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.
The ordinary meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society of the 2d of March can only be briefly noticed, though there were many points of interest. One of the prime features was the Camellias in pots, the best six being shown by Mr C. Turner, who had nice pyramidal grown plants from 4 to 5 feet in height, well flowered, and the foliage as healthy and clean as could well be wished. The sorts were Mexicana nova, Madame Lebois, and De Notaris, shades of red; Sacco nova and La Constituzione, salmon rose; and II cygno, white. There was another group from Mr Wilkie, Kensington, but not nearly so fine. There were prizes for cut blooms of Camellias, but they were not so good as might have been expected. Forced or unforced shrubs in flower, which one would have thought could have been made an interesting feature, were quite poor, only one group of very ordinary plants being produced. Mr Howard of Balham, well known as an admirable cultivator of the Lily of the Valley in pots, had some capital plants that were well done. Groups of Orchids were exhibited by Messrs Veitch & Sons, B. S. Williams, Lord Londesborough, and others; and they made a charming display.
The demand on our space forbids any mention of these in detail.
Prizes were also offered for new and also for late-kept Grapes, but the former were not represented. In the way of late Grapes, Mr Bannerman, gardener to Lord Bagot, Blithfield, Rugeley, sent some excellent bunches of Lady Downes that were of fine flavour. Mr Johnstone, Glamis Castle Gardens, had some Muscat of Alexandria, which, though somewhat shrunken, were very finely flavoured, and some thought the preference should have been given to these over Lady Downes. The Muscats were ripe in the beginning of August, and were cut from the Vine on the 2d of November last. Mr Meredith had some Black Alicante and Lady Downes cut from a north-house much shaded by Elm-trees, but they were of very good quality. In addition to other vegetables, such as forced Asparagus, Seakale, etc, there were some specimens of variegated Brussels Sprouts sent by Mr G. Beech, the Gardens, Castle Ashby, Northampton: the variegation was not very distinct, while the probability of the plant being of any use for decorative purposes seemed very small indeed.
On March 16th, the annual show of Hyacinths and other spring flowers, in connection with the Royal Horticultural Society, was held at South Kensington. It was not so extensive as last year's, owing to Mr William Paul not appearing as an exhibitor, though had he done so, there is reason to believe he would have carried off some of the leading honours. Mr Paul, instead of exhibiting, concentrated his strength on his spring show in the northern arcade, and made a most excellent display, groups of flowering and foliaged plants being nicely alternated. The Hyacinths were not so fine as last year - there was lacking that massiveness of spike and superb finish that characterised last year's growth in so remarkable a manner; but so fine a development appears to happen only at intervals of a few years. With eighteen Hyacinths distinct, as well as with eighteen blue Hyacinths distinct, Messrs W. Cutbush & Son were first in each instance, having in the former case General Havelock, Baron Van Tuyll, Nimrod, De Candolle, Charles Dickens, Lord Palmerston, and Grand Lilas, shades of blue; Von Schiller, Macaulay, Mrs Beecher Stowe, Florence Nightingale, Charles Dickens, a very handsome pale - pink variety, and Princess Charlotte, shades of red; Emme-line, Grandeur a Merveille, Snowball, and Mirandoline, white; and Haydn, mauve.
There was no competition in this class. The eighteen blue kinds comprised General Havelock, Lord Melville, Baron Van Tuyll, Mimosa, Prince Albert, Hamilton, Raphael, Nimrod, Pieneman, very large bells and spike; Charles Dickens, Grand Lilas, Van Speyk, Lord Palmerston, Blue Mourant, Garrick, Marie, Argus, and De Candolle. Mr C. Turner was second, the best spikes being Marie, Charles Dickens, General Havelock, De Candolle, and Czar Peter, a large-belled pale-blue variety.
The most interesting class was that for 36 Hyacinths in 12 varieties, 3 of each, the sum of fifteen guineas being offered in 4 prizes by some of the Haarlem bulb-growers. Messrs W. Cutbush & Son were the only exhibitors here, having Argus, very fine; Baron Van Tuyll, Charles Dickens, and Grand Lilas, blue; Von Schiller, Macaulay, and Florence Nightingale, very pretty indeed, and Due de Malakoff, red; Haydn, mauve; Mont Blanc, Queen of the Netherlands, and Gigantea, white. Mr T. A. Steel had the best six Hyacinths in the Amateur Class. They were, Baron van Tuyll, Charles Dickens, Von Schiller, Gigantea, Grand Lilas, and Alba Superbissima. The second and third collections were very nearly equal. Messrs W. Cutbush & Son offered a prize of three guineas for the best 12 Hyacinths, distinct, grown by amateurs or gentlemen's gardeners. This was won by Mr Weir, gardener to Mrs Hodgson, Hampstead, who had Charles Dickens, Marie, Grand Lilas, and General Havelock, blue; Haydn, mauve; Von Schiller, Macaulay, Florence Nightingale, Due de Malakoff, and Emmeline, red; Ida, yellow; and Mont Blanc, white.
By the same firm the sum of two guineas was offered on the same conditions for 12 pots of Tulips, distinct; and Mr T. A. Steel was first with a capital set, comprising Van der Neer, Keizer Kroon, Tournesol, "White Pottebakker, Due d'Aremberg, Proserpine, Bruid van Haarlem, Cottage Maid, Jaght van Rotterdam, Vermillion Brilliant, Chryslora, and Couleur Cardinal, all single; and Tournesol, double. Mr Weir had some good flowers also, especially Queen of Violets, Proserpine, Joost van Vondel, Couleur Cardinal, and Chryslora. Collections of Narcissi and Crocuses, both of indifferent character, were staged also.
Splendid groups of Orchids were furnished by Messrs Veitch & Sons, Lord Lon-desborough, and B. S. Williams, comprising some very fine examples of many of the rarer kinds. Attractive as the Hyacinths were, yet the visitors lingered about the Orchids, and no one wondered they did so. Among them was a splendid example of Phalaenopsis Schilleriana, and some beautiful forms of the chaste Odontoglos-sum Alexandra. Particularly noticeable was a fine group of Palms, etc, for table decoration, contributed by Mr J. W. Wimsett of Chelsea. The tallest of the Palms were on nice stems, and underneath their elegant drooping fronds were placed flowering-plants of Hoteia japonica, with here and there a dark-foliaged Dracaena by way of contrast, the group edged with the drooping grass-like Isolepis tenella. A charming group of spring-flowering plants was contributed by Mr T. S. Ware, Hall Farm Nurseries, Tottenham, containing pans of Scilla bifolia, S. bifolia alba, S. Siberica, Saxifraga oppositifolia major, a very pretty dwarf free-blooming species; Hepaticas, etc.
Two large groups of Tulips in pots were also furnished by Messrs Barnaart & Eldering of Haarlem, Holland, that had travelled the distance remarkably well, and made a very effective display.
In the way of fruit there were some excellent dessert and kitchen Apples - the latter being especially fine and well preserved; and Mr W. Thomson, Dalkeith, sent bunches of his new white Grape Lady Downes, taken from a Vine on its own roots, also from one grafted on the black Lady Downes. In the last-named case the berries were rather smaller, but were considered to have the best flavour.
In addition to Mr William Paul's spring display at the Royal Horticultural Gardens - a most attractive show in itself - Messrs W. Cutbush & Son make a similar display at the Crystal Palace, and all the resources of this firm are brought into requisition to enrich their exhibition. Each of these remains open to public view for some ten or twelve days, and must do much in the way of making flowers of this character extremely popular. It may be also stated in this connection that the show of the Royal Horticultural Society on the 16th inst. made the fifteenth time that Messrs W. Cutbush & Son had exhibited Hyacinths, and the thirteenth time they had been awarded the premier prize for Hyacinths.