I have this year thoroughly conquered the difficulty of growing and flowering the single Datura cornigera (Brugmansia Knighti). It is beautifully figured in the sixth edition of the 'English Flower Garden.' This picture would convince anyone how well worth growing it is. In a windy and exposed situation it is no use trying to grow it. What I do with it is this: It is kept all the winter with other half-hardy plants in a pot; in the spring all the lower suckers are taken off and the stem is bared. If you want to increase your plant, you leave two or three shoots at the bottom of the plant earthing them up, and in the autumn you take them off. When you have potted up in the spring it is well, if you have room, to leave the plant growing on in a cool greenhouse. It is planted out at the end of May. If the head is too thick, a little judicious pruning improves its shape. The hole must be well dug and well manured, the earth left as a cup round the plant, liquid manured later on as the flower-buds form, and copiously watered in dry weather. By this method I believe anyone can have this plant growing and flowering during the whole summer in a way that any gardener would feel proud of. The sweet Italian double datura I use as a wall plant in a large pot, and have a plant so old that a large knob has formed just above the ground, which, I suppose, is Nature's way of retaining moisture in its unnatural condition of being left in a pot. I have another of these double daturas planted in a bed in my greenhouse, and cutting it hard back once or twice a year makes it also flower twice. In the cultivation of cannas, too, I have made great progress. The common kind have luxuriant foliage, but the flower is poor. Two years ago I bought twelve good ones from Mr. Cannell. Before the frost comes they are taken up and put under the shelter of some shrub with dry earth thrown over their roots. This makes them die down naturally. They are then put into a box with dry earth and wintered in the cellar. In January they begin to show signs of growth; they are best then taken up and very much divided and put into separate small pots. Some should be kept and potted on for greenhouse use, the others planted out in rich soil at the beginning of June. The great object is that they should be good-sized plants ready to flower at the end of June. Some heat may be used short of making the plants weak. The better sort of cannas never show to advantage if they flower too late. A canna called 'Alphonse Bouvier' makes a most splendid pot plant on my wall. It stands plenty of liquid manure when in good growing condition. Most plants stand high feeding when they are at their strongest and making their flowers. Over-manuring constantly kills young plants.
We keep our dahlias also in the cellar. They, too, form better plants for a good deal of dividing when planted out.The shoots should be thinned out as they grow, and all the lower leaves removed in June or July. This immensely increases their flowering capabilities.
Enothera taraxacifolia has been a most useful plant here this wet summer. We have to treat it as an annual, as it does not stand our winters. The vagaries of seasons have to be much taken into account. All my dry-soil, sun-loving plants, which generally do so well here, have utterly failed this peculiar season. Another Cape perennial which has done splendidly this year is Venidium cal-endulaceum. It is of dwarf spreading growth and the most showy, orange, marigold-like blooms. Cuttings can be taken in August and kept in a greenhouse through the winter, but I think growing from seed in a hotbed in spring is the better way.
Francoa ramosa, when grown for the greenhouse, should be potted on and not divided. Its wealth of bloom, if this point is observed, makes it a handsome plant for a greenhouse.
Many people say to me, ' Do you get figs off your trees ? ' I answer, * Yes, since I have known how to treat them.' There is no difficulty in growing good figs out of doors, provided - first, you have a wall with south aspect. Second, select the right sort of fig, such as (in mild situations) 'Bourjassotte Grise,' 'st. John,' 'Osborn's Prolific, and 'Brown Turkey'. It is of no use to try ' Castle Kennedy,'' Negro Largo,' or many others. Third, if the shoots grow more than 18 inches long, the ground is too rich; in this case, cut the roots freely and pinch the points of the roots. Fourth, no shoots must be shaded; if they are, you may get figs, but you do not deserve them. The first frost will destroy the unripe figs. I always pick mine off. This information was given me by a man who is a most successful fig-grower. It is better to prune figs in the spring because some of the shoots may be damaged by frost if done in autumn.
Two or three years ago, visiting in a French country house in August, to my surprise, the most excellent rhubarb tart was served hot for the English guests! I immediately thought,' Oh ! a new and refined kind which tastes just like plums; how wonderful these French are!' On inquiry, I found the plants had come from England, and that, the family being away, the French gardener had been bored by their enormous growth and had cut them down in May. Their new green growth made this delicious autumn variety. I recommend it to all, as it comes in most usefully when the small fruit is over. The plants must not be forced or cut for eating till May.