This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
" Here's flowers for you;
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The marigold, that goes to bed with the sun, And with him rises weeping; daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty; violets, dim, But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes, Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses, That die unmarried ere they can behold Bright Phoebus in his strength; bold oxlips, and The crown-imperial; lilies of all kinds, The flower-de-luce being one." Shakspere.
From the beautiful language of Perdita we learn what flowers were favourites with the ladies in the days when Shakspere wrote; and it is worthy of note, that the plants named in the above extract still hold a prominent place in our esteem, notwithstanding the numberless kinds which, since that period, have been brought to this country from all parts of the world by enterprising nurserymen and private patrons of gardening.
Amongst all these modern introductions, there is not a greater acquisition to the flower-garden as a decorative plant than the Verbena; - not the shrubby fragrant-leaved plant frequently called by that name (which is Aloysia citriodord), but those beautiful things with "flowers of all hues," that have been produced by the skill of modern gardeners by means of hybridising some few natural species originally brought from America.
Last summer I had an opportunity of inspecting the extensive collection of sorts cultivated for sale in the nursery of Messrs. Henderson, Edgeware Road, London; and the following is a selection of what appeared to me to be the most distinct and desirable kinds for planting in masses. As, however, the purchasing of a sufficient number of plants of each variety to fill an entire bed, would amount to a considerable sum, those to whom expense is an important object might procure one plant of each sort, which would make a mixed bed; then in autumn any number of the colours which are preferred can be struck from cuttings. In the matter of colour, I must claim the kind indulgence of those to whom this page is more especially addressed; for none but a lady or a painter can correctly designate the multitudinous tints with which the Verbena is adorned.
Chauviere's John Salter, vivid scarlet, crimson centre, and whitish eye; Due de Cazes, purplish carmine, with darker centre; Barker's Duchess of Northumberland, salmony pink; Smith's Duchess, pale pink, or blush; Smith's Psyche, rosy pink, with whitish eye; Dufoy's Favourite, dark blue, with white eye; Bell's Vulcan Superb, crimson, with darker centre; Andrews' Magniflora, purplish rose, darker centre, and light eye; Dufoy's Apollon, dark purple, with still darker centre; Ramona, maroon, distinct whitish eye; Meillez' Louis Napoleon, crimson scarlet, darker centre anil light eye; Meillez' Louise de France, pale rose; Barker's Bride, white; Wyness's Princess Alice, white or pale blush, with deep cherry centre.
Those which follow, being older sorts, can be bought by the dozen at a small cost; and most of them are quite equal for planting out to the newer and more expensive ones.
Barkerii, deep scarlet, habit close and neat; Robinson's Defiance, vivid scarlet, habit Btrong and coarse; Barker's Marchioness of Ailsa, pale pink; Barker's St. Margaret's, rosy crimson, centre suffused with purple; Ivery's Emperor of China, crimson, light eye; Chauviere's Valentine de Saveuse, lilac; Gem of the West, rose, yellowish eye; Duchesse d'Aumale, lilac; Louis Philippe, maroon.
The Petunia is another plant which has been greatly improved since its introduction to our gardens, although of late the skill of hybridists has been misdirected to the production of size of blossom and novelty of colour; the first of which qualities lessens instead of increasing the value of the Petunia as a flower-garden plant. It will be found that the most effective kinds are those whose flowers are not so large as to be incapable of retaining their proper shape, and whose colours are bright and distinct; and such must chiefly be sought for amongst the older varieties; as, Elegans, bright rosy purple; Lady Peel, crimson purple; Sir Robert Peel, French white, with dark pencilled eye; Enchantress, pale pink or blush, with dark throat; Van Houttei, pink, veined with crimson. Of the new flowers exhibited last season, one or two deserve attention; and perhaps the best of them for a bed is Count Zichy, a small rosy-purple flower, with a distinct white throat, in the way of an older variety named Shrubland Rose.
A greater assortment of colours may be acquired by saving seeds in autumn from the different varieties. If the seed is sown towards the end of the present month in pans under glass, and the seedlings pricked out when large enough into other pans, the plants will come in usefully to fill the beds vacated by the early-flowering annuals; then the most approved kinds may be propagated in autumn by means of cuttings, and thus a stock of suitable sorts for bedding in the ensuing spring can be obtained.
While on the subject of bedding-plants, we will make use of the opportunity to indicate a few improved varieties of other popular flowers. A species of Pentstemon erroneously known in gardens as P. gentianoides, affords several new varieties, the best of which that I have seen are called Princess Helena, Buckii, Fulgidus, and Elegans. All these have red flowers of different shades. The kind first brought to this country has purple flowers, on which account it ought not to be lost sight of; then there is a variety of recent origin with white blossoms, which makes it very desirable. There is also a newly introduced species of Pentstemon called cordifolius, worthy of a place in the flower-garden; not, however, as a bedding plant, for which purpose its dull red colour unfits it. Several of the finest species of this eminently beautiful genus have been lost to the country by exposure in wet and cold borders, whereas many infinitely inferior plants are petted in pots through the winter. One of the handsomest, however, is yet obtainable, although much scarcer in the country than its merit would lead one to suppose. This is P. spe-ciosus, whose flowers are of the most beautiful blue colour imaginable.
Seeds should be sown in spring, and the young plants grown in pots till the next spring, then to be planted in the borders, where their beauty when in bloom will amply repay this little extra trouble.
Then comes the Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), a common but highly ornamental old plant, which has latterly been under the hands of the improver, although hitherto without any very encouraging result so far as the real advancement of the flower is concerned. Some of the new kinds are highly praised; but none that I have seen surpass in effect the old bi-coloured, tri-coloured, deep crimson, white, and bright yellow varieties. Those who desire to try the new sorts should purchase the set advertised by Mr. Turner in the last number of the Florist, and propagate by cuttings the colours that are preferred.
Among shrubby Calceolarias, the Kentish Hero is worthy of particular notice as a bedding-plant. The individual flowers are ill shaped, and the colours (yellow and brown) not bright; yet its distinctness and profuseness of bloom combine to make it a very desirable thing. C. amplexicaulis has bright yellow flowers, and Kayana (or Caieana?) is of a deeper yellow, and both these form showy beds. Further remarks upon this class of plants must, however, be deferred till next month. J. B. Whiting.
N.B. Whenever I mention nurserymen's names, it is to be understood that any respectable man can supply the articles alluded to.