I have continued to experiment with the cultivation of plants in large pots. The Pelargonium ' Pretty Polly' is shown to full advantage grown in this way, and its name is appropriate, for it is very pretty. Any of the hardier zonal pelargoniums are satisfactory. One of my favourites is 'William Gladstone,' a beautiful rose-pink. A great improvement in the last few years has been made in these zonal pelargoniums. Mr. Cannell has a very fine collection, but in writing for them it is desirable to note that none should be sent with that peculiar blue shade, verging on magenta, which kills all the other colours. None of the tenderer pelargoniums, though they live well out of doors in the summer, show to perfection, except under glass. Of these 'Enid' is one of the best for flowering all the winter. Even out of doors, I think, the ivy-leaved ones do best against a wall if left in ordinary six-inch pots with only moderate watering and feeding. Inside, in this way, if the greenhouse is sunny they are smothered with blossoms and not too much leaved. They simply spend their life in flowering. ' Lord Derby,'which one can only describe as a salmon-scarlet with a large silver-splashed eye, is a very good one. This reminds me of the old, well-known catalogue description of a verbena - ' "Lady B." - a good bedder with straggling habits.' 'Lady Mary Fox ' is another of the old-fashioned pelargoniums that grows prettily in a large pot, and 'Lucrece' is one of the best pink zonals. Of my recent discoveries in large plants for these pots I think Cassia corymbosa is one of the most effective. It is of shrubby growth, with handsome yellow flowers, which continue till the frost comes. The plants can be housed in any rough place where actual frost is excluded. Its fault is that it has that rather tiresome tendency to go to bed very early, and when your friends come to tea its leaves droop and the petals turn back, and it looks shabby; but the sun of next morning makes it triumphant and bold.I can quite recommend it.
July 28th, - I went to-day to pay a visit to Mr. Douglas, the well-known carnation-grower at Great Bookham. It is always so interesting to see a large number of plants of one kind grown to the greatest perfection. His carnations were lovely, and many were his own seedlings. Once potted up, he never waters them with anything but plain water. I am sure success or the contrary must much depend on careful watering.He layers all his carnations in their own pots in the glass-houses, gives them quantities of air and sun, and never puts any out of doors at all. They root quickly, and by keeping his plants in his sunny, low greenhouses, their seeds ripen.
This wet July has made Ligustrum sincnsc floribundum flower profusely, and when it does so I think it is the best of all the privets. It should face north, or be in partial shade.
In one of my many happy visits to the East Coast in July, I came across, in quite a small garden on a high bank facing south-west, against a bright blue sky, one of the most beautiful results of cultivation I ever saw in any garden. It was the Spanish sweet-smelling rush-broom (Spartium junceum), one sheet of golden bloom. It is one of the clearest and brightest of all the yellow flowers, and keeps for days in water, retaining all its colour at night. I instantly asked how it had been treated, and found the bank had been well planted with a few young plants far apart eight or nine years ago, and that the only cultivation it had had was cutting back hard with shears every year late in the summer, after it had done flowering, not allowing the seeds to ripen. Certainly the result was most satisfactory and well worth any one trying, whether near the sea or away from it. Even individual plants do far better and are hardier if well cut back. I used to lose them in winter, now I do not. This rush-broom planted on the southern side of the double gorse hedge before mentioned would carry on the band of golden blossom later into the year. Genista tinctoria planted in a very dry place on a wall and cut back hard becomes almost a dwarf plant, but flowers in great profusion. I think nothing so amusing as success or failure in varying the cultivation of certain plants, particularly in small gardens.
I think the cimicifugas much better worth growing than seems to be the general opinion, for I seldom see them. I have both G. racemosa and C. japonica in the middle of a large herbaceous bed. They flower at quite different times, require no staking, and, being well fed, attract considerable attention in my garden. The tall thalictrums, T.flavum and T. aquilegifolium, I have placed near them, and the two together make a very pretty quiet background for brighter flowers. I have a specimen of sanguisorba which grows like a cimicifuga. Most people think them both spiraeas. Sanguisorbas do excellently by rivers or ponds, and have a charming growth.
Bartonia asteroides is an autumn flowering plant that appears to ordinary people to be a Michaelmas daisy, but its leaf and its habit are quite different. It does best not divided, likes a dry sunny place, is more refined and graceful, and lasts longer in water than any of the asters I know.
One of the handsomest of the shrubs as a single specimen, or in front of other shrubs, is the Chinese Guelder rose (Viburnum placatum). Pruning back after flowering, and an occasional mulching, is all it requires. Its flowers are most striking in spring, and its foliage tints beautifully in autumn.