This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
I am glad that you have drawn attention to the system of exhibiting the "new and first-rate Pelargoniums;" and you have certainly made it very plain that none but new and first-rate varieties should on any account be exhibited. Your suggestion of sending plants to Mr. Cock or Mr. Staines for specimen-growing is excellent, and would, if acted upon, be of great assistance to the majority of amateur growers; for, owing to the high prices and the uncertainty of many " notorious flowers," few now think of purchasing until they have been out three seasons, when those sent out at a guinea and a half or two guineas have dropped down to about 2s. 6d. or 3s. 6d., and something more than mere hearsay is known about their various pretensions.
In your remarks you say that Delicatissimum was shewn by you twice: this I find, on a careful examination, to be correct; but Blanche only appears once, though it may have been staged at the Surrey shows, none of which have been fully reported this last season. Besides these two, our statements seem to agree pretty well.
In reply to your request, I must inform you that I have applied to about forty celebrated Pelargonium-growers for the names of the twelve very best varieties, and also the twelve best suited for general and exhibition purposes; but I fear the replies will reach me too late for giving you the result for this month's Florist, but it shall certainly be forwarded in time for the January Number. Without wishing to disparage the productions of other raisers, the almost total absence of Mr. Hoyle's flowers from the Exhibitions of the past season (see list at p. 254) quite confirms me in stating that the most of them are very finely bred, yet few of them are well fitted for general and exhibition purposes, for which Beck's, Foster's, and Lyne's, have been so long celebrated. Orion.
Will you give me space to make a few observations touching the Pelargonium, suggested by your remarks in last month's Florist? You "want the public to demand that all the new flowers sent out this autumn be seen next season in specimen plants;" and you kindly furnish the names of two metropolitan exhibitors who are willing to grow and show for any raiser who does not himself exhibit. I conclude you mean they should be shewn in the collections. Now to this request I beg to enter my protest. It appears to me a much wiser plan that buyers of new flowers should demand to see a specimen plant before they be asked to purchase, and thus have a fair opportunity of judging whether the plant suits their taste or not; and it should be borne in mind, that the prizes offered for collections are for "specimens of superior cultivation;" and although something is said in the schedules of "new and first-rate varieties," I have never seen any attention paid to this point in making the awards; the only point apparently attended to is, which are the finest plants? I do not say it should be so, if the object be to test the merits of new varieties; but I do say, that to conclude that the winning collections contain the best flowers that have been raised, is to be misled, as I was myself often misled in the days of my simplicity.
I give it as my opinion that such specimens are not needed to shew the quality of a new variety, nor are they the best from which to form a judgment. I should choose to judge from a plant of such size and growth as any ordinary cultivator can grow, in preference to one requiring some sixteen square feet of stage-room, the only merits of which frequently are, large size, well-trained form, and abundance of bloom. For such specimens a peculiar habit is required, and the absence of this peculiar habit is often the reason why new flowers, and good flowers too, are not shewn in collections; but it should not be forgotten that the principal requirement for new varieties is to improve the collections at home, where such specimens are neither desired nor desirable.
I cannot think you are quite correct in saying that Mr. C, or Mr. S., or Mr. Anybody, only require a well-rooted small plant in September or October, to make a plant fit to exhibit the following June. I know that exhibitors generally are anxious, whenever they admit a new variety into their collections, to obtain an " old bottom," if possible, as it saves a year's time; and my own experience convinces me that many sorts do not produce blooms in perfection until two years' old; and I am confident many sorts are condemned the first season, which, had they b'een tried another year, and received justice in growing, would have been highly admired.
Many sorts, and particularly the high-coloured ones, are liable to have the colour discharged from the margin of the petals. I believe this disfigurement to arise, or at least to be aggravated, by watering the plants, when in bloom, in the evening. I would recommend all such to be only watered, when in bloom, in the morning; and I prefer this time of day for that operation in all stages of their growth.
As you have referred to my flowers, and the opinions expressed of them, I may be permitted to say, that in whatever terms of praise the "several publications" you refer to may have spoken of them, they have at least been perfectly unbiassed. I am not one of those who write "reports" upon their own flowers.*
I have pleasure in expressing my testimony to the fidelity of the figures of Ocellatum and May Queen; they are, I think, as near to nature as I have ever seen coloured plates of Pelargoniums. The side petals of May Queen are made to cover too much of the top petals; but that may have been the case with the blooms forwarded to the artist. I do not participate in your opinion that no great advance has been made the last two years; the two " novelties" you have kindly figured " without pecuniary advantage," I beg to remind you possess what you have recorded as the first point in the Pelargonium; and, I think, with Ajax, Ocellatum, May Queen, Nonsuch, Celia, etc. I have no reason to feel disappointment, or join your lament; I think we have plenty of room for progress, and have confidence in the capabilities of the Pelargonium to command a large share of public patronage for long to come.
One point more, and I close these already long observations. All my flowers, with one exception, sent out this autumn, have been shewn at the two principal metropolitan exhibitions, many of them three or four times; and I think often enough to warrant their being sent out, whether they get into the collections next season or not.
Reading, Nov. loth, 1850. G. W. Hoyle.
[We act in this case as we wish to do in all others. We have stated our opinion, and Mr. Hoyle has done the same; it is now for our readers to draw their own conclusions. We have often expressed it as our judgment that there are beauties of colour yet to be obtained in the Pelargonium, of which we have scarcely dreamt. Its popularity must continue, for we have no plant in cultivation' to take its place. - Superintendent.]
* We insert this reflection, believing our friend Hoyle levels it at ourselves; had it been at another, we should certainly have suppressed it, for we highly disapprove of insinuations of all kinds.