To make a selection from the bewildering number of varieties now offered in our seed catalogues, is an interesting, though it may be sometimes rather a perplexing operation. It is not very easy to give specific advice in the matter, as tastes are so varied. "We would say, in general terms though, be shy of "novelties" until you see them recommended in the lists the second year; you may then know that their merits have been tested and they are given permanent place. We have been importers of all such "novelties" for over twenty years, and think ourselves lucky if we get one good thing for every nineteen worthless ones we try. Still, to get the good things, all that are offered must be tried, and subjected to the sifting process - separating the chaff from the wheat. We can only use space to enumerate a few generally favorite kinds, which we give in the list below; this comprises such as are of easiest cultivation, and are most valued for the beauty or fragrance of their flowers.
*Canary Bird Flower,
Those Marked * are climbers.
I have used the popular and scientific names indiscriminately in the way they are given in most seed catalogues, as this will facilitate reference to them for descriptions. The rule for the sowing of seeds already given in the chapter "Propagation of Plants by Seeds," applies to sowing the seeds of annuals whether in the hotbed or greenhouse, to obtain plants to set in the open border, or sowing at once in the open border. The covering of the seeds should in every case be of a light material. Thus, if the soil of your flower-garden is hard and rough, be sure that the surface on which the delicate seeds are to be sown is made smooth and level, and that it is covered with a fine light soil, such as leaf-mold, in the manner described in the chapter referred to. Probably three-fourths of all the flower-seeds that are sown by amateurs never germinate, and for no other reason than that they have not been properly treated. One sows a tropical seed, such as Portulaca, in March, and wonders that it does not start to grow; by May, the time it should be sown in the ground, the spot has become covered with weeds, and the tiny plant, if it comes now at all, is choked and killed. Another reverses the order and wonders that the hardy Pansy seeds which are sown in June, fail to grow, or if they grow, fail to bloom in the dog days. Our seed catalogues are nearly all defective in not giving more specific directions for the culture of annual plants; if the space used for description of form and color was devoted to telling the time and manner of sowing, it would be of far more benefit to the amateur buyer, but nearly all follow the English practice of giving descriptions of varieties only. There the necessity for such information is less, the people being better informed as to flower culture, and the climate is also more congenial for germination of most seeds.