This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", 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 system of propagating this splendid climber by Mr Cully brings to mind a very successful mode of treating this plant as adopted by Mr Speed at Chatsworth. When there (on a visit for a few days) in February last, I was much struck with many things which Mr Speed practised well out of the "old rut." In a Camellia house, where a path leads along the back wall, a narrow bed of Lapageria was growing in strong loam. The shoots were growing as freely almost as a Passiflora; many of these were pegged down or covered with some of the loam, and sending out shoots white and strong as quills. Mr Speed pulled up a handful of these rooted layers with no more concern than as if they were so many weeds. Loam is not generally used for growing Lapageria, but here nothing could be more satisfactory. Loam, " pure and simple," seems to be the favourite soil with Mr Speed for many things which are generally grown in lighter stuff. In this same house Camellias are grown entirely in loam, and right well they thrive in it; probably no finer plants are to be found in Britain. We some time ago read of Camellias being so fine that they would " hide a bullock" in their centres ! I would hardly venture to say that these Chatsworth bushes would hide such large quadrupeds, but I maintain they would give shelter to a small flock of sheep.
The leaves were as large as laurel-leaves, and the plants were loaded with flowers, open and in bud. In a corridor I took note of a Reticulata albapleno with over 1000 blooms coming out; this was a trained plant. The oranges which we saw a few years ago in a sad plight are now fine healthy specimens. Mr Speed's reply to the question of what his secret is in securing such fine plants of the above, was, " Good loam resting on good drainage, cleanliness, and plenty of water." There is a great deal in these few words - watering especially; simple as it may appear to apply it, very few can water satisfactorily. Surface-dribbling kills half the plants which die every season in pots. Among other things very well done in this corridor are, Chorozemas, Brugmansias, Rhyncospermums, and Correas, planted out and trained, densely covering the wall. Passing from this to the large conservatory, which covers an acre of ground, it has greatly improved since last we saw it. It retains all its "jungle" character, but the plants are clean, each standing clear of its fellow, and all in robust health. Many specimens planted out were grand compared with same kinds we have seen growing in pots and tubs, which too often are starved for want of root-room and moisture.
I took note of many of the smaller specimens growing on side shelves; but time is too scarce at present to go further into details in this house. We passed to a block of span-roofed houses used for Orchids, foliage-plants, flowering stove-plants, and a heath-house. The last is one of Mr Speed's "special" houses, to which he told me that he has given more of his personal attention than to any other structure on the place; and much credit the plants it contains do him. The Ericas are a very choice selection, perfect in shape, but not stiff; few stakes are used, and we never saw plants in finer health. Here again cleanliness, fresh air, and judicious watering were important matters. The stoves were very gay, both with flowering and fine foliage plants. Conspicuous were the brightest yellow-leaved Crotons I ever saw. Gesnerias of sorts, Anthuriums, Pandanus, Caladiums, a few kinds, Selaginella denticulata variegata, Maranta Veitchii, Scutellaria, Euphorbia jac-quiniflora, with a number of Orchids in flower, such as Dendrobiums of sorts, Phaius grandiflorus (a specimen of these at each end of a house, we counted thirty-two blooms on one and thirty on the other; the spikes were very large). The plants were all of a useful size, standing singly, carefully arranged for effect, which was indeed very fine.
Ferns were numerous and well grown. In the Orchid divisions, where the cream of the collection was staged, the Vandas are something wonderful, averaging about 7 feet high. There is a whole row of them along the centre in luxuriant health. One of the largest nursery growers of Orchids lately pronounced these to be the finest specimens in Europe; certainly by far the best I ever saw. Lycastes were among the finer specimens. One of Skinnerii had six spikes: the plant was growing in a 24-sized pot. Calanthes were numerous. Great numbers of Calanthe veratrifolia were potted in Mr Speed's favourite loam, and well they were thriving. "We never saw Dendro-biuni nobile in finer bloom than they were in this house. The plants are kept very dwarf with a free use of the knife. Returning from these splendidly-managed houses, we cast glances over many other important features as we passed on to the kitchen-garden, where there are also numerous plant-houses. Among the most interesting is the Amherstia-house, where a large healthy specimen fills the whole centre; and many fine blooms were out at the time of my visit. Under the tree was a neat carpet of foliage plants, arranged with the same taste which characterised all the other plant structures.
Pitcher-plants are among Mr Speed's specialities, and may be classed with the "lions" of the gardens. The fruit-houses are all in excellent order: most of the vineries (sixteen in all) have been replanted since Mr Speed went to Chats worth. His name is so favourably known as a fruit-grower, one need hardly say that every Vine and Peach-tree is in fine order, and many of them growing under difficult circumstances, from the overflow of the Derwent river. Pines, Strawberry-forcing, all kinds of forced vegetables, are very extensive. The kitchen-garden, which is over 12 acres in extent, has been much improved of late years. The extensive grounds are also receiving due attention. Chatsworth gardens are managed by eighty-five men under Mr Speed. M. Temple.