This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
People are of different opinions concerning the place where the Auricula was first found; some asserting that it was brought from the Alps; some that it came from a certain part of France; whilst others affirm that it was originally produced in Flanders. Be this as it will, it is certain the first found were of very bad colours, and had very small pips; and that from the seed of the best in succession we have gained those that are now seen in the greatest perfection.
As there are Auriculas of all colours, they are generally divided into three classes, viz. the pure, or self-coloured; the flaked, or striped, with two colours; the bizarrs, of several colours mixed. All true connoisseurs agree that, to the forming perfectly a good Auricula, several qualities and properties are absolutely requisite.
I shall now give my readers the best idea I can of them.
The green leaves, commonly called the grass, should be of a moderate size, and rather bent than straight; when they are too large and upright, the stem of the flower is hid, and sometimes the flower itself.
The pedicle, or footstalk of the flower ought to be strong, and able to support the truss when the flowers that form it are fully open.
The blossoms, or pips, should be round, flat, and composed of at least six equal leaves, and so joined as not to look like the sails of a windmill. This would render them despicable, and fit to be thrown aside; as are also the very pointed and starry flowers.
The pips should be at least an inch wide. This is still too little for certain florists, who seem to put the whole merit of an Auricula in its size; for the sake of which they will forgive many faults which the understanding curious always look upon as insupportable.
The leaves of the flower ought to be full and thick; should look like velvet or satin, shining or transparent.
The flower ought to lay itself well to the sight; for which purpose the flower-stalk, commonly called the finger, being what supports the pip, should neither be too weak nor too long; the weak one bends under the weight of the flower, and lets it drop; when the flower-stems are too long, though strong, they generally straggle, and cause the truss to widen so much as to appear very unsightly.
The bottom (or what the English call the eye) should be large; but, however, proportioned to the size of the whole flower, round, clear, and should not in any manner participate with the margin or self-colour.
That cut, or division, which parts every leaf of the pip should by no means enter into the eye (or bottom). This is a gross fault, and generally not enough attended to by the florists.
The bottom (or eye) of the pure and flaked Auriculas should be without powder; some of these flowers lose it in three or four days. To assist them in throwing it off, you should allow them to blow in the sun and rain. Some take it off with a fine soft pencil dipped in water; but this is not the best way.
Every flower should be furnished with little spangles, like gold sand (which the Flemmings call penicles, others pistills, or rosettes; but in England we know them by the name of thrums); and these should be full, and ranged in good order.
Every flower should preserve its colour until it dies. A good flower should never crumple, or be ragged at the edges.
That flower can never be good that blows in the shape of a trumpet. And lastly, the eye of the flower ought never to be too wide or open; the less it is, the more beautiful, and better filled with the thrum.
Many florists confound the eye with the bottom, but they are very different; the eye is the top of the pip, where the thrum is placed; the bottom is the white or yellow circle that is formed about the eye. Those Auriculas that look like velvet, and have all these qualities, are highly valued.
Chevet Park, Wakefield. E. P.
[To be continued].