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.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society have had no monthly meetings for some years, but made an essay in the first week of April to try one, to see what support a resumption might receive from horticulturists. Only two amateurs, we believe, responded, but quite a number of florists sent good contributions. No premiums were offered. The result of the experiment seemed to be that, if the amateur and commercial gardeners would take hold of the matter judiciously, the monthly meetings might be successful, if not, indeed, more than excel their old-time renown.
Among the amateur collections, Mr. A. J. Drexel sent a collection of varieties of Coleus. It was evident from the great variety and beauty of many of these kinds, that those who only see the Coleus in beds in the summer time, have no idea of what a charm there is in them when pot-grown. Only a few are well calculated to come out well in the open sun, or to match well with other plants in mosaic bedding, and, indeed, it is common to hear the remark that the old Verschafeltii is yet as good as any. But good as any it certainly is not, when such a collection as this of Mr. Drexel is brought together. It is difficult to conceive of anything that will give more pleasure in the way of leaf plants.
The other gentleman, Mr. Wistar Morris, had a very neat collection of flowering plants. There were not many large plants among them, but the variety was very choice. The curious Bougain-villea, in which the large pink bracts do duty for flowers, attracted quite a large circle of admirers. In this collection we noted some seedling petunias, very double, of parti-colors, and fringed on the edges of the petals. It may be that we have overlooked these points before, but they struck us as forming a novel, and certainly a very pretty feature in the usually rather coarse but showy petunia. Mr. Vallandigham, the gardener to Mr. Morris deserves praise for his pretty collection of flowering plants. Mr. Dreer also had some pretty coleus, but the most attractive plant in his collection was a plant of the balsam or lady slipper family, called Impatiens Sultani. Those familiar only with the lady slipper of the flower garden, would hardly recognize this rather shrubby though succulent perennial greenhouse plant.
The scarlet flowers look rather like pansies than the ordinary balsam.
Greenhouse azaleas were in great numbers, and very good, though nothing remarkable in novel varieties or novel culture, specially attracted attention. Among the azaleas of Fergusson & Sons, were some forced rhododendrons, at the beauty of which the azaleas were evidently quite jealous. One of these, named Comte de Rohan, was not familiar, and whoever once sees it will not forget it. It was blush-white, fringed on the edges, with the upper petal centered by a pretty crimson feather.
Robert Scott made a fine exhibit of Lilium Har-risii, in six-inch pots. The plants were about two feet high, and had a crown of about six flowers on each stem.
The cut flowers were not numerous, as at this Easter time, when the whole fortune of a florist for the year often depends on the fabulous prices he can get to cover the other fifty-one weeks of loss, few could be expected on a free exhibition; but Kift & Sons had a few to show off a dinner-table fountain, made to eject water by electric power, the waste water being used over and over again. It is an extremely interesting novelty.
The chief interest centered in the roses. There were quite a number in pots from J. H. Campbell, plants in five or six-inch pots, about two to three feet high, and with six to twelve flowers on each plant. They were what would be called very well grown market plants. Cut blossoms of the new Southern Belle were exhibited by J. N. May, of Summit, New Jersey, and we think may, without extravagance, be styled superb. Only for their delicate pink shade, they might be compared in size and form to moderate-sized lemons. Then there was W. H. Hanson, with his magnificent collection of cut roses. There were about half a dozen flowers of each kind in one hyacinth glass, and about half a dozen glasses of each kind. Then there were about a dozen kinds altogether, so that the whole made a grand exhibit. Among them all, Niphetos seemed still to hold the sceptre. Have you seen Hanson's Niphetos? was the general query. The buds were about three inches long, and every petal as regular as if carved. Another old veteran in grand condition was Bon Si-lene, and with such large and highly colored flowers as these were, it is doubtful whether anything more than novelty can be offered by competing varieties.
For those who delight in broad, cuplike flowers, there were in this collection fine Catharine Mermets. They were about four inches across, yet still double and perfect.
Craig & Bro. had magnificent blooms of Bon Silene also, as well as Baroness Rothschild, and if those who ask: What has become of the Duke of Connaught? could have seen the large, highly colored flowers here presented, they would soon be ready to ask, What has become of General Jacqueminot?