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.
In the Monthly for August, page 225, I notice that you recommend Spirea lobata. I do not recollect ever seeing the name before. Is it a new or rare plant? Please be so good as to describe it. I have had to abandon the cultivation of Delphinium formosum. A few years ago it would grow healthy and flower in great profusion. Two years ago this spring I noticed the leaves on my plants were commencing to curl and twist up in bunches along the edge of the leaf. About July 1st, the plants were about a foot high and the leaves were either curled up or twisted all out of shape and on the flower stems and veins of the leaves were black ridges about the length of a pin •, they soon became so unsightly that I had to cut them down. I then gave the plants a dusting of sulphur and also dug some in around the plants, but it did no good. The next spring they came up looking worse than ever. I tried the sulphur on them again but with no success, and about June the first, I dug them up and threw them away. A worse looking set of deformed plants I have never seen. Have you or any of your readers ever noticed anything like this, and is there no remedy for it? Do you think it is worth while for me to try it again from fresh seed.
I am glad to hear of your success with this most beautiful plant.
I have been much annoyed with the Centaurea gymnocarpa this season. It has a habit of dying off suddenly. Plants looking perfectly healthy are found withered and dead within the course of a few days. What is the matter with them and is there no remedy ?
In answer to "J.S. R.," page 234, I would say that Platycerium alcicorne is generally known as the Stag's Horn Fern, and the Fern with furry stems described by "J. S. R." must be one of the Davallias; they are generally known as the Rabbit's or Hare's Foot Fern.
In answer to " F. B.," page 235, I would recommend for his back wall, Fuchsia speciosa. If planted out in a well-prepared border it will produce an abundance of flowers during the Winter; it can be trained to cover quite a space by proper management. If " F. B." wishes running-vines he can select from Hoyacarnosa, Rhyncos-permum jasminoides, Clerodendron Balfourii, or Passiflora racemosa princeps, all good free flowering climbing plants, and none of them so subject to insects as the Stephanotis. The Step-hanotis properly treated is an excellent plant for a trellis in the open air during the summer months.
I have had a fine plant of Tecoma jasminoides in full blossom since the first of May; my plant is about thirty feet long. Where room can be spared, this is a most magnificent greenhouse climbing plant.
I am delighted to hear that the beautiful Cis-sus discolor can be planted outside during the Summer, and I regret I did not know the fact sooner, so that I could have planted some outside this season.
On page 237, August number, I noticed a remedy for the Colorado potato beetle. I think the potato beetle must be very scarce in "A. H's." vicinity if he can go over his potatoes and touch each beetle with a drop of kerosene oil. If we should try this remedy here I do not think that we would get over many plants in the course of a day. After a trial of many remedies I am satisfied that there is nothing better than Paris green. If care be taken there is not the least danger in its use. I understand however, that London purple is said to answer all the purposes of Paris green. It is said to be soluble in water, and is cheaper than Paris green. If any of the readers of the Monthly have experimented with it, I hope they will report the results.
Is Pritchardia filifera distinct from P. fila-mentosa? If so, in what respect do they differ? Is the violet Belle de Chatenay a good double white variety, and how does it compare in size of flower and prolificacy of bloom with the Neapolitan ?
In the July number, page 212, I noticed an article on "Fertilization by Bees," which proved very interesting to me. I enclose an extract from an article by Professor Gray, in the American Agriculturist, for August, 1876, which might prove of interest to some of your readers:
" Now as to red clover, the arrangement is essentially the same as in Baptisia and the rest of the pulse family, except that the flowers are crowded in a dense head, the petals are all united below into a prolonged tube, honey-bearing at bottom, and the filaments of the stamens are united. That some pollen reaches the stigma from contiguous anthers, at least when the flowers are jostled, is certain, and some self-fertilization must thus be effected if its own pollen acts. Yet Mr. Darwin found long ago, in England, that while 100 unprotected heads of red clover matured 2,700 seeds, the same number of heads protected from bumble-bees produced not a single seed. And in this country it is generally understood that the first red clover crop, which is in blossom before our bumble-bees abound, seeds sparingly, while the second produces seed freely. This is attributed either to the abundance of bumble-bees in the latter part of Summer, or partly to the shorter tube of the later flowers, which makes their honey more accessible, and therefore more attractive to other bees and species of insects.
In Germany, according to Herman Muller, other insects than bumblebees take part in the fertilization of red clover, so that Darwin's well-known chain of causation, which reads like a chapter from ' The House that Jack Built,' must be taken with some qualification, - at least out of England. Concluding that red clover in that country is fertilized only by bumble-bees, he remarks that the number of bumble-bees depends on the number of field mice, which destroy their combs and nests, and that the number of mice depends on the number of cats in the neighborhood, so that an increase in the number of cats which catch the mice, which destroy the nests of the bumble-bees, which fertilize the red clover blossoms from which they suck honey, might diminish the amount or tend to terminate the existence of red clover in any district. Some one, we believe in New England, added another link to this chain by suggesting that, as the number of cats kept depends on the number of old maids, these worthy members of the community might in certain cases be unwittingly the cause of the failure of the clover crop.
But, coming down to sober facts, it is obvious that our early red clover sets a fair quantity of seed before bumble-bees are abundant, and some of this seed is likely to come from self-fertilization. Yet we do not learn that our critical correspondent has tested this, as Mr. Darwin did, by shielding clover-heads from all insects, and noting the result. On the other hand, the fuller fertility later in the season, when the clover-heads are largely visited by bees, goes to show that cross-fertilization takes place and is advantageous, if not absolutely necessary. To show that these flowers and all others of the pulse family, are constructed for crossing by means of flying insects, and that while some may be, others cannot be self-fertilized, will be my task in the next article".
The enclosed notes occurred to me while reading the July and August numbers of the Monthly, and if they are of any value they are at your disposal.