This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It is difficult for purchasers who are compelled to buy by catalogue to judge of the value of horticultural novelties, and probably always will be so. Many new things are thrust on the market with what seem to be the best of recommendations, and are advertised in all available ways, which have only been tested in one locality, and in many cases not in this country at all; but even in this country the climate is so varied that but few things do well and are valuable acquisitions all over the States. Yet the demand for novelties is so great that dealers are compelled to buy most of these much-heralded varieties, and grow them for sale, until they are either admitted among the standard articles, or are rejected as worthless, and in most cases they are catalogued at high prices, with their original descriptions, without first being tested at all. Thus the purchaser who buys from these dealers, is no more certain of getting a good thing than the dealer was, and the public it seems will never learn that the most advertised articles are not necessarily the best. Now, here comes in one of the great uses of the Gardener's Monthly and other similar journals.
By reading comments on these novelties, from different persons in different localities, we are enabled to decide on their true worth.
It is with these thoughts that the writer decided to speak of a few of the newer, or poorly appreciated plants which are in the market at the present time. Among the newer Abutilons, none better deserve mention than A. Darwinii. This beautiful plant is too free a bloomer to be a rank grower. Planted out in the spring it will be a continual mass of bloom, from planting time till the severe frosts destroy it in the fall. It is as hardy as a geranium, and seems to delight in dry, hot weather. It is delicate in color and graceful in habit, and sells well in spring, as it is sure to be in bloom at selling season. A. Snowball is the best white one we have seen, and is an improvement over Boule de Niege in being more compact in habit and a free bloomer.
Of the new Geraniums which Mr. Thorp sent out last fall, Richard Brett has proved the best with us. We also tested three varieties of Acal-pha this last summer, as bedding plants, and are well pleased with the result. For though Mr. Henderson asserts in his "Handbook of Plants " that A. tricolor is the only one worth cultivating, we find by test that A. marginata, A. mosaica, and A. Macafeeana are not only worth cultivating, but that they are real valuable acquisitions to our list of bedding plants. A. marginata is the strongest grower of the three. The foliage is ovate acuminate with long petioles. In color the leaves vary from dark green to a reddish tinge, with dark red veins ; the margin is shaded with a band of light colors, varying from bright crimson and pink to yellow. In large specimens they measure nine inches in length and five in breadth. A. Macafeeana is next in rapidity of growth ; its leaves are cordate and very irregular, often having deep folds in them. The larger ones are often eight inches long and six inches broad. They vary in color from dark bronze to bright red, blotched with yellow and crimson. A. Mosaica is a dwarf grower, but is probably the best of all. Its leaves are variegated in rectangular and irregular blotches of rose, yellow, pink and bronze.
The yellow usually being the predominant color. They also have a tendency to curl downward. There was a bed of this variety planted out in the Allegheny parks during the last summer which made quite a striking appearance.
In the way of double Petunias, we have seen nothing to beat Charm, for robust habit, good shape and freedom of bloom. Two Begonia rex varieties, which are new to us, promise to become valuable for cutting leaves for floral work, besides making handsome plants. Their leaves, when full grown, are never too large to use for baskets. There is but little difference between them in appearance. Both have a peculiar gloss, such as we see in shells, and less hair on their surface than we find on the old rex varieties. Indeed, the probability is that they are a cross between the rex and the flowering varieties; they seem to be free bloomers. Their names are Louise Cretine and Countess de Thell-uson respectively. The former has a reddish shading in the leaf, near the centre which the other does not possess. The latter is the freest grower. Bouvardia A. Neuner is, we believe, all that is claimed for it.