This section is from the book "How To Make A Flower Garden", by Wilhelm Miller. Also available from Amazon: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques.
And this was the order and duration of their bloom: Giant and Paper White narcissi, December 10th, for four weeks; white hyacinths, December 20th, for three weeks; cyclamen, January 1st to May 15th; freesia, January 10th, for six weeks; blue hyacinths, January 20th, for two weeks; pink hyacinths, February 1st, for two weeks; Narcissus gloriosus, February 1st, for four weeks; yellow hyacinths, February 10th,' for two weeks; Narcissus Horsfieldii, February 10th, for six weeks; grape hyacinths, February 27th, for three weeks; Narcissus Emperor, February 28th, for three weeks.
We planted the bulbs in pure sandy leaf-mould mixed with a little commercial fertiliser, first placing good drainage (stones) and plenty of charcoal in the bottom of the pot. One season we used garden soil, and were much troubled with caking, worms, and insects. With the leaf-mould we have not been troubled with worms or insects of any kind, and the earth has been perfection as far as consistency goes.
We planted three Roman hyacinths in a six-inch pot (and we-learned that it is wise to plant only one colour in a pot, as they bloom at different times), two Horsfieldii, three Emperor, six Poeticus, and six Spanish iris, each in eight-inch pots; three Paper Whites, three Giant Whites, six freesias, and three Gloriosus, each in six-inch pots; six grape hyacinths in five-inch pot, and we found we might just as well have had twelve in the same sized pot. We planted two scillas in an eight-inch pot, and were much interested to see what they would do. The catalogue described them as bearing large clusters of blossoms twelve inches in diameter. When these two bulbs showed seven buds we decided that the entire family would have to move out when they bloomed. It was by planting several bulbs in one pot that we had such continued bloom.
The Paper Whites were glorious, some bulbs sending up three flower-stalks, each one bearing twelve to fourteen blossoms. Giant Whites differ from the Paper Whites only in being a little larger, sturdier, and a little later. The white Roman hyacinths sent up many stalks from each bulb. They have a profusion of leaves - quite different from the common hyacinth that one usually sees in the garden. The white was the first to bloom, the blue following, then the pink, yellow, and red. The blue sent its flower-stalks up very high, and the leaves were so long they curled over in many fantastic ways; the pink had a tendency to bloom in the bulb, and the yellow kept its leaves in a pretty circle around it, reminding one of a canary in its cage. We had one peculiar red one which was bought for pink. It bloomed a good deal like the yellow, only it sent the flowers well above the leaves. The grape hyacinths are like doll-flowers, with their tiny blue bells edged with white.
Glolre de Lorraine Begonia - now a popular winter plant.
Cyclamen? Well, cyclamen is a perfect wonder! Last year we had one bulb which produced for us only four blossoms, and as the baby picked two in their infancy our yield was not great. In the spring it was placed by accident among the empty pots on the north side of the house. In August we found it four new leaves pushing up. It was repotted and placed where the rain could reach it, and left alone until brought in the house. It started to bloom in January, and produced fifty-four elegant blossoms (see page 180). Then there were three little cyclamens besides. One of these had four leaves and twenty-five blossoms. We thought it paid! One bulb lost all its flower-buds but made fine growth for the following year. The blossoms were all different, the large one white with cerise center, one pure white, and the other a lovely pink with a deeper center.
A novel way of growin wild flowers In the home window.
Freesias - sweet, dainty surprises that they are! We always marvel when the buds come out from among the grass-like foliage, then swell and burst into the exquisite yellow, bell-shaped flowers. From our six bulbs we had thirty-four branches of bloom, giving us six weeks of delight in their spicy odour.
The whiteness of the Poeticus Ornatus is equalled only by the dogwood of spring, and Nature certainly used her finest paint-brush when she painted the delicate crimson line on the edge of the cup.
We were a little doubtful about the Narcissus gloriosus, as we had never seen it, but we are friends for life now, for nothing could be lovelier than the long stalk surmounted by fourteen little blossoms with their deep orange cup and cream-white perianth. We asked our little daughter to smell them, and she immediately said, "Apple sauce." Could anything describe their fragrance better?
Then the Horsfieldii, with its long, yellow trumpet and creamy perianth - a flower truly fit for the gods! The perianth measures three and one-half inches in diameter, and the trumpet one and one-half inches long.
Abutilon blooms nearly all the time, and heliotrope, when it once starts, is not far behind.
As the plants came into bud we gave them fertiliser in liquid form once every week or two, and twice during the winter worked a little of the dry food into the earth, being careful not to get it too near the roots.
A Kenilworth ivy and two kinds of asparagus - A. Sprengeri in a hanging basket and A. plumosus on a bracket - completed our garden. That is all, except that we feel we have summer always with us.