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.
The following notes, written from memory, are the result of a flying visit during the first fortnight of December.
There is no greater sign of the advancement of horticulture in the East than the increasing demand for, and high appreciation of, Orchideae. Anything and everything is not indiscriminately grown, but the finest species and varieties, and the largest specimens are the most in demand-Big specimens sell at a profit, but little plants-can hardly be got rid of at a sacrifice. Europe and America are scoured for the treasures, and direct importations from Mexico and South; America are often met with. In the interest of some of our prominent orchid owners, J. S.. Rand, Jr., late of Dedham, Mass., is now on a collecting tour to Brazil. The cultivation of most of the tropical species is easier here than in England, but when it comes to Masdevallias and some Odontoglossoms, we have either a deal; to learn or contend with, as regards growing them compared with results in Europe.
On entering the greenhouses at Menand's nurseries at Albany, the first plant I noticed was Vanda coerulea in a suspended basket, and with three spikes, six and nine blooms respectively. Cymbidium Mastersii had three spikes of expanded flowers. Cypripedium hirsutissimum - a very shy bloomer, especially in the case of small plants - had several large waxy flowers, and a specimen of C. Roezlei had four spikes - one a branched one, and several blossoms. Many plants of Odontoglossum grande were growing like weeds, and several of them had three and four spikes of immense flowers. 0. Insleayii, and O. I. leopardinum, were also exceptionally thrifty and in bloom. Mr. M. prefers pot to basket culture for most of his orchids, and I observed most of his Odontoglossums were grown in earthy compost. He also distributed his orchids amongst his general collection of other plants, because he dislikes the formality of an isolated mass of Orchideae. Mr. Corning has an immense collection of orchids; indeed, as far as I know, it is by far the largest in the country. He has many fine specimens, and his Phalaenop-sis - particularly Schilleriana, are large and healthy.
Oncidium tigrinum was prettily in bloom, as was likewise the showy O. Rogersii. O. ornithorhyncum displayed some very handsome spikes, and the white flowering variety, of it - very scarce - was also in bloom. Large plants of Angraecum eburneum showed several bold spikes, and a very fine specimen of Anselia Africana promised a speedy reward. Odonto-glossum grande and Insleayii were both in bloom, and, too, in excellent health. O. Rossii majus was also in flower. Mr. Gray, the gardener, told me that he has difficulty in growing 0. Phataenopsis. I also noticed some of the red-flowering Masdevallias in bloom.
General Rathborne has a select and valuable collection of orchids, but not nearly so many kinds as Mr. Corning has. The general's plants however, are the very pictures of health and vigor, cleanliness and ripeness, and many of them, especially Vandas, are large specimens. Two plants of Vanda coerulea were in flower, each having ten blooms on a spike, and they were lovely. Angraecum eburneum with several long spikes was bursting into bloom, and if I remember rightly it was here I saw A. sesquipedale with two spikes of long-tailed flower-buds. A white Phalaenopsis was in bloom, and the many neighboring spikes that were appearing promised early wealth. Saccolabium giganteum had one developed spike, and Cymbidium Mastersii had three with more to follow. Cypripediums were in great profusion, particularly venustum, one specimen of which had several dozens of flowers.
No shadings whatever are used during the winter months, and the robust sturdiness and flower-promising look of the plants, bespeak their appreciation of the short-day sun.
The general drew my attention to diseased spots in the leaves of some of his Phalaenopsis Schilleriana, and which were spread along the upper surface like large and deep pock-marks. When in England last summer he had a talk with Dominy at Veitch's, about this disease, and he expressed the opinion that he believed it to be the work of parasitic fungi, and recommended the application of powder-sulphur, which the general has applied. Of course the sulphur can only prevent fungoid growth, and not restore to good the evil already done. The general also spoke to me about diseased spots sometimes appearing on the leaves and flowers of his orchids during the summer months. I recommended a little fire-heat by night throughout the whole summer, even if the ventilators be kept open night and day, This is to provide a sweet and constantly circulating atmosphere, and my experience in the United States has proved it an excellent plan and more than worth the money.