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.
Your correspondent, on page 2 of January Monthly accuses me of over-estimating the value of the above acquisition to our list of plants for our-door culture. As he is from England quite recently, he ought to know better than I of their merits there; but on page 202 of the September number of"The Garden," 1877, published at London, I think an unpredjudiced reader will find my statement in part, if not wholly substantiated; and I suppose the anthorities there given are equal to Mr. W. Falconer's experience, or the Editor would not give them his unqualified approval by publishing without comment. One writer says :"No one who has not seen these most beautiful and invaluable plants, either bedded out in masses in circular beds slightly raised in the center, or as single specimens, each in the center of a small round bed, can form any adequate idea of what a brilliant and continuous display of color they provide during the whole of the three summer months, from the middle of June to the middle of September. Also, that even when in full bloom they are almost insensible of the heaviest rain, as torrents which would knock every blossom off a bed of Zonale Pelargoniums (Geraniums are so called in England) do not cause a single bloom to drop before its time, merely making the pliant foot-stalks bend their heads to the storm, raising their lovely blossoms in all their brilliancy and beauty on the reappearance of the sun, when the storm has passed." And much more in the same strain is said by Mr. W. E. Gumbleton, for whom Van Houtte, of Ghent, the foremost and most successful raiser of the best varieties, has seen fit to name one of his two (only) new ones the past season.
Could more be said for the famous "General Grant" itself? Another correspondent on the same page begins a short notice, equally laudatory, by saying :"We have no plant the equal of the Fuchsia for in-door and out-door decorative purposes, unless it be the new race of Tuberose-rooted Begonias," andgoes on to describe those of Messrs. Veitch's collection at Chelsea, and closes by saying : When grown out of doors, one great advantage they possess over most other plants is that no amount of wet appears to have the slightest influence in damaging their flowers, which they go on producing until cut off by frost." In favored localities the tubers will sometimes survive the Winter; and when lifted, they can be made to bloom in the greenhouse till after Christmas, as they have done at Norfolk this season. He further says,"For planting on rock-work, these Begonias have few equals".
I call this "practical experience "of the right sort, and it must be borne in mind that it is only since 1874 that they have been grown, even in England, to any great extent.
Now for what they will do here in America, and this I can testify to from personal knowledge. They stood the blaze of a Virginia sun in the open air unprotected by any shade whatever, both planted out and in pots, all last Summer, till frost cut them down, and were a perfect mass of continuous bloom. The severe storms and showers (and any soldier who has campaigned in Virginia knows what thunder-storms are here as well as blazing suns) have always left them uninjured, fully corroborating the above quoted testimony.
If your correspondent will visit Norfolk we will convince him with regard to this matter. One thing I ought to add for the information of amateurs who*, like myself, will try to raise them from seed and will fail four times out of five, that they require unusual care and attention, the seed being as one as a mere powder; but when fairly up and transplanted, it is wonderful how rapidly they push forward and begin to throw out their rich and charming blossoms. I may be too hasty, but I predict for this lovely species a success far surpassing any plant of recent introduction for similar purposes.