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 may be prepared just in the same way as a pit for Cucumbers or Melons, with a hollow chamber under it, and two or more pipes running underneath for bottom-heat. Plant out in this bed in good friable soil, consisting of leaf-mould, rotten dung, and sandy loam, with a little sand and peat, and charcoal if obtainable. Water sufficient to settle the soil, which keep a little moist through the growing season. Be careful to dry off and ripen the wood thoroughly before autumn, then keep the plants dry till January, when they will begin to show bloom, and when they may be gradually moistened by giving water in a sufficient quantity to wet all the soil. I have never seen them bloom better than in several cases where they have been planted out at one end of a Cucumber or Melon house, and where they have been subjected to about the same treatment as these plants, with their roots growing in the same bed with them".
In a nice span-roofed house, filled with flowering and foliaged plants, were some capital pots of Lachenalias done much better than is usually seen. As soon as the plants have done blooming, Mr Daniels lays them to rest under the greenhouse stage till the end of the summer, when they commence to grow. They are then shaken from the pots, and eight or nine of the largest bulbs are placed in a 6-inch pot, just covering the surface of the bulbs. The soil used is one compounded of fibry loam, leaf-soil, and silver sand. The plants are then placed in a cold pit till Christmas, and then taken to the house to bloom in February. A generous treatment brings not only an abundant bloom but fine spikes of flower.
A rapid look through the Vineries and Peach-house showed everything in prime condition. The Peaches were the forwardest we have yet seen; Keen's Seedling Strawberries were being largely forced. Mr Daniels sticks by this old kind as the best for his purpose.
The kitchen-garden, though small, had much interest about it. Mr Daniels has a chalk subsoil, and during dry seasons he suffers much from the drought. Apples and Pears are generally grown as bushes - the shoots brought down from the top so as to give a bush form to the trees. The young wood of the previous year gives an abundance of fruit of fine quality. The manner in which these shoots bear fruit has induced Mr Daniels to attempt the cultivation of Apples as cordons, and he has now a row along most of the borders of the kitchen-garden, planted about 18 inches from the path, and trained to a stout galvanised-iron wire about 18 inches in height. Those that had been planted two years were covered with blossom, and had the appearance of a floral bottle-brush. Some of the best kinds of Apples are being cultivated, and Mr Daniels is sanguine as to the success of his experiment.
A wall of Figs, having a south-western aspect, was also noticeable. The wall was 30 yards in length and 8 feet in height; in front of it was a border 6 feet in width, the wall coming out to the pathway at right angles at each end. Over it, resting on the wall at the back, and supported on stout poles at the front of a nearly similar height to the wall, was a glass roof, the border being entirely open on the path side. Six brown Turkey Fig-trees were planted against the wall; the uppermost shoots nearest the roof were brought forward and tied out to two strong wires running lengthwise, 5 and 6 feet in height. At the time root-action begins, a good soaking of water is given, and that suffices to carry the plants through the season, save and except such rain as finds its way to them. From the end of July to the end of October there is a plentiful supply of fruit. The border is also utilised for the production of early Potatoes, Lettuces, and Radishes; and also for cultivating two lines of Cordon Apples, one trained abont 15 inches from the ground, the other a foot higher.
In the front of the mansion we found a pleasant terrace-garden planted with spring blooming and foliaged plants : of the former, Daisies, Pansies, Myosotis, etc, some very pretty effective arrangements being worked out. There was also a border in front of the house, and it struck us that a back row of Dielytra specta-bilis mingled with the old purple Honesty (Lunaria biennis) was a capital and striking arrangement.
From the terrace-garden the pleasure-grounds swept away in a gentle declivity towards the confines of the park, admitting of space for some fine specimen Coni-ferse worthy of notice. The spot occupied by these had a deep substratum of chalk, and was very exposed (about 750 feet above the sea-level), and being open to the rude shocks of the west winds coming sweeping over from the Bristol Channel, and along the valleys of Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Oxfordshire. There was a specimen Wellingtonia gigantea, planted in 1861, about 21 feet 9 inches in height, the circumference of the stem next the ground being 3 feet 9 inches, the girth of the tree, 2 feet from the ground, 30 feet, and pretty well covered with cones. This plant bore the rigour of the previous hard winters without sustaining the slightest harm, but the keen cutting east winds of the past winter had very much browned it. Also, a specimen Pinus insiguis, planted ten years ago, now a well-furnished tree 23 feet in height; a Cedar of Lebanon, planted in 1843 or 4, a very healthy vigorous specimen, 40 feet in height, but lost its leader in 1860; Cedrus Deodara, planted in 1843, now 38 feet in height, a very fine well-furnished tree, with a stem 6 feet 2 inches in circumference ; also a fine Pinus Austriaca and others ; all more or less possessing a close wiry habit of growth, probably owing to the position.
About the fringes of carriage-drives, shrubbery borders, woodland walks, etc, could be seen many pretty spring flowers, half naturalised, and lighting up with a cheerful beauty many an otherwise dreary-looking spot. The double and single forms of Anemone nemorosa, as well as the rose-coloured single variety, the charming Anemone appenina, glowing Oxlips, Scillas, Narcissi, etc, were being used with the best effect.
The house occupies the sunny side of a pleasant valley, and securely nestles in a grand piece of woodland, which serves as a screen from northern and eastern blasts; before it rises up a wood-crowned hill; on the right, at the end of the valley, were the well-known Chiltern Hills, covered with manifold tufts of Juniper-bushes, and presenting an unusual but very picturesque appearance. On the south side, away over the rising-ground, lies at a distance of some 7 miles the charming Oxfordshire town of Henley-on-Thames, a famous summer resort for pent-up and half-stifled Londoners.
It is worthy of record in this relation, that 2 miles below Henley-on-Thames, charmingly situated on the banks of the noble river, stands Greenlands, the residence of Miss Marjoribanks. Mr W. H. Good, the gardener at Greenlands, also cultivates the Bougainvillea speciosa with amazing success, and at the time of our visit a magnificent plant, loaded with its rich garniture of mauve-coloured wreaths, covered a great portion of the interior of the roof of a lean-to plant-house. Mr Good obtained his plant from Swyncombe about 1860, and his success as a cultivator has been coequal with that of Mr Daniels. We are proud of them for their work's sake, and heartily wish them continued success with these splendid plants in the time to come.