This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
I feel assured that those of your readers who grow Auriculas, and especially who bloom them for exhibition, will receive the highest satisfaction and advantage in the adoption of the cold frame which I am about to describe. It is well known that the Auricula, being an Alpine plant, delights in, and requires for its health and vigour, a free and plentiful circulation of air, and that at all times; damp and confinement being, in an equal ratio, fruitful of evil.
The frame now recommended secures this principle to its fullest extent, and hence its especial adaptation to the cultivation of the Auricula; as also, indeed, to all other plants which bear not confinement, - as to the wintering of Verbenas, Pansies, Carnations, etc. It possesses, however, yet other advantages, whereby much trouble is saved to the exhibitor. It is well known that those Auriculas which are purposed for exhibition are removed from the frame, or place of growth, and are placed under hand-glasses, elevated to the height of the rim of the pots; such plan being highly favourable to the perfect development of their flowers, as affording at the same time shelter and a due admission of air. The trouble and watching attending all this I need not point out, it being so great that many rather forego its advantages than adopt the plan. In my frame, however, all the benefit of hand-glasses is secured, and the pots remain undisturbed; whilst the cultivator gets his whole collection, and not a few selected plants only, into bloom; and that under the most favourable circumstances.
On reference to the woodcut and explanation, it will appear obvious that, by this contrivance, any degree of ventilation, from the smallest admission of air to a free draught, may, by simply regulating the sliding-doors, be secured. Thus, if both the sliding-doors at the front and back be opened, there is a free draught below, around, and above the plants; if the lower doors only, the air but circulates beneath and amongst them; whilst if the door or doors at one end only be opened, as when cold winds prevail, there is the moderate admission of air without draught.
The shelves on which the pots are placed having an open space throughout their length, and, what is of much moment, being elevated from the ground, not only is the principle of ventilation more efficiently carried out, but all such evils as worms, damp, saturation, etc. are wholly excluded. Giving blooming plants air by tilting up the top-lights, as commonly practised, is very objectionable; exposing them as it does, to be chilled and disturbed by cold air or wind coming directly upon them, or even to the yet greater evil of being wet by a driving shower. In the frame now recommended all such evils or contingencies are impossible; the top-lights may be left down at all times, the florist leaving his plants for the whole day in perfect security, and with just so much air as he pleases to give them, - an advantage which will at least be duly estimated by those whose gardens are at a distance from their dwellings, or who have other occupations to attend to.
As the Auricula cannot have too much air, I would observe that, during the earlier time of its growth, and whilst it is throwing up the flower-stem, it may often be advantageous or necessary to tilt up the top-lights freely, or even to remove them altogether, during fine days, in order that the stems may not become drawn; but when the flowers begin to expand, let the lights be always down, and the sliding-doors open, as before explained.
Hull, 1th April, 1848.
P.S. I have tried doors letting down with hinges; but prefer the sliding-doors, as better fitted for regulating the quantity of air admitted.
References to Cuts.
A. The side-board of the frame, inner side.
B. The rest nailed to the side-board to support the shelves, and graduated according to slope of the top-light.
C. The shelf, formed of two pieces of strong laths, and fixed together at each end by short cross-pieces at the under side.
D. Outside view of the back-board of the frame, with its two sliding doors,
E being shut, and Fg open, and having a small knob for handle. The doors slide in a grooved beading of wood. The front-board of the frame is similar to the back-board, D, now described.