This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Talking about Orchids, I may say that General Rathbone mentioned to me, that when he began Orchid-growing several years ago, he knew nothing at all about it, but he got a copy of the Orchid-Grower's Manual, by B. S. Williams, of London, studied it carefully, and adapted his practice to the directions of the Manual, modifying, of course, as he best knew how, to suit our American climate; and what is the result? One of the very healthiest and best-grown collections of Orchids in the United States.
There are other Orchid collections at and near Albany, but not being pre-advised of their being there, unfortunately I had no time to visit them. At other places on the Hudson, I found a few Orchids, but nothing to speak of.
For Orchids, South Amboy is to New Jersey what Albany is to New York. At Such's nurseries, the Orchid collection is very extensive, and for a commercial establishment, the specimens of Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Cypripediums, Angaecums, Vandas, etc, are exceptionally large. Health and vigor are everywhere apparent. The tiny but charming Sophronites were at their best. Most all of them were attached to earthernware Mocks, on which they seemed quite at home. S. grandiflora has the largest and brightest scarlet flowers; cernna, red to orange red; and violacea, mauve to purplish violet. Oncidium ornithorhyncum, growing on similar blocks and in a cool house, had many massive spikes of deliciously fragrant blossoms; and mats of Odontoglossum Rossii majus,withfive blooms on a spike, also depended in the Camellia house. Massive specimens of the ever-blooming Cypripedium Roezlei had many flower stems, and specimens of Cattleya caricinum in 18-inch pans were growing like sedge-grass in a swamp. A plant of Angraeeum eburneum showed nine flower-spikes, and near it was a pan containing a Peristeria elata that showed the ends of three flower-stems which Mr. Taplin says were six feet high when in perfection. He mentioned that he gave these plants plenty roof-room and a rich spongy soil.
The display of Calanthes was fine.
Here, that most beautiful Cape of Good Hope Orchid, Disa grandiflora, is better grown than I know of anywhere else, either in this country or any other. I saw them in perfection in 187G, but when I was there this season it was too late, - the Disas had done blooming. In England, five blooms on a spike is good, and seven is excellent; but Mr. Taplin grows pans of it with from seven to nine blooms on a stem, and several, I forget how many, stems to a pan. It is no mean variety either, for the blooms are of a bright scarlet to crimson color, and 4 inches across.
At Mr. Rathbun's - just beside South Amboy depot - is a very fine collection of Orchids in excellent health and rigid cleanliness. I noticed about a score of plants of Oncidium Papilio in bloom, also a very excellent variety of that most beautiful of butterfly Orchids - O. Kramerianum. O. Rogersii had 149 flowers, and Laelia anceps and autumnalis were nicely in blossom. A few varieties of Lycaste Skinnerii were opening their blossoms, and there was a goodly show of Cypripediums, notably insigne, and a nice little plant of niveum. Mr. R. has some fine plants of Dendrobium Falconerii - one of the loveliest exotics in existence; and Mr. Clements, the gardener, is now resting it in a cool house; he expects it ought to bloom pretty well this year. Mr. C. tells me that Odontoglossum citrosmum is one of the finest and easiest grown species of the genus growing very freely, and to a certainty producing annually in early Summer, its long arching spikes of lovely white flowers; and substantially corroborates his statement.
I never saw so many large plants together of Cypripedium insigne as I did at Bennett's nurseries, at Flatbush, L. I.; there were several scores of them, and all in bloom. Mr. B. also grows Dendrobium nobile in great quantity, for furnishing cut flowers for market. At Mrs. Gardner Brewer's, at Newport, R. I., is a famous collection of Orchids. The plants, particularly the Cattleyas, are small, but their clean fresh leaves and pseudo-bulbs and solid fleshy roots permeating to almost matting the lumpy peat the pots contain, foretell what we may expect as the result of Mr. Hill's practical care. Mr. H. was one of the most noted Orchid growers in England, and apparently his labors are to be as successful here as they were - to my own knowledge - at Manchester, Wandsworth, and Blandford, in England. Here Oncidium Rog-ersii has three spikes - two small and one medium-sized, and some 150 blooms and O. verru-cosum is likewise prettily flowered. The beautiful Cattleya Eldorado splendens is also in bloom, and there is quite a display of Calanthes and Cypripediums.