This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
On the cover of the last Number the editor said wisely and well, that "a very imperfect opinion of the merits of a plant can be formed from single or picked flowers." Every one acquainted with the subject will readily agree to this. His memory will serve to remind him of many a seedling that has opened with great promise, and for whose reappearance in bloom he has impatiently waited the following season - only to be entirely disappointed; or his recollection may tell of flowers that, just at one short-lived period of expansion, have been all that he could desire, and yet whose beauties have all vanished after that point was passed. I remember a striking instance, the relation of which will fully support what is here said. One morning, in looking over some two-year old seedling Pelargoniums, I was particularly struck with a single flower of exquisite beauty of colour, in combination with very good form. I immediately cut the truss, and forwarded it in a round-about way, as I always have done, to The Florist office.
In the afternoon I was unexpectedly gratified in seeing my late friend Mr. Fox in our garden, who soon produced the flower in question, and handing it to me, looked for the expression of my admiration. "I think I can match that flower," said I; and taking him into the house, and pointing to a number of dull, flat-coloured blooms, "The one you have is a fresh flower," I remarked; "but these were as good at the same point of opening." He could only think me joking; but as I preserved my seriousness, and continued to repeat the opinion, he exclaimed at last, that I must have some affection of the eye that prevented my seeing aright. At last he said; with earnestness, "Do you really believe what you say?" "Yes," I added, "and for this reason, that the flower in your hand was cut from this very plant, and I wished to give you a striking proof of the worth!essness of opinions pronounced upon flowers unless seen in numbers or upon the plants themselves." We then fell into conversation upon the plan of forwarding flowers for opinion, its use or the contrary; and were mutually agreed that, as a means of informing raisers of their merits or demerits compared with varieties already in cultivation, such opinions were most valuable; but as a means of directing purchasers they were worthless.
And this view I was enabled to confirm by several examples of Roses, Pansies, Petunias, etc, single flowers of which we could gather at the moment far superior to the general bloom of the variety. So, again, I shewed him how some flowers, gathered as they were expanding, and placed in water, and in a room with a north aspect, were totally different from those on the plants in the greenhouse or open air. The sum of our conference was this: That it should be stated, when giving opinions on specimens, what number of flowers were sent, with other particulars; and I hope this will be done in future, in The Florist at least.