This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Few flowers have so rapidly "come to the front" as the Chrysanthemums, and none more fully deserve their popularity. They are easily grown, and the species (Sinense) comprises a wonderful variety of forms and colours, which are at their best when flowers generally are very scarce - for this reason alone deserving all that can be written in their favour. They are especially suited for town and suburban culture, as witness the large collections formed in the very heart of London - viz., the Temple Gardens, and the innumerable well-grown collections in the metropolitan area. The Chrysanthemum Shows, which are fast on the increase, have done much to heighten the love for Chrysanthemums, and also to demonstrate to what perfection they may be grown. Anything like a full report of even a few of the best of these would be out of place in the 'Gardener,' and in this communication reference will be made to the primary exhibits rather than to exhibitors. Concerning the collections in the Temple Gardens, which by the kindness of the Benchers were open to the inspection of all comers, we must confess to a feeling of disappointment.
It may be said, "What could be expected from plants grown in the city of London?" Not much, certainly, by those who know what a miserable atmosphere there is to contend with; but we were led by glowing reports in contemporaries to expect greater things. As a group they were certainly very effective; but the blooms individually would bear no comparison with those to be seen in numbers of smaller private collections. In one instance, indeed, the whole collection was below mediocrity. They were grown too weakly early in the season. Here, as in many other instances, the plants are grown with a single stem, the head consisting of three or four shoots, each carrying one large bloom. This admits of a great number being grown; and as they are grouped closely, a very effective floral bank is formed. Of course those trained for exhibition are trained either as standards, pyramids, or dwarfs; but in either case, unless well done, they present a very miserable appearance. This was strongly exemplified at the London Aquarium Show, though it must be admitted that the specimens were perched up on a ridiculously high platform, so that even those that were well grown presented a rather undignified appearance.
From what we hear, the finest dwarf-trained specimens seen this season were exhibited at the Birmingham Show, the exhibitors being Messrs Stacey, Crook, and Denning, who received the awards in the order named. They were certainly smaller than several of the giants staged at the Aquarium (some of which were 8 or 9 feet in diameter) and at other Shows, but were much more profusely flowered, carrying in some instances fully 250 well-formed blooms. The varieties suitable for training are rather limited in number, as the majority are too stiff in growth. Those that are adapted for this purpose are Mrs G. Rundle, and the two sports from it, Mrs Dixon and G. Glenny (these are to be seen in nearly every group), Lady Talfourd, Lady Slade, Prince Alfred, Fingal, Bronze Jardin des Plants, White Venus, Lady Hardinge, Empress of India, Prince of Wales, Eve, Golden Beverley, Dr Sharpe, Aureum multiflorum, Mr Brunlees, Julie Lagravere, Hero of Stoke Newington, and Mrs Haliburton. Every schedule includes classes for trained Pompones; but, as a rule, they are not very effective.
Those varieties usually shown are the White, Lilac, and Golden Cedo Nulliis, Mdlle. Marthe, Bob, Fanny, Antonius, Salamon, Helena, St Michael, Aurora Boreale, and Brilliant. Good Anemone-flowered Pompone3 are Antonius, Calliope, Mr Astie, Sidonia astarte, Firefly, Dick Turpin, Marie Stuart, and Miss Nightingale. The classes for cut-blooms are the most popular with the growers, as they are invariably well filled - some of the exhibits being really extraordinarily good. The way they are shown unfortunately mitigates greatly against them. Complaints are often made of the formality of the approved method of exhibiting cut-Roses; but they compare most favourably with the Chrysanthemums, as, in addition to their own good foliage, they have a groundwork of beautiful Moss, whereas the Chrysanthemum has nothing but the green boards to show them up. Why not use Moss in this case also ? Real lovers of this flower, doubtless, do not heed the surroundings, but there are many who do. Although good growers are numerous in the south, the premier collection of cut - blooms of the year was undoubtedly that which gained Mr Sunnington of Liverpool the Champion Challenge Vase at the Kingston and Surbiton Show. It must be admitted that the Liverpool growers are somewhat atmospherically favoured : at the same time, there is no doubt that Mr Sunnington is thoroughly "at home" with the Chrysanthemum, and for this reason his selection is instructive.
Of incurved varieties he staged Novelty, Inner Temple, Beauty, "White Venus, Mrs Dixon, Jardin des Plants, Empress of India, Golden Empress of India, Prince Alfred, Queen of England, John Salter, Sir Stafford Carey, Mrs Heale, Lord Derby, Venus, Hero of Stoke Newington, Mrs G. Bundle, Princess of Wales, Nil Desperandum, Lady Hardinge, White Beverley, Prince of Wales, George Glenny, and White Venus; and of Japanese varieties, La Nymphe, Comtesse de Beauregard, Fleur Parfait, L'Incomparable, Apollo, Fulgore, Laciniatum, La Frissure, Baronne de Prailly, Nuit d'Automne, Mdlle. Moulix, Chang, Cry Kang, Meg Merrilees, Elaine, the Sultan, Bismarck, Peter the Great, Soleil Levant, Hero of Magdala, Fair Maid of Guernsey, Arlequin, M. Crousse, and Fulton. To the former selection may well be added Lady Talfourd, Mrs Haliburton, Mr Brunlees, Isabella Bott, Miss Mary Morgan, Dr Brock, Bella Donna, Golden Eagle, Mr Gladstone, Princess of Teck, Lady Slade, Baron Beust, Hereward, and Yellow Perfection. Other Japanese varieties that have been well shown are Magnum Bonum, Hiver Fleur, Gloire de Toulouse, Grandiflora, Striatum, Triomphe du Nord, the Daimio, Red Dragon, Dr Masters, Red Gauntlet, Meteor, Purpureum album, James Salter, Bouquet Fait, the Mikaido, and Oracle. On account of their greater novelty the stands of Japanese varieties command the largest share of attention, and no private collection can be called complete without a good selection of them being included.
They are too stiff in growth for training; but grown as standards they are wonderfully attractive, and being rather late-flowering, help to prolong the season considerably. Those incurved varieties recommended for training into specimens are the best for growing for cut-blooms and decorative purposes; and probably no four more useful varieties exist than the "Bundle family "and Julie Lagravere, and should be grown in great quantities if the demand is large.
' A Southern Correspondent.