This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Heaths belong to a Natural Order which contains some of the most beautiful plants of which we have any knowledge. In addition to the interesting forms of their blossoms, Ericas themselves may be said to comprise almost every shade of colour which we could expect or desire to find in flowers. We have snowy whiteness in the little hail-like blossoms of the common Grandinosa; pink and white, in charming contrast, in the beautiful Metulaeflora bicolor; yellow in Cavendishii; green in Viridis; scarlet in Splendens; and red in species without number; and then, again, these are blended and softened down to every tint and shade of which such mixtures are susceptible. But we have as yet no blues or violets; and it is said these should be present in every harmonious arrangement of colours: a skilful disposition of the plants in the Heathery, however, will easily compensate for the loss of these; and, of course, where Heaths are intermixed with greenhouse plants, these colours can be supplied by other genera.
Miss Drake Delt.
Fredk. Smith Scalz.
1 Regalis 2. Laqneata lutea 3. Cavendishiana. /Var./
But it is not variety of colour alone that constitutes the great value of Heaths for decorative purposes. Their long season of flowering is another feature in this fine tribe of plants not to be lost sight of; for under careful management, and with a moderately good collection, either one or other of its many sorts may be had in bloom nearly all the year round. In spring, the beautiful little purple-flowered Gracilis and the sweet-scented Regerminans put forth their tiny blossoms in abundance, and usher in the floral year to the Heathery, while their period of beauty continues on till some of the larger and finer-flowered kinds make their appearance and take their places; these, again, are succeeded by other sorts; and thus from almost the earliest dawn of spring and vernal sunshine, until aged Autumn, "still and sublime," casts her long shadows around us, we have some favourite greeting us with a " handful of blossoms." Indeed, were it possible to take our Heaths from us, and place them again in their native homes at the Cape, we should be bereft of our finest ornamental plants, and should mourn little less over their departure than the early Highland emigrants did over their heather, when they found that it would not grow with them in Canada.
But the object we have more immediately in view on this occasion is, to introduce the subjects represented by our plate; and having done that, we do not know that we can do better, as the homely phrase goes, than let them speak for themselves.
They were raised by Mr. Story, a gentleman who, as most of our readers know, has been most fortunate in producing seedling Heaths of first-rate excellence. They are well worthy of the attention of every Heath-grower; and respecting them he has favoured us with the following particulars. Sorry we are to add, two of them are misnamed; and we must request our readers to reverse those of Laqueatus lutea and seedling Cavendish ii.
To the hybridist it is interesting to be made acquainted with the genealogy of any new production submitted to the ordeal of public criticism.
The subjects illustrating the present Number of the Florist bloomed for the first time in June 1848. I am sorry it is not in my power to do more than guess at the parentage of Regalis, the labels having got displaced in removing my plants from Isleworth in 1844. At that time the seedling in question was a little puny thing in a thumb-pot, unlike in all things to any other plant in my collection; this circumstance secured for the solitary stranger more than an ordinary amount of care, - repaid subsequently by rapid growth and a display of unusual vigour. There can be no doubt, I think, but Vestita rosea was its male parent; the habit, vigour, and foliage bespeak thus much: further I can form no conception. Be its parentage what it may, there is no doubt but it will rank as one of the first in its class. Mr. Henderson of Pine-Apple Place purchased the plant, and exclaimed when he first beheld it, " This is a fine flower." Laqueatus lutea was submitted to Mr. Henderson's judgment at the same time as the above; he much admired it for the novel form and colour of its flowers, combined with the advantage of an excellent habit and deep rich foliage, forming a compact bush without the aid of stakes or stopping.
The colour and form of the flowers are so correctly delineated in the attached drawing, that it is unnecessary to dwell on them here. This seedling was obtained from Tricolor coronata set with Depressa: it flowers at the terminals like the latter, and in clusters of three, four, and sometimes five. This seedling will also be found in Messrs. Henderson's collection. The third seedling here figured was obtained in the same way that Cavendishii was, viz. Depressa set with Patersonii: it approaches very closely to the clear rich colour of the latter, with the habit of the former, and though unquestionably it is an improvement on Cavendishii, yet it too closely resembles it to merit a distinct name. Whitehill, January 12, 1850. W. H. Story.