This is an elegant genus of plants, and very curious in their structure. The petals range themselves on the upper side, and the stamens and pistil are protruded a considerable length, on slender filaments, forming beautiful airy groups.
Cleome grandiflora is one of the most showy of the genus. It is easily raised from seed, when planted in the open ground, in April or May, and blooms abundantly from July to September; grows from three to four feet high. Its spikes, continually increasing in length, are always surmounted with a crest of beautiful buds and flowers, which are of a pale pink-purple. It is beautiful in the garden, but withers very quickly when cut.
This is also a handsome annual, of the same habit of the last; about two or three feet high; the flowers pure white; the odor of the plant is most offensive.
C. spinosa is a spiny plant, which grows about four feet high, and bears a spike of beautiful white (sometimes pinkish) flowers. All the species flourish in any common garden soil.
However beautiful and curious these plants may be, and desirable for show, they are repulsive to the smell and unpleasant to the touch, and therefore, will not be favorites.
[In honor of Bernandez Cobo, a Spanish Jesuit, who wrote upon the subject of natural history in the middle of the 17th century.]
Cobaea scandens. - This is the most rapid growing greenhouse plant known, having been found to grow two hundred feet in one summer, in a conservatory. It is a perennial, but will not stand the winter, and, unless cultivated in a green-house, is classed with tender annuals. It flourishes well in the open ground, if it is first started in a hot-bed, in pots, and turned out in June. I have found it to continue blooming after a number of moderate frosts. The flowers are large, purple, and bell-shaped. The foliage is handsome, and the tendrils, which are fine and silky, will attach themselves to anything within reach, even a cobweb. If located in a warm place, it will cover a large surface before it is destroyed by the frost. It can be raised by cuttings, but requires care to keep it through the winter.
Coleus Verschaffeltii. - This is unsurpassed as a leaf-plant. Its peculiar and beautiful marking of crimson, green and bronze, makes a strong and agreeable contrast, in groups, or along the margin of borders in the flower-garden. The beauty of the plant consists entirely in the leaf; the flowers are of no consequence. It is a tender plant, which must be housed in the winter. It is easily raised from cuttings, and is sold by dealers in bedding plants in the spring. If planted out the last of May, or 1st of June, it forms a handsome spreading plant by September, two feet high. The colors are more brilliant when planted in the shade.
I do not know the origin of this beautiful plant, but from the specific name suppose it was introduced by Mr. Verschaffelt, a German florist.
[Named Tor Z. Collins, a Philadelphia Botanist of the last generation.]
Collinsia bicolor. - Two-colored Collinsia. - A beautiful hardy annual, with purple and white flowers, which are numerous and pretty; in July and August; one foot high.
This is another beautiful species, with large blue and purple flowers; at the same time and height, but more spreading than the other. There are also many other ornamental species or varieties of the same habit, viz: carnea alba, candidissi-ma, heterophylla, multicolor, etc. All are suitable for planting in masses and easily propagated from seed; sow May 1st.
A very lively flower, growing in heads of bright carmine-red; a desirable dwarf annual, flowering early in June and July. The seeds have, like some of the Salvias, the curious property of becoming invested with mucus when moistened with water.
[So named by Plumier, in honor of the brothers John and Gasper Commelin, Botanists and Dutch Merchants.]
Commelyna coelestis. - Sky-blue Commelyna. - Tender annual from Mexico, or perennial if the roots are taken up and housed. The splendid blue flowers of this plant cannot be excelled, and its profusion of blossoms renders it deserving of cultivation in every flower-garden. The plant blooms from the middle of June to October. The roots are tuberous, and keep well through winter, if taken up after the blooming season, and preserved like Dahlia roots. Plants from the old roots grow, in good soil, from two to three feet high; those from seeds reach only from one to two feet. The following is the mode of management I have practised; - I fix upon a circular bed, eight feet in diameter, and in the first week in May I plant four feet of the center with the old roots, placing the crowns just under the surface of the soil. The outer portion of the bed I plant with spring-sovm plants, that have been raised in pots placed in a frame. Both the roots and plants should be planted about six inches apart. Thus, the center of the bed being much higher than the outer part, the appearance is that of a splendid blue cone of flowers, scarcely to be excelled in beauty. Seeds are produced in abundance, and may be had of seedsmen at a small cost.