This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
At one time the florist and the botanist, if not avowed enemies, regarded each other with suspicion. The Botanist, at any rate, complained of the love of the Florist for monstrosities, and for the hybrids and crosses which threatened in his estimation to drive systematic botany into dire confusion. Now they welcome each other into their respective fields, and find pleasure and profit in each others company.
In such cases as we now illustrate, which is a florist's selection, the mere lover of studies in plant life can also find interest. Usually variegation seems to follow the same law which attends the production of colored bracts or petals, in which we see a considerable weakening of vital power before the colored leaflet is produced, and in variegated plants generally we find precisely the same loss of vital power which accompanies the production of the external parts of the inflorescence. In this particular case the variegation is said not to be accompanied by this vital check, and it so the reason therefor is well worthy of scientific investigation. The plant has been introduced to the notice of cultivators by the enterprize of the well known firm of Wm. Bull, of Chelsea, near London; but the London Journal of Horticulture gives the following account of it:
Lavatera arborea variegata.
"Very rarely indeed does it fall to our lot to figure for the first time, and introduce to our readers, a new border plant so striking in appearance as the variegated Tree Mallow which we now submit. When Mr. Smith first sent us leaves of his new acquisition, we were almost startled by their markings; and on subsequently receiving flowering sprays of the plant, we were still more convinced of its distinctness and beauty. The irregular mixture of very dark green, pale greenish grey, and pure white, impart to the plant a remarkable appearance. The plant appears to us to occupy a position amongst border plants similar to that of the Variegated Maple in shrubberies. We may add, that although the variegation is so pronounced, and the white so pure, there is not the slightest indication of weakness in the sprays, but, on the contrary, they are as strong and vigorous as green specimens".
"Mr. Smith, from whom the entire stock has been purchased, writes: ' I have propagated many plants, and I have not yet seen one but what is beautifully variegated. I have proved that it comes true from seed, but it must be understood that it is something like the Variegated Maize, does not show variegation in a young state. There is not the least doubt but it will be a most effective plant for large beds and borders. Last winter it stood out without injury; it is best, however, to pot some up, and keep them in a cool house, and turn them out in the spring; but a slight protection outside would be sufficent to keep the plants undisturbed in beds or borders, which is desirable, for in spring of the second year the beauty of such plants is beyond description".
It ought to prove a valuable plant for American summer gardening.