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.
This is a very interesting and extensive order of plants, more remarkable, perhaps, for the great importance and value of the food products it yields to man and beast than for high ornamental qualities, though it comprises a large number of plants by no means deficient in that respect. The greater number of the ornamental species are comprised in comparatively few genera, and are mostly Alpine or sub-Alpine plants. Some very interesting and beautiful species, from peculiar habitats, are difficult to grow and keep under ordinary, or even extraordinary, conditions; but such have been avoided in making selections, and only such as will succeed with ordinary facilities adopted. Many of those selected are adapted to a variety of purposes; they will be found beautiful objects on rockwork, and for edgings and masses in the spring flower-garden; and the majority are available in a variety of soils for culture in the mixed border, while there are a few that will be found very useful for naturalising in woods and semi-wild places.
The uses to which they may be applied and the culture will be noticed more particularly under the genera and species as they are severally considered.