advisable to correct any errors and to supply any omissions that may have been made.
In addition to the flower-garden plants heretofore recommended, the following will be found worth notice. Verbenas: Laura, deep pink; Letitia, deep rose; Perrier, bright rosy pink; L'Ardoise, blue; Phaeton, dark crimson; Madame Liencourt, claret; Cyparisse, rosy purple, light eye; Gloire de Paris, deep crimson; Lord of the Isles, distinct colour, something between lilac and pink; Baucis, purple. We have also seen an unnamed seedling, raised by Messrs. Ivery and Son, of Dorking, which promises to make an admirable bedding variety.
Those who are partial to veined Petunias should procure Flora M'lvor, Splendens, Beauty of Rushbrook, Cserulescens, Ellen Ma-vourneen, and Exquisite. The King of Crimsons is a fine glowing colour, and Beauty of Prospect Hill is one of the best of the white -throated kinds.
Purchasers of perennial Phloxes who may not have had an opportunity of making their own selection, as advised at p. 252, will not be disappointed if they procure any of the following kinds: Comte de Flandres, Pieta, Modesta, Eliza, Elegantissima, Exquisite, Ccelestis, Arsinoe, Boileau; Minna Troil, Alba Kermesina, Standard of Perfection, Herman Ksegel, Madame Joly.
We would likewise call the attention of amateurs to the showy genus Mimulus, of which a fine variety is figured in the present volume; and other desirable kinds in the same way are called Rubi-nus and Conductor. M. cardinalis is a very different-looking species; and it also has been improved by hybridising; the varieties named Hodsoni, Fraseri, Moodiana, Maclainii, and others, being the result. The first three are descendants of the old M. luteus, and are consequently hardy; the others are less so, but make fine summer border-plants, and the whole are very ornamental when cultivated in pots.
The improved varieties of the Hollyhock are exceedingly handsome, and ought to be grown wherever there is a border devoted to herbaceous plants. In places of limited extent, the kitchen-garden quarters are often bordered with flowers; and for such situations Hollyhocks, alternating with or behind a row of Dahlias, are admirably adapted. The names and colours of the leading sorts having been published in this work in the reports of the exhibitions of the South-London Floricultural Society, etc, it is not necessary to repeat them here, especially as first-rate kinds are not yet so numerous as to make a selection necessary.
It must be understood, however, that the Verbenas and other things mentioned in these papers are not the very newest, nor possibly the very best that are procurable; our object having been to indicate varieties whose habit of growth and vivid colouring make them suitable for planting in masses, for which purpose other properties than size and shape of individual flowers - essential points in the eyes of a professed Florist - are requisite. A close and compact mode of growth, and bright-coloured flowers freely produced, are of much greater value to a flower-gardener than all the properties required in order to stamp a new variety with a Florist's approbation.
Upon looking over the previous Ladies' Pages, we have not detected many mistakes of consequence, although no doubt much useful information has been omitted, especially as regards the ornamental trees and shrubs best adapted for small gardens. As before remarked, however, this matter can be discussed in future Ladies' Pages; or, in case it should be thought better to incorporate this portion of the Florist with the monthly calendar of operations, so as to make both parts more generally useful, we will undertake to write an occasional paper upon this subject. One error demands correction at page 106, where a Scarlet Geranium named Reidii is highly spoken of; but further experience has proved it to be scarcely, if at all, distinguishable from an older variety called Master Squeers. It is perhaps hardly worth while to allude to some few typographical errors which escaped notice till too late to correct them; we will therefore only remark that the botanical name of the Throatwort Campanula ought to have been C. Trachelium.
In closing these papers, we may be permitted to express a hope that some few have derived profitable instruction from them, and that the result may be seen in their gardens being more beautiful in the coming season than they have been in the past.
J. B. Whiting.