This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The Ranunculus Asiaticus is generally believed to be indigenous to Turkey and Persia. It has long been cultivated in this country, but the precise time of its introduction is involved in obscurity. John Gerarde, a herbalist of celebrity, and who is reputed to have had a choice botanic garden in Holborn in the year 1596, wrote concerning the Ranunculus; and about the same time Parkinson, in his Paradisus Terres-tris, specifically enumerates several varieties of this flower.
The Dutch, who have long been noted for floral pursuits, were early acquainted with the cultivation of the Ranunculus, and some of their catalogues, about a century ago, contained several hundred names. Van Oosten, the Leyden gardener, whose work was printed in English in 1703, says, at page 103: "There are two sorts of Ranunculus, single and double. The double ones are of one colour, or striped. The striped we have all sorts of colours, black and white striped with several colours, and the same is also in the single ones. This flower is admired because of their beautiful high colours, that dazzle one's sight when the sun shineth on them." Mason, formerly of Fleet Street, was a large importer of Dutch bulbs. His catalogue of 1820 contains nearly 400 sorts of Ranunculus. Many of these have been discarded, but among them were flowers of the dark scarlet and striped classes, which have not yet been surpassed; such as L'Œil Noir, Naxara, Viola le vrai Noir, Her van Gom Montauban, Melange, etc.
Between 1815 and 1820 must be regarded as a new era in Ranunculus culture. English florists, who had hitherto been dependent on continental growers for their gems, about this time commenced raising Ranunculuses from seed. The Rev. W. Williamson and Mr. Tyso were perhaps the earliest and most successful raisers in England who gave the results of their persevering skill to the world; and in Scotland, Messrs. Waterston and Lightbody were early initiated in the art of raising seedlings. Varieties of this fine flower, therefore, soon became innumerable; and within these last seven years many splendid additions, with brilliant edgings and spots on white and yellow grounds, have been produced. Of these, hardly a fair type existed in the early reminiscences of our present cultivators, shewing that great advances have been made in bringing to perfection this beautiful tribe of flowers.
The varieties which illustrate our present Number were raised from seed by Mr. Tyso, of Wallingford, who, as we have stated, has been eminently successful with this flower. Our drawings were taken from specimens forwarded to us in June last. Aspirant possesses a pure lemon-ground colour, with distinct edging. Captivator, a yellow ground, with beautiful scarlet mottling. Dr. Horner obligingly forwarded to us the bloom of a beautiful seedling raised by Mr. Lightbody, of Falkirk, but it unfortunately reached us in such bad condition, that we could not make a coloured drawing of it, to combine with Mr. Tyso's varieties, as we had wished.
The following are select, first-class flowers, deserving the attention of every cultivator, viz. Flaminius, Herald, Delectus, Gem, Talisman, Alexis, Marquis of Hereford, Paragon, Sir John de Graeme, Glennelg, Creon.