"Not a tree, A plant, a leaf, a blossom, but contains A folio volume. We may read, and read, And read again, and still find something new, Something to please, and something to instruct."
* In addition to those noticed in the first edition.
Such have been the diligence and perseverance of collectors of plants, which have been sent out to all parts of the world, within the last fifty years, under the patronage of wealthy individuals and associations in Europe, that one would be led to suppose that every nook and corner of the globe had been explored, and that nothing more of interest could be garnered up to gratify the eye of the florist.
But such is not the fact. Every year brings to light " something new, something to please, and something to instruct," from the floral kingdom. But, however rare and interesting many of these newly discovered plants may be to the florist, their value for ornamental purposes cannot be compared with the value of some of the improved old standard varieties of the flower garden. The science, skill, and perseverance, of amateur gardeners and florists, have transformed many comparatively inferior species of flowering plants from a state of simplicity and inelegance, to that of gorgeous magnificence. We can hardly believe our senses, as we call to mind the great improvements that have been made in many of the races of ornamental plants, with which we have for years been familiar.
Let us look at the Verbena, hardly known twenty years ago, now sporting into every conceivable color and shade, excepting yellow, always in bloom, and never tiring. Or the Portulacca, with its shining scarlet, purple, yellow, orange, white, and variegated blossoms, ever beautiful and bright, making itself too common, to be rare, but certainly very gay and lively, forming at the present day an indispensable appendage to the flower garden. Who would recognize the old fashioned China Aster, since, by the florist's hands, it has been transformed into the magnificent French Peony, or pyramidal bouquet German Aster? Or the Dahlia, as we first saw it thirty years since; who would then have conceived of its gorgeousness at the present day, or that so many generations of "Ne plus ultras, Incomparables, Standard of Perfection, and Marvels," should be superceded by other races yet more perfect; or that such hosts of "Kings, Queens, Lords, Ladies, and Forget-me-nots," should be so soon forgotten and cast forever in the shade ?
What an unlimited field for future improvements opens before us! We shall never arrive at perfection, but great improvements are yet to be made in many new as well as the old races. We do not hold that the excitement and pleasure incident to the improvement and cultivation of a flower garden will wholly remove the ills and troubles of life; but it is an occupation that has a tendency to remove many disquietudes of the mind, and gives employment for many odd moments, that would otherwise be spent in brooding over some real or imaginary evil. We think Cowper came near the truth, when he said:
"The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reigns;
The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown, And sullen sadness, that o'ershade, distort, And mar the face of beauty, when no cause For such immeasurable woe appears;
These Flora banishes, and gives the fair, Sweet smile and bloom, less transient than her own."
We will now proceed to record some improvements that have been made in old flowers, the introduction of new sorts, or to notice some that were forgotten in the first edition of this work, as well as to make some corrections and amendments to what has been already written.