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.
At p. 234 of the August 1877 Monthly, I referred to the excellence of the Cinerarias grown by my neighbor, Mr. Paterson, of Oakley, Water-town, and now (Feb. 11) I send you a few blos-somsfrom the Oakley greenhouses. Their chief merits consist in the size, beauty and purity of coloring of the blossoms, and the massive proportions of the plants, points gained and maintained by a careful selection of home-saved seed and good cultivation. No attempt is made at the florist's nicety of perfection in blossom, Mr. P.'s end being to have fine specimens for conservatory decoration and for furnishing cut flowers to have each plant bear a great wealth of large and brilliant blossoms, and this purpose he certainly has attained. Mr. P-neither exhibits nor sells plants or seeds, therefore those who wish to see them should see them at Oakley, where Calceolarias, Cyclamens, Prim-roses,Azaleas and other flowering and greenhouse and stove plants are cultivated with equal success, and a more civil, cordial, and generous-minded person than Mr. P. you will seldom meet.
Among the blossoms sent I have numbered a few, so that you may specialty notice them. No. 1 is 22/4 in. across; No. 2, 21/4 in. and almost semi-double; No. 3, 25/8 in.; No. 4, 21/4 in., and of a glowing, purplish violet; and No. 5 over 21/4 in. and goodly florist's flowers.
Mr. Paterson saves his seed from the finest flowered plants and sows it about the end of June, in pans of fine, light soil in a cold frame - one of the spent Spring beds. As soon as the seedlings are fit to handle he pricks them off into other pans, and when they grow a little, pots them singly, and afterwards re-pots them two or three times just as they demand it. He makes it a point never to allow his Cinerarias to become pot-bound before they are shifted, or show flower-buds before they receive their final potting, which is usually in late October or November, and sometimes a few in mid-winter, when they will be in from seven to ten inch pots. From the time they are sown up till November, or as late as frost can well be excluded from frames by means of a straw mat over the sashes, the Cinerarias are grown in cold frames. Just before hard frosts are likely to occur, however, they are transposed from the frames to the graperies, where, on elevated table-like benches, they are wintered with a minimum temperature of 38°.
While in the frames they are roomily arrangedr kept near the glass, abundantly watered at the root and overhead, and kept as cool as practicable by a little whitewash shading on the sashes, and liberal ventilation. In the graperies they are treated to generous libations and almost daily sprinklings, and when it is evident that the pots are filled with roots and the flower-buds are being formed, a little liquid manure is given, until the flowers open, when its application is discontinued. The first appearance of flower buds, too, is pinched out, in order to secure a wider and more compact head.
The most forward of the Cinerarias are placed in a division of the grapery where the minimum temperature is 40° to 44°, and are consequently rushed earlier into blossom than those wintered in cooler quarters. In this way a succession of well-flowered plants is maintained from the end of January until up into April. A high temperature curls and weakens the foliage and therefore is avoided, and green-fly, so persistent an enemy to these plants, is, by frequent doses of cold tobacco-smoke, denied an existence.
Grown as above, these plants in eight and nine inch pots are now (Feb. 11) perfect massive specimens from two feet to three and one-fourth feet through, with large, succulent, deep green leaves and wide-spread but dense heads of flower buds. The more advanced are in blossom and arranged in the conservatory, and another large succession will yet be obtained from the warmest grapery; those in the latest grapery are not much more than showing flower buds.
[The flowers were very fine and created much attention at the rooms of the Germantown Horticultural Society, where they were exhibited. - Ed. G. M.J