This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
As to the bizarrs, there are two sorts, the old and the new ones. The old kinds are those which have a bottom of a different colour from the stripes; the most common have a white bottom with a yellow or gilt stripe: this kind is of a common size, and very apt to degenerate. The new kinds of bizarrs are either raised in England, or from seeds brought from thence. They are admirably variegated, and charm by the great quantity of colours, which you often find as different, even in the same flower, as white from black. These are not generally so large as the others; but this fault may be corrected by sowing. They are commonly covered with a very fine white powder, which being laid very thick on the bottom renders them most distin-guishably brilliant.
The very round ones are much valued, but very scarce; it is almost surprising if you raise one in 500 with this perfection, they are so apt to come pointed or starry. But if any are so lucky as to gain such as are perfect in their shapes and other properties, it is no wonder that a truly knowing florist attaches himself most of all to this kind, because it does not degenerate, and besides contains all the good qualities both of the pures and flakes, its colour being as glossy, its stripes more regular, its bottom large, round, and full of lustre, and its flower-leaves stronger and thicker than any of the others. But as very fine ones of this kind are not common, and very hard to come at, so that, I suppose, is the reason why they have but few partisans. On the other side, it is necessary that a man should have a hundred plants of a kind to attach himself to it. Surely that affords a reason for lessening his esteem for it. Those that are rare ought to please more than those which are common and no whit better; some of these bizarrs have bottoms of a lemon or gold colour, and without any powder at all. There are but very few that are charmed with the sight of a single Auricula, let it be ever so fine.
That pleasure is only reserved for true judges, who are capable of distinguishing it for its merit. A fine flower has this advantage, that it need not be pointed to, in order to shew it, or raise it in the esteem of a curious connoisseur.
It is certain that a number of pots of Auriculas well blown and orderly ranged will give a great delight, not only to good judges, but to those who have the least taste or fancy for flowers, in short, the whole pleases them; but it is only such as are nicely curious that are able to decide whether the whole composition deserves attention. These may be easily discovered by the strict examination they give each flower, as well as by the determination they make of their value; whereas, on the contrary, ignorant pretenders to this kind of knowledge generally fly from one flower to another; and with so little knowledge and discernment, that they slightly pass over the most deserving, and bestow their applause with great injustice on some of the meanest flowers on the stage. This sort of gentry often betray themselves in the self-same instant that they would be esteemed amongst the most judicious connoisseurs, by desiring to be shewn your finest flower, when possibly it is immediately before their eyes.
This has often happened to myself, when my answer has constantly been, that the finest was that which pleased them most; and without doubt this was the way to please them too, as well as to avoid disagreeable and useless disputes, which are often the produce of ignorance and self-conceit. E. P.
Chevet Park, Wakefield.
[To be continued].