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.
Of this there are a good many varieties, differing more or less in the size of the flowers, but all beautiful and very profuse-flowering plants. Purple is the universal colour, in one shade or another. They are excellent town-garden plants, and are among the very best for spring-bedding, being very hardy, and yielding a long succession of flowers during the months of March, April, and May.
Cheiranthus Alpinus And Cheiranthus Marshallii are the gems of this family, as regards their beauty and neatness of habit. The latter is the strongest flower of the two, rising to the height of about 9 inches; while the former, a little less in height, is also less effective and warm in colour, being pale yellow - the latter golden or orange yellow.
There are five or six species of this genus well worth growing where spring flowers are in demand. They are not the earliest to flower, yet some of them open their flowers in April, and continue to display them for a couple of months. The best are I. corifolia, a very dwarf and compact one, growing about 6 inches high; I. Garrexiana, about 9 inches high; and I. gibraltarica, about the same height as the last. All are white flowered. The two first named begin to flower in April, the last in May.
In a selection of this kind the universal favourite cannot be omitted; for although not of any use for the mere decoration of the flower-garden, it is indispensable among spring flowers on account of its delicious fragrance. There are numerous varieties, but the Czar, the Giant, and Queen Victoria, being larger flowered than most of the others, are best worth growing: their flower-stalks are stout and long in proportion to their flowers, and therefore so much better for cutting and making up when cut.
A very beautiful plant, growing to the height of about 1 foot, compact and neat. The flowers are bright purple-red, and very profuse, appearing in April and May.
A very neat and compact plant, with pretty, silky, grey leaves, growing only a few inches high, and bearing numerous racemes of bright purple flowers in May.
A rather large and coarse-leaved plant, but very free-flowering; and as the flowers last well when cut, it is well worth growing where cut flowers are in demand in spring. S. hypnoides; one of the mossy section of this valuable genus, closely carpeting the ground with bright verdure throughout the year, and clothing itself with bright, large white flowers during April and May. S. oppositi-folia: this is one of the prettiest, as it is one of the earliest, of spring flowers. The flowers are large, bright rosy-purple, and there is a fine white companion variety, both of which should be in every garden where spring flowers are desired. In early seasons the flowers open in February, but more generally in March, and last well through April.
A very neat growing plant of about 9 inches in height, with large purplish-blue flowers, which, along with its white-flowered variety, should be in every garden. It begins to bloom in May, and lasts for several months.
Daisies, in all their variety and profusion of flower, cannot be omitted from a list of spring flowers of the most ornamental character; they are indispensable to the spring-flower gardener.
A very gay plant, with large, bright yellow flowers, growing about 9 inches high, which open in May, and continue for about six weeks.
One of the earliest and best of this fine family, growing only a few inches high. It may often be seen in flower in early winter in mild seasons; and if the weather is favourable, it continues to flower till June. The flowers are rose, purplish, or white, according to the particular variety, of which there are several. E. australis and E. mediterranea are early-flowering sorts which are also valuable in the spring months.
Vinca Major And V. Minor are very pretty and free-blooming plants for rockwork, and for the front lines of shrubbery borders. They open their flowers in April and May.
The Gentianella is a very familiar plant to most readers, and is one of the most beautiful of spring flowers. G. verna, with its flowers appearing in April, is one of the choicest gems of spring. It is a tiny plant, by no means easy to cultivate, except in deep, cool, moist, rich loam; but wherever it will succeed, it should have a place. The flowers are a deep gentian blue.
This grows to the height of about 1 foot. The flowers are purplish-lilac, in compact panicles: they are very profuse, and open in April and May. P. frondosa is a neat, compact, trailing plant with pink-coloured flowers. P. reptans flowers in April and May, the flowers being large, numerous, and reddish-purple. P. setacea is a pale pink-flowered sort, the flowers of which appear about the same time as the above; and there is a pretty white-flowered variety of it named nivalis. P. subulata, also with pink flowers, and P. Nelsonii, a very fine white-flowered sort, are also valuable spring flowers.
Myosotis Dissitiflora And M. Sylvatica are beautiful spring-flowering Forget-me-nots which are largely used in spring-bedding, and which are indispensable.
Omphalodes Verna - having the flowers of a Forget-me-not both in regard of form and colour, but quite distinct leaves and habit of growth - is very beautiful throughout March and April.
Physochlaina Grandiflora And P. Orientalis - the former with pale yellow, the latter with deep purple flowers - are both excellent plants, growing about 1 foot high. Both flower in April and May.
Wm. Sutherland. Craigleith Nursery, Edinburgh.