This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Herewith I send you an article on the Night Blooming Cereus, which strikes me as a beautiful tribute to that singular flower, and which, I think, would be very appropriate in the columns of the Gardener's Monthly. The plant referred to was sold by us, and we have never been able to learn the name of the variety; and as it has produced such a sensation in Missouri, I would like to know what it is.
The Missouri Statesman, speaking of the famous Cereus Grandiflorus, or Night Blooming Cactus, says:
This species of Night Blooming Cereus is not uncommon, but the specimen recently imported from Virginia by Mrs. Gen. Conway is very unlike any we ever saw or heard of; not in the size or surpassing beauty of its flowers or its singular repugnance to light and long life, but in its lack of the Cactus channelled and jointed columnar and leafless prickly stem. Mrs. Conway's is a shrub of several trunks, four and five feet high, with thick, deep green leaves, the inexplicable and remarkable fact being that the flower is pendant from the edge of the leaves and not from the stem. One night last week the plant bloomed, and during the fleeting hours in which it displayed its remarkable beauties, hundreds of people visited it but to wonder and admire.
A correspondent furnishes the following poetical description of it:
The sunshine of summer,
Its breezes and showers Had decked all the landscape
With verdure and flowers; Giving hue to the eye, did its
Brightness disclose; From the lily's soft tint
To the blush of the rose.
The scene was resplendent,
Unrivaled its bloom - Nor could blossoms of Eden
More sweetly perfume - Every emulous flower did
Its beauties display, And all nature was clad
In her richest array.
Yet one virgin blossom,
All charming and bright, Its loveliness modestly hid
From the light. Like a gem in a casket
'Twas closely enshrined, Avoiding the sun
And the gaze of mankind.
But a moment 'tis destined
To flourish on earth, Brief emblem of excellence,
Virtue and worth; And of love, too, which
Planted by destiny's dart, Blooms, but in seclusion; Its shrine is the heart.
When the bright orb of day
Had retired to rest, And the crimson-tinged cloud
Disappeared from the West, The night-blooming plant did
Its blossoms unfold, With the pureness of snow
And the lustre of gold.
With a taper I stole through
The gloom of the night, And gazed on its delicate
Charms with delight. But the chaste flower seem'd
Conscious intrusion was near, For I found every petal
Suffus'd with a tear.
Yes, tear-drops of dew did
The blossom adorn, And in beauty it wept
'Till the splendor of morn; When, like loveliness drooping,
It hastily dies, While its tears and its
Fragrance escape to the skies.
[We give the extract sent by our correspondent, poetry and all, though beyond a smoothness of rhythm not common now-a-days in newspaper poetry, it is not of high character. If poetry is the art of putting truth in song, we are scarcely ready to subscribe to the proposition that a flower which has but a transitory existence is a fit emblem of excellence, virtue, worth, "and of love, too." However, letting these things pass, we may say that the Cactus sent is Epi-phyllum latifrons. It makes a beautiful object when trained to a single stem, planted out in the open ground in Summer, and taken up, potted, and protected in the Fall. The odor is not equal to that of the true Night Blooming Cereus. - Ed. G. M].