This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The remarks of " Orion" at pages 253-4 demand the consideration of those who act as judges at our metropolitan exhibitions. It has often surprised us to see old and comparatively worthless flowers awarded the prizes offered for "new and first-rate varieties." We think that no collection containing old varieties should receive these prizes, because we believe one object in offering them was to provide for the exhibition of plants which had previously appeared as seedlings; and a very useful exhibition it would be, if it were insisted upon that nothing but new and first-rate varieties should appear in it. That the new sorts are out long enough for this purpose has been shewn by the exhibitions of Mr. Cock, who only requires a well-rooted small plant in September or October, to make a specimen for the following June shows. We do not say that all seedlings will in the second year make fine exhibition-plants, but most of them will do so for one part of the season. To refer to Orion's paper. Brilliant was shewn very fine at Chiswick in July by Mr. Staines. Crusader brings plenty of flower, though not all together, and the petals want dressing; and Delicatissimum was shewn by us twice last season (Orion says once), and it well deserves its " high character." Mount Etna and Painted Lady we can say nothing about; but Cavalier, a plant of weak habit and bad to winter, is a most profuse bloomer, and has been frequently shewn in the Worton-Cottage collections.
Jai Andrews, Delt & Zinco.
Printed by C. Chabot.
Indeed, it has been a rule with us to justify the selection of seedlings sent out from here by exhibiting them, and with them alone to compete in the class above referred to. During the last season, for instance, we have shewn Blanche 3 times (Orion says once), Rosamond 3, Gustavus 2, Mont Blanc 7, Rosalind 4, Gulielma 3, Cuyp 6, Painter 5, Star 5, Emily 4, Delicatissimum 2, Emilia 2, Governor 4, Centurion 2, and Sarah 3; and we should have shewn them oftener, had the schedule of the Horticultural Society, as at Regent's Park, required 12 plants instead of 6. With the above, Mr. Dobson invariably obtained the first prizes in the nurserymen's class.
We have felt our situation as the Superintendent of this publication to be a delicate one; and it has often prevented the appearance of articles on this our favourite flower, and remarks upon the exhibitions of them, which under other circumstances we should gladly have volunteered. We have now before us advertisements of a number of seedlings, giving them high characters; and we advertise ourselves half a dozen, the descriptions of which are given in the catalogue. Now we want the public to demand that all these flowers shall be seen next season in specimen plants. No excuse should be accepted, that the senders out do not exhibit. Perhaps they do not; but either of those successful cultivators, Mr. Staines or Mr. Cock, are ready to grow and exhibit a plant for the raisers, provided it is considered first-rate. Presuming that all the plants advertised this year for sale were so exhibited, the purchaser, with their descriptions in his hand, would be able to judge for himself how far such descriptions were correct or not; and he would be guided in his future purchases accordingly.
So with coloured illustrations, which appear from time to time (our own in the present month, and that of the same flowers in the Florists' Guide last July); let our readers remember to compare them with the varieties they are intended to represent, and judge accordingly how far they can trust us or not for the future. From every ordeal of the kind we should none of us shrink, nor should we from criticism; for criticism, like every thing else, can be tested. Mr. Hoyle's flowers of this season, for instance, are spoken of in the highest terms in several publications, in one of which our own productions, with a little exception, are declared worthless. Now this criticism, as well as the flowers, can be tested next season, and it should be done. We can afford quietly to wait till June, and then we must stand or fall by their exhibition, which must speak for or against us.
A Pelargonium, to be perfect, should come up to the received standard in all respects. This we may hope for; and it will form the mark at which we shall all aim for years to come. We have not yet reached it, however; and until we do so, improvements on the best varieties in cultivation must pass current for new and first-rate varieties. But let us be careful that we do not, in the absence of perfect flowers, set up a lower standard, and give a different value to productions than they deserve.
The two flowers forming our Plate were raised by Mr. Hoyle of Reading, and possess considerable value as novelties; Ocellatum, for its very peculiar markings upon the lower petals, combined with good habit and the long endurance of its flowers; and May Queen, for the freshness of its colouring. We are not surprised at Mr. Turner's having sold all the stock of them; for they are the very things for the trade, and cannot fail to give satisfaction.
But the critical amateur will reject them as wanting in many essential qualities; and the same may be said of our Major Domo and Tyrian Queen. Our own opinion is, that no great advance has been made in the two last seasons. We have gone forward, but not so fast as we had hoped and desired; and this was evident at the Seedling Pelargonium Exhibition held at the South London in July last. For the flowers then exhibited, and particularly for those to which prizes were awarded, we shall look out next year with considerable interest. Speaking of that exhibition reminds us that, as treasurer, we have in hand between four and five pounds; and a friend informs us that he knows of two pounds ready for subscription, if another meeting be determined upon.
We hope in this article we have said nothing that will occasion pain to any brother raiser or exhibitor, or lead him to imagine we can see no merits in the flowers of others. We receive no pecuniary advantage from publishing our present Plate; and feeling that we cannot place them so high as our contemporaries have done, we still think it right to wave our own judgment in deference to others, and by as faithful a drawing as our artist could make from the flowers themselves, to record in our pages a figured remembrance of them.