This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
"Come, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come, And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud, While music wakes around, veiled in a shower Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend".
All lovers of a garden will most heartily join in the great rural poet's invocation to Spring; for the time is fast approaching when the tender plants, that with so much care and attention have been nursed through the winter under glass, must be trusted to the mercy of the weather in the flower-garden beds; and if a gay garden is expected, not a day must now be lost in making the necessary provision by potting-off spring-struck cuttings, if that has not already been done. Cuttings of the plants we have spoken of in former papers may yet be struck for the purpose of filling any beds that are likely to be made vacant in June by the removal of spring-flowering plants.
As space is a most important consideration at this season of the year, it will be advisable to turn out early in this month, if the weather is favourable, all the less tender things, as Pentstemons and Snapdragons, by which more room will be made in the pits, etc. for such plants as may not yet be risked in the open ground. When, however, a sharp frost threatens, mats, or some other protective material, ought to be spread over the recently-exposed plants. Not only will pit-room be gained by planting as early as it can safely be done, but the emptied pots can be replenished with other plants, and thus a smaller stock of these fragile utensils will be required. Such minute matters of economy are never lost sight of in a well-ordered garden.
Although our gardens are as yet less attractive than they will be some months hence, when a greater display of floral beauty is exhibited, there are now sufficient objects of interest in the spring-flowers and the unfolding buds to induce frequent walks therein; so that it will be requisite to pay more attention to keeping than has been necessary during the last few months. If the flower-beds are margined with box, it will most likely require clipping; if with turf, the edges should be cut true before the beds are filled: the grass itself will also probably require mowing in the beginning of this month; for it is advisable to commence this troublesome but necessary process early in the season. An allusion to this subject, by way of reminder, will be sufficient now; we shall therefore resume our remarks upon the most desirable plants for beds.
For producing a gorgeous mass of colour, no plant surpasses the scarlet Geranium - a name which, by the way, might be changed with advantage, inasmuch as some of the varieties have pink, and others what is termed peach-blossom-coloured flowers, and there is one in existence which actually has white flowers. Many new kinds are annually sold by nurserymen, some of which prove inferior in all respects to well-known sorts; it is therefore advisable for purchasers to see and judge for themselves. One of the best that has come under our notice is Nimrod, in which a good habit and a large well-formed high-coloured flower are combined; this, however, is not a new variety. Another, raised by Mr. Reid, of Mount Scilla Nursery, near Chippenham, and named Ileidii, has flowers of the most vivid scarlet, dark horse-shoe leaves, and a dwarf habit. This is an admirable bedding Geranium, and promises to supersede many of the leading sorts for that purpose. Several improvements upon the pretty kind known as Lucia rosea have been raised from seeds, and one of the best of them is Ingram's Princess Alice, which has much brighter colours than its parent, and likewise seems to produce them more freely.
But the greatest advance has been made in the variegated-leaved scarlet Geranium. A plant of this tribe, called by the over-lengthy name of "The Flower of the Day," was exhibited last season by Messrs. Lee, of Hammersmith, which, if it answers the expectations formed of it, will quite set aside most of the variegated varieties. The leaves are large and flat, deeply margined with white, and the flowers resemble in colour those of Compactum.
For the information of such of our readers as may be partial to plants with variegated foliage, it might be mentioned here that there is an Ivy-leaved Geranium which has that peculiarity.
In this month the seeds of annual flowers are generally sown in small patches in the vacant spaces of the mixed borders of herbaceous plants. It was intimated in a former number that many of the old annuals had been unjustly deposed by their modern rivals, less, however, on account of the superior merit of the latter than in consequence of the charm always conferred by novelty. It will perhaps assist to rescue some of these former favourites from undeserved oblivion, if we here give a list of some of the most desirable, and add a recommendation to our readers to give them one year's trial, when, by taking notes of their respective habits, colour, duration, and other properties, much really useful information will be obtained with a view to their future more effective cultivation. If a small piece of ground in some corner of the garden was to be set aside for growing the undernamed kinds, together with the newer and more popular species, the making of a judicious selection would be greatly facilitated.
The drooping blood-coloured feathery flowers have a striking appearance.
A very dwarf-growing plant, with blue flowers; well suited for an edging to a bed of some other colour.
Its little tufts of orange-scarlet flowers are very pretty.
Colour, different shades of yellow, from lemon to dark orange. The true double sort is very handsome.
Colours white and purple, showy.
Centauria Moschata (Sweet Sultan) has large purple composite flowers.
C. Suaveolens (Yellow Sultan) has showy yellow flowers. Chrysanthemum coronarium. The double variety is useful where tall annuals are wanted, as it grows a yard high; colour, yellow.
Its large blue and white flowers and trailing habit make this plant suitable for bedding; more especially a dark purple variety, which as yet is not in general cultivation.
Flowers of divers colours, and when double they equal the Hyacinth in beauty.
D. Consolida (Branching Larkspur) grows taller and is more branching than the preceding. Both the single and double varieties are handsome, and it continues a long time in bloom.
The double varieties are exceedingly pretty, and should be propagated by cuttings.
The shining gold-coloured flowers of this species continue a long time in perfection; there is also a white variety.
The strong contrast between the yellowish white blossoms and their nearly black eyes renders this plant attractive, although the flowers are not numerous.
There are varieties with white and with purple flowers, all very showy.
Lupinus Albus (The White Lupin), L. luteus (the yellow Lupin), and L. pilosus (the rose-coloured Lupin), are equal in beauty to any of the newer species, except L. nanus, which is the dwarfest and prettiest of them all.
Malcomia Maritima (Virginian Stock) is very dwarf, very pretty, and fragrant; one variety has pink, and another white blossoms.
Some of the double-flowered varieties of this common weed are exceedingly handsome.
The double varieties of this species are showy, particularly one known as the Carnation Poppy, whose white flowers are delicately edged with red.
Flowers yellow, with a dark disc; habit trailing.
A purple flower, showy in its single state; and the double varieties (which should be perpetuated by cuttings) possess much beauty.
The large light and deep yellow flowers are strikingly showy when they come double.
Dwarfer and more spreading than the preceding. Some of the double kinds are very fine, and the plant has the further merit of blooming a long time in succession.
Some of the varieties of this species have splendid flowers, but the best are obtained from imported seeds.
J. B. Whiting.