This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
(Prize Essay for Massachusetts Horticultural Society.) (Continued from page 292.)
Eleagnus longipes, the Japan oleaster growing near, is another striking and curious plant. It is of small size, with spreading, somewhat irregular branches, and leaves bright-green above and silvery-white beneath, studded with brown scales. The small, yellowish flowers are produced in great profusion on long stalks, and are succeeded by berries of an oblong shape and deep transparent orange brown color. These berries are likewise speckled with brownish scales.
I cannot help remarking on another eleagnus on this lawn, E. argentea. It is not only comparatively new, but very choice and rare. Silvery-leaved plants are always interesting, and this is perhaps the most silvery-leaved plant known to our lawns. The leaves are of good size and rather long, and the plant has generally a somewhat straggling habit, but the sheen of its silver is always unsurpassed. It seems to be very hardy, too, which gives an additional reason for noticing it here. But what is this creamy white cluster of flowers growing like those of a deutzia? The odor is delicate and delightful. Large, roundish leaves, however, distinctly mark its difference from the deutzia. Altogether it is a very decided acquisition, bearing the rather difficult name, pterostyrax hispidum. Styrax Japonica has deutzia-like leaves, but very different flowers. It is less striking in appearance than pterostyrax hispidum. Here, also, is an actual deutzia, with leaves marbled with silver, and a new Japan quince, remarkable for unusually large, rosy pink flowers, double the size of the familiar form of pyrus Japonica. Another of these Japan quinces also attracts us with its tri-colored pink, white and green foliage.
Little globes of curled and crisp dark green leaves, minute and very compact, may be seen here and there about the house, covered with small red flowers, that bloom off and on all summer. It is Spirea crispifolia, doubtless a variety of S. callosa. Very dwarf and free flowering, it is one of the most useful shrubs of this character. We note also rhodotypos kerrioides, a very pretty shrub, something like a small blackberry bush in general appearance, but more delicate and covered with numerous small white flowers shaped not unlike those of an althea. Somewhat prominent, also, is weigela Lavallee, with chocolate-colored flowers blooming freely a second time during the latter part of the summer.
I must not forget to call your attention to a larger shrub on this part of the lawn, which you will doubtless recognize as a sumach. It is much larger and more tree-like than our common form, and'quite spreading. It is Rhus Osbeckia Japanese sumach of much rarity. The leaves of this sumach have the wing peculiar in a greater or less degree to the midrib of that plant, so enlarged as to be very striking, especially during the intensely scarlet glow this plant takes on in fall. No color can be finer than the autumn tints of Rhus Osbecki. The flower in June is, moreover, very effective.
Among the Asiatic shrubs I may very properly here call attention to certain new magnolias They occupy, in two cases at least, the transition point between trees and shrubs, but they are more properly shrubs, since their peculiar beauty demands that their branches be preserved close to the ground, which gives them in everything but size the effect of a true shrub. The really shrublike magnolia is Magnolia Halleana or Stellata, the most compact and slow-growing of its race. It has been introduced from Japan for many years, but has not until recently been received with anything like the attention it deserves. The leaves are dark green, somewhat small for a magnolia, and given to disposing themselves in very picturesque masses. If it is the most dwarf of Asiatic magnolias, it is also the hardiest and most readily transplanted. Its prime charm consists in its flowers. They are more than creamy-white, they are snow-white, with a peculiar brilliance of texture; but more than all, they are delicately fragrant, more far-grant than any other hardy magnolia, except the one I am about to point out to you.
When open, these flowers, which come earlier than the bloom of any other magnolia, and before the leaves, remind one of the star-shaped clematis, but in their loveliest form, half opened, their graceful curves are like those of white water-lilies. The earliness and beauty of this flower, and the sudden manner in which it bursts into bloom, indicates a capacity for producing early forced flowers of the finest quality. I only wonder florists have not recognized the value of this fact. Magnolia Halleana occupies the outskirts of an irregular group of different magnolias, situated near the boundaries and not far from the house. Back of it, and very conspicuously placed, is the latest attraction from Japan, magnolia parviflora. It reminds one of a large-growing magnolia glauca, our common sweet-scented swamp species. The leaves are rich and massive, and the general habit as vigorous as any of the Asiatic magnolias, but the flowers that bloom in June are simply charming. Beautiful also, exceedingly, in a curving cream-colored cup of petals, the stamens and pistils unite into a crimson elongated mass that contrasts most effectively with the surrounding white. Yet, attractive as all these qualities are, the odor surpasses them altogether.
Doubtless you know the half hardy Southern Magnolia fuscata. If you do, you may conceive something of the degree of sweetness of Magnolia parviflora. From a plant standing near the far end of a greenhouse one hundred feet long, the spicy odor impresses you immediately on opening the door. A large magnolia parviflora has proved perfectly hardy for several years, and good judges declare it a great acquisition.
To be continued.