This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
A cold and cough warrant the luxury of an idle evening; and my Florist for 1848, just returned from the binder, makes it an agreeable one. The comparison of Mr. Beck's and Mr. Hoyle's views (pp. 6 and 320) on the "Points of the Pelargonium" is interesting to every admirer of that flower. Mr. Hoyle proposes that "abundance of bloom" shall be the first point of excellence in estimating the comparative merits of seedlings; whilst Mr. Beck proposes to substitute "novelty of colours." I venture to differ from both. I agree with Mr. Beck in thinking that no amateur would prefer abundance of bloom to brilliancy of colour: but I go further; for I venture to think it quite possible to obtain plants which should have too great a profusion of bloom. I admit that I have not yet seen a Pelargonium open to such an objection; but I have seen some of the "fancy Geraniums" which appeared all flower and no foliage. On looking at plants of this description, such as the Azaleas, for instance, at exhibitions, every one exclaims, "How splendid!" But look at these gorgeous masses of colour six consecutive days, and the eye turns from them positively fatigued and overwrought by the unrelieved brilliancy.
Unquestionably, sufficiency of bloom must form a material point in estimating the relative value of flowers; but to require profusion, or to estimate it as the first point, is the error of an exhibitor who values the flower only, or principally, as a subject for exhibition.
And now, having "said my say" as to Mr. Hoyle's view, let me have my difference also with Mr. Beck, who proposes that "novelty of colours" should be the first point. I rather doubt whether, on consideration, Mr. Beck would abide by this view of the case, since it seems sufficiently obvious that a colour may be quite novel without being in any degree attractive. Novelties, as such, may be valuable to the dealer; but if they have no other recommendation, they are worthless. I should not, however, have doubted that Mr. Beck's novelty was intended to imply beauty also, in which case I might have adopted his view, but for the drawings of those "odious frights" (as I heard a lady call them), "Clown," "Harlequin," and "Singularity," at p. 169. They really are enough to give a sensitive florist the nightmare; and the perpetuating the portraits of such abortions looks so much like what lawyers call "malice aforethought," that I am compelled to think that, in that one particular month in which they made their astounding appearance, Mr. Beck had forgotten that he was, what he really is, a good florist and true, and had dreamed that he was patron-general of some ancient horticultural curiosity-shop!
I have myself raised such dyspeptic seedlings, and have forthwith consigned them - totis viribus - with all manner of maledictions, to the deepest depths of my dung-pit. I hereby, however, hold out to Mr. Beck the promise of plenary absolution for his offence, on condition of his publishing a plate of some of his new and legitimate varieties in an early Number by way of penance; and conclude with good wishes to him, Mr. Hoyle, and all good florists, not forgetting their organ, The Florist.
Cornwall, Jan. 29. An Amateur.