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.
Resuming our "Records" at this point, we note that a tall weeping Ash, with a golden-leaved JapaneseHoneysuckle trained round the stem, afforded an opportunity for the planting of a circle of the double-flowering Pelargonium, Triomphe de Gergovat, but one apparently worthless for bedding purposes. Round this was a line of Mann's brilliant scarlet zonal Lord Derby, with small trusses of bloom as usual, but the flowers of a fine hue, and, as when cultivated in pots, of the finest form; and round this a capital gold and bronze Pelargonium Mr Gibson intends to try again, so much was he pleased with it, it being dwarf in habit and very effective. Near this was an oval-shaped bed, having in the centre Vitis hetero-phylla variegata, the leaves nicely edged and blotched with silver. Round this was a line of Lonicera aureo-reticulata, nicely coloured, and therefore a good contrast, edged with Teleianthera (Alternanthera) versicolor, here an exquisite edging plant, the dark bronze and bright red leaves blotched with white; but it must be borne in mind that the enclosed subtropical garden at Battersea Park is highly favourable to the wellbeing of tender bedding plants, that altogether fail in exposed and wet situations.
The next bed was of a long oval shape, facing towards the walk, having at the back three lines of variegated zonal Pelargonium Mrs Pollock, Louisa Smith in the centre, and Lady Cullum in front. Between each of these sections of variegated zonal Pelargoniums was a line of a so-called dwarf Ageratum named Prince Arthur, but much too tall-growing for such an arrangement, as it buried the Pelargoniums. Mr Gibson remarked that a dwarf-growing blue Ageratum was much needed in the flower-garden, and this has no doubt been found in Ageratum Imperial dwarf, to the admirable qualities of which Mr Plester calls attention on another page. Lady Cullum was very fine and effective in this relation, and bids fair to take the lead as a bedder among the variegated zonal Pelargoniums. Close by this bed was another of circular shape, almost wholly filled with Crystal Palace Gem, one of the golden-leaved section of bedding Pelargoniums, in praise of which too much can scarcely be written. Then came one of those beds so peculiar to Battersea Park, and so unusual elsewhere - namely, one of circular shape, filled with various forms of the Erythrina. In the centre was a disc of the old E. crista-galli; round this, E. Madame Belanger; encircling this, in its turn, was E. ornata, very fine indeed; then, on the outside, Madame Bel-anger appeared again, a very fine dark form that deserves to be more frequently seen in gardens; then a circle of Heliotrope Miss Nightingale, and a margin of Sempervivum barbatum bearing yellow flowers.
The Continental horticulturists have certainly done much of late years in the way of improving the Erythrina, for there are now several fine and varied kinds well worthy attention. Still another circular bed, having in the centre Gaiety, bedding Pelargonium; round this was Beauty of Calderdale, one of Wills's gold and bronze Pelargoniums, quite dull-looking, and had been so all the summer. To quote Mr Gibson's expression, "It had not behaved well with him." Round this was blue Lobelia, next Wills's new golden Christine bedding Pelargonium, a nice edging plant, but of a rather "miffy" habit; round this Alternanthera paronychioides, and an outside edging of Echeveria secunda glauca. These two outer circles composed what may be truly denominated "a perfect edging." Now came in view a raised side-border edged with Viola lutea grandiflora, a grand yellow summer bedding plant, which as far transcends the ordinary form of V. lutea, both in the size of the flowers and effectiveness, as the new V. Perfection does the old V. cornuta. Bedders-out, who find the yellow Calceolaria unmanageable, and who are sighing for yellow bedding plants, should keep their eye on this; and some large-flowering forms of V. lutea, report states, will shortly be offered.
Some of the new golden-leaved Coleuses were bedded out here and there, and though we could not become highly enamoured of what we saw of their adaptability for bedding purposes, yet Mr Gibson said he was not disposed to give up their use without another trial. Ho states that they want growing in the shade to bring out their peculiar leaf-hues. Next came some bold and striking groups of Yuccas, indispensable to the subtropical department, like the shading that, by an almost perfect contrast, brings out clear and distinct the exquisite colouring of some great master painter. Yucca aloifolia plays an important part in Mr Gibson's groups. Canna discolor floribunda deserves to be recorded as one of the very best of the dark-leaved kinds; there was a group of it with leaves so beautiful, bronzy, and glossy, as to strike the eye at once; it was edged with the double white Balsam. Then came an irregular triangular-shaped bed, having a centre of several plants of the grand Musa Ensete; round this was Coleus Bateraanni, good as a dark-leaved kind, and stands well; then Coleus Verschaffelti marmoratus, which had been very fine and effective indeed, though with the cool damp nights the "glory was departing;" the edging, Sempervivum Californicum. Solanum "Warscwiczioides should be noted as a fine-foliaged plant for such work as we are now describing.
Now came a fine bed of triangular shape, having three Musas in the centre; under and around them was a kind of carpet of Coleus Blumei and C. Lamonti, the last named of the Blumei type, but a little greener in the leaf, and edged with Sempervivum Californicum. These Coleuses are of good service in the summer, but are scarcely adapted for late work, as they come too green in the leaf then. Zonal Pelargonium Leonidas was very fine in the centre of a circular bed, the flowers of a rich deep glowing scarlet hue, the trusses of bloom small, but the individual pips of great size. On the other hand, hybrid Nosegay Pelargonium Christine Nillson, with deep-pink flowers, may be justly condemned as of no use. It is well, in treating of bedding plants, to intimate what to avoid, as well as what to specially select. Gold and bronze Pelargonium Artemus Ward had been good early in the season, but failed as the advancing shadows of autumn threw their dark lines over the scene; the leaves came blotched with green and gold when in good condition, and had a lively chocolate zone. A perfect bed was one of oval shape, having in the centre a large mass of Coleus Verschaffelti; round this Centaurea candidissima, and an edging of Sempervivum Californicum, No more need be said in praise of the arrangement.