This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The principal danger against which the cultivator of Cape Bulbs has to guard is, excess of wet; and in the case of Gladioli, this is best effected by choosing a piece of sloping ground, rather than by the use of artificial drainage. I have found that, generally, they do better if the slope is towards the north, though I do not recommend this invariably. Even the July rains are, in some cases, more than they can bear. With the exception of G. cardinalis (which I have grown better in peat than any other soil), I have observed that these bulbs, either in pots or the open ground, do better in pure loam than in a mixture of loam and peat, whether in the unctuous oolitic loam of the vale of Cheltenham, the limestone soil of the Durdham Down Nursery, or the rich sandy loam overlying a bed of gravel in my own garden, using in the latter case a layer of rotten cow-manure, placed at some little depth below the bulbs, and into which the roots can readily go for nourishment. Latterly I have found charcoal very useful in preserving the bulbs from decay, and aiding their growth.
On the approach of severe weather, generally in December, I cover my beds of Gladioli a few inches deep with partially rotten leaves.
Ixias have been grown in the nursery here to a large extent, for about fifteen years, in the open ground, well drained with brick or stone rubble, and of late without any protection from frost: they also do well in a mixture of light loam and peat; for which latter, leaf-mould, may, I think, be substituted without disadvantage. I am quite inclined to believe there is an increasing taste for these charming little flowers, and that we shall see them obtain that place in the flower-garden which they richly deserve. The nomenclature of this family is involved in much confusion, partly from the difficulty of clearing the ground of the roots of one sort before another is planted, and partly from seedling varieties getting mixed with named sorts. About fourteen years since, Harry Dobree, jun. Esq., of Beau Sejour, Guernsey, did me the favour of submitting to me for correction a list of thirty-six varieties of Ixia, which had been cultivated by him, and which he afterwards published in the Gardeners' Gazette, with explanatory observations, with a view " to establish something like uniformity of nomenclature;" but I fear the object was not attained.
I earnestly wish some lover of this interesting family would again take up the subject; and if I might be allowed to mention a name, I should say I know of no one so well qualified as John Rogers, Esq. of Streatham, who, about the time above referred to, most kindly furnished me with descriptive lists of several sections of the family, which fully bear me out in the opinion I have given of his qualification for the work.
The list of Ixias to which I have referred, if deemed worthy of insertion in the Florist, I shall have pleasure in sending you.
In the late lamented Dean of Manchester we have lost one who stood pre-eminent as a cultivator of bulbs, and whose equal I never expect to see. A few months since I was looking over his work on the Amaryllidaceae, when my eye very unexpectedly caught sight of a paragraph containing a warm and just eulogium on the late Dr. Carey, one of the earliest labourers sent out by the Baptist Missionary Society. It is so simply and beautifully written, that I think the readers of the Florist will thank you for recording in its pages a testimony so honourable to both parties.