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.
Every year the true admirers of beautiful plants are becoming more and more enamoured with the splendour displayed in hybrid Rhododendrons. Their utility in the open ground as decorative plants is so well known that any comment by us would only be a superfluity.
When the weather proves favourable to their proper development out of doors, the effect is simply magnificent; but under the protection of glass - no matter about the weather - in them we have an embodiment of much that is lovely, chaste, and noble, to an extent exhibited in few other flowering shrubs. These eminent qualities are not alone the means of commanding such universal esteem; to their credit we must add that they are exceedingly tractable in the forcing-house, besides the unusual length of time they may be had in flower throughout the year. For example, with us this season, from New Year's Day to Midsummer Day, we have had an uninterrupted display under glass - not a break in the succession of bloom, one variety or other having its offering of flowers daily for the bouquet. Now, without saying more by way of commendation, we shall advise those who have not a collection for their conservatory to form one at their earliest convenience. Further, for the edification of those of our readers who happen not to be acquainted with many of the best forcing varieties, I shall enumerate and describe a list out of which they need not hesitate to select or take at random.
Mrs John Clutton: A most chaste variety, and for delicacy and general finish hard to surpass; flowers glistening white, delicately suffused with blush; the upper petal is stained with reddish brown, succeeded by other markings of canary-yellow to the top of a small blotch. What enhances the effect of this flower is the presence of two uniform small round reddish spots, one opposite the other, situated exactly in the middle of blotch near the margin; form of flowers round, while the truss is handsome, bold, and tapering. - Minnie: Another of the first merit; the truss a model to imitate, showing a striking airy grace difficult to describe; flowers a solid glistening white, tinged blush. The blotch is a chief characteristic, being composed of closely-set markings of crimson brown, strong on the centre of upper lobes, and extending to the two which join it, one on each side. - La Vivandiere: This forms a delicate airy truss of pure waxy-white flowers, mottled above with greenish yellow; pretty. - Conces-sum: White, strongly suffused with rosy blush; has great flattish flowers; upper petals strongly marked with brownish-red pencillings washed over with yellow; truss extra large, of conical shape, very graceful and showy. - Mrs Mangles: Flowers campanulate, of sparkling French white, with a feathery outline of maroon touches- reaching from the centre petal on to those on each side; truss rather loose, but large. - Lady Godiva: White, with a bold marking of brisk yellow overspreading two parts of the centre petal; texture good; form flattish, but strikingly fine in outline. - Sultana: Twin sister to Lady Godiva, with perhaps the difference of appearance in her favour, having rather a cupped flower and more rounded petals or lobes, and markings of brownish yellow. - Madame Masson: Delicate pure white, with a marking above of pale-green spots; truss medium size; exceedingly pretty; much admired.
Black-eyed Susan: One of the most distinct and fine sorts, with bold large flattish flowers of a violet-purple cast, changing to a lighter hue towards the base of the corolla; its blotch is very conspicuous owing to its density of colour; the centre of the uppermost segment is dotted closely over with deep maroon touches, which extend to the segments on each side, where the marking is less distinct; again, over these markings is a coat of shining black; the truss is unusually large and effective, though rather loose. - Prince Albert: Centre of flower white, with a broad margin of mauve-purple; upper petal centre thinly-washed with pale-green; a mottling of the same cast of green is diffused along with others of brownish-red; flowers good substance; truss handsome, deep and pointed at the apex; elegant build. - Sherwoodii: Colour violet-purple; neat cup-flower and truss; upper portion of flowers marked by feathery tracings of maroon. - Stella: Blush, suffused with purple; stained and mottled maroon on upper segments; great flower and truss; somewhat resembling Black-eyed Susan. - Mazanere Panache: Colour violet-purple; upper portion densely stamped with maroon pencillings. - Everestianum: Blush-lilac, the centre of upper petal furnished with a pear-shape blotch of dullish white, which is mottled over with dusky yellow; the margin of corolla prettily crimped into a neat frill; splendid truss. - Fastuosum Flora Pleno: A double flower of rare appearance; colour violet-blush; flowers flattish (supported by stout lengthy footstalks), of extra size; truss of immense bulk, but a little loose.
Perspicuum: Rich blush of glistening waxy texture; a neat little flower, with upper petal mottled and blotted greenish-yellow; very distinct. - Exquisite: A sort quite in keeping with the name; flowers rich cream, suffused with blush, with deep orange markings on the upper segment; grand cluster tapering towards the apex; a charming build. - Prince C. de Rohan: A magnificent crown of rosy-white flowers; solid waxy substance, with a narrow crispy frill around the corolla; upper part stamped with a triangular blotch in closely-set mottlings of dullish vermilion, touched here and there with pure vermilion; first-rate.
The Black Douglas: Somewhat resembles Joseph Whitworth, but shows more deep crimson, and more dwarf in habit; it is also very late, and therefore ought not to be forced early or severely; one or other ought to figure in all collections. - Grand Arab: Flowers ruby-crimson, campanulate, pencilled heavily with deep black thinly placed on the upper portion of corolla; truss dome-shaped, extra. - Michael Waterer: Flowers large, campanulate, of vermilion-crimson hue; upper petals feathered by mottlings of shining brownish-black; margin of corolla of more faint shade, but very rich; truss large and perfect; one of the foremost of this section. - The Warrior: This is a very dark handsome kind; the flowers are neat, proportionable, of solid glossy cloth; colour maroon-crimson, with the throat thickly speckled with shining black, which spots get more dim towards the base of the flower; truss compact, good build.
Euclid: Flowers medium size, cupped; colour brisk rose-peach, upper petal freckled sparingly with brown; neat truss. - Narcissus: Rosy blush, freckled closely with dark-brown halfway up the petals; a large handsome crown of flowers. - Atrosanguineum: Corolla cam-panulate; deep lobes; substance good; colour rosy crimson; interior mottled halfway up with black; more conspicuous on the upper portion; pretty. - Brayanum: Delicate rose-blush, with short obtuse lobes without a stain; pretty. - Barclayanum: Delicate rose, sparingly mottled with lively brown; corolla divided into six well-rounded segments, campanulate. - Hendersonii: Throat dull white, suffused with purple, margined by a broad band of rose-purple; the upper petal furnished with mottlings of deeper shade of same colour. - Mrs John Waterer: Delicate rose colour, deeply shaded above by violet-purple; dark pencillings strongly defined on centre of superior segment; fine. - Regalie: A grand flower, quite in keeping with the name; colour dark rose, with a few stray mottlings of deep brown on the upper petals; texture leathery and shining, bell-shaped; truss extra large, dome-shape. - General Wilson: Pale crimson, with dark pencil-lings scattered over uppermost part of corolla; both flowers and truss neat and compact. - Iago: Has flowers perfect in form, of extra texture, which last in condition a most incredible time; colour brilliant rose-crimson, with a visible dash of maroon incorporated; the throat strongly marked by dots of brownish-black. - Madame Fitzgerald: A most dazzling rose of deep hue; corolla cup-shaped, marked on the uppermost petals by small brown spots; truss moderately large, dome-shaped.