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.
Some five and twenty years ago, when looking over Rosedale Nursery, the late Mr. Robert Buist thus addressed the writer: "Did you ever see this plant, Brownea grandiceps, in bloom? And there is another one, about as seldom seen in that condition as any I know of," pointing to a Bugin-villea spectabilis. To my affirmative reply, he tersely and emphatically remarked: " Then, indeed, you have seen two remarkable sights, very rare and very grand." And, continuing, admitted: " I have never seen either of them in a flowering state, except here, and when under the care of Mr. John Pollock, at Mr. Dundas', of Philadelphia".
"Once upon a time," when a much younger man than now, when attending to some matters of business, I found myself in the presence of that successful and eminent man, the late Mr. Knight, of the celebrated King's Road Nursery, Chelsea, London. And as the venerable and intelligent proprietor conducted me through the extensive range of plant houses, all the while pouring into my ears a flood of varied information, he abruptly paused before two good specimens of the above named plants, which surprised and delighted me with their novelty and beauty. While thus standing, wonder-struck with admiration, Mr. Knight pleasantly observed: " Young man, before you is a sight ever to be remembered".
In years after this casual incident, when Mr. Knight had gone the way of all flesh, and thousands of miles of the billowy deep rolled between the quick and the dead, I again met with the above named plants at Mauritius, profusely blooming. On that beautiful isle in the Indian Ocean, made memorable by the facile pen of Bernadine de St.; Pierre, which absolutely seemed to revel in floral magnificence, while tropical tides gently lave the palm-shaded shore, and where "old Sol" from cloudless skies beams bright and warm over land and sea, was of all other places, probably, the most delightful spot in the universe, in which I should meet them again.
Having meandered along flowery paths and paradisical avenues around Port Louis, up to the Hotel, Paul et Virginie, I sat down for awhile in an adjacent arbor, which was occupied with a good-looking, sunburnt gentleman, who, from appearances, I took to be some fortunate islander who had drawn a high prize in the lottery of life. The unobtrusive stranger sat watching with evident delight the droll antics and gambols of a tame lemur. And the gentle little creature seemed to enjoy the kind attention of the noble and gentle man, with whom it seemed to be on familiar terms. With thoughts deeply absorbed with the lavish charms of nature, which everywhere seemed Edenic, I noticed such a blending of beauty overhanging the lattice above, as is seldom seen elsewhere. For a moment, forgetting the bon homme by my side, and "thinking aloud," as a long festoon of lovely orange-colored leguminous flowers touched my face, ejaculated: "Jonesia scandens, I declare!" The sudden exclamation seemed to immediately evoke from the diffident though observant gentleman, the ready rejoinder, while pointing upwards: "Yes; and Brownea grandi-ceps, B. racemosa, Tacsonia pedunculata, and the no less glorious Buginvillea spectabilis, and Euphorbia splendens.
Neither do the other beauties, Passiflora quadrangularis, P. picturata, Stephonotis floribunda, Bignonia venusta, B. crucigera, and Rajania quinquifolia, lose any of their magnificence from the close proximity of such brilliant company." Naturally surprised, as well I might be, with the unexpected remarks just made by one whose knowledge I wondered at, and while he lapsed jnto silence again, fancied the words of Mr. Knight, whom I listened to years ago, were still audible, and seemed to say: "Young man, before you is a sight ever to be remembered." To see the rare and lovely Jonesia scandens (a plant so seldom seen), seemed to awaken happy memories of other lands; especially where princely Chatsworth quietly nestles among the green hills and dales of Derbyshire, where it was grown in all its glory by the world-renowned Sir Joseph Paxson. Reminiscences of Regent's Park Botanic Garden, London, and the skilful curator, Mr. Marnock, seemed to come up again, at the sight of the beautiful climbers, like fleeting visions from the realms of the shadowy past.
The supposed foreigner, who sat with his back leaning against the tall shaft of a handsome palm, Latania borbonica, which formed the living centre-pole of the vine-covered arbor, proved to be no other than the noted Mr. Duncan, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Pamplemouses. These interesting grounds contain the oldest botanic garden in the tropics. Presuming it is needless to relate how readily the talismanic influence of philo flora made us acquainted with each other, and, to avoid reiteration of the pleasant time I spent with that genial gentleman, I must refer the reader to the August number of the Monthly of 1875.
True, the only plants here referred to are all of climbing habits, with one exception. Yet, how much I regret the absence of them, and others of the like or kindred nature, in the hothouses of today. Somehow, there seems to be a void in the ranks of rare floral beauty once so conspicuous with the elite and regal representatives of " Flora," from all parts of her extensive domains. It is sad indeed to mark the decadence of taste and admiration for so many fair flowers, whose possession used to be the pride and delight of the wealthy and cultured people of this and other lands. And when we think of them being crowded out with the cheap and common stuff, which usurp their proper places, makes the case more grievous still. Admitting that most plants and flowers are pretty and interesting, there are, nevertheless, well marked grades of ligneous and herbaceous beauty in the vegetable kingdom, from which we may happily choose the fairest of the fair to satisfy our yearnings and admiration for the beautiful. Of the lovely, though often fantastically formed Orchidea, there are a few tolerably good collections about, while the exquisite loveliness of Cape Ericas, and other such like choice things, are seldom seen.
The generality of Australian plants, whose habits are as remarkable as they are beautiful, and withal are easily managed, would prove as satisfactory to the grower, as the editor often remarks, when recommending good and pretty things to his readers. Such a galaxy of floral loveliness would compel the most saturnine looker-on to pause and think of his Creator, and thus make the cold-blooded cynic to marvel at His wonderful ways. And the appreciative connoisseur, the sage, and aesthetic admirer, will highly enjoy the serene happiness which naturally springs from the sight of beautiful flowers. When confronted with a bevy of such brilliant examples of plant life, where leaf and flower grandeur magnificently mingle in the glorious habiliments with which nature has adorned them, the graphic language of my old friend, the late Mr. Knight, slightly paraphrased, will naturally find expression in similar words: "Good gracious! before me is ' a sight ever to be remembered.'"
Mount Holly, N. J., May 1, 1884. [It is curious how we accidentally meet sympathetic friends in the most unexpected places sometimes. Many miles from home, on one occasion, we saw a gentleman whose mind was evidently gone a wool gathering, sketching, mechanically, a Fuchsia on a piece of paper at the same time. The writer remarked, "not six stamens, but eight." It led to the discovery that the stranger was an eminent gentleman of whom we had often heard but never seen. - Ed. G. M].