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 season in Massachusetts has been so propitious that the freshness and verdure of June crowns these last days of August right royally. Frequent rains and absence of scorching suns, has developed a luxuriance of leafage altogether marvelous. Each individual plant is elbowing his neighbor, and making frantic efforts to crowd him out of bed. Like the fellows in the walking matches, each one seems possessed of the insane determination of "beating his record." And they are succeeding, too, to the unbounded delight of the spectators.
I am greatly pleased with three of the newer roses - introduced in 1881 - and not yet common, viz.: Glory of Cheshunt, Ulrich Brunnerand Pride of Waltham. They are all healthy and vigorous growers and prolific flowerers. Set out in May, '83, from three-inch pots, tiny plants not over four or five inches in height, they had grown in this one year to fine stocky bushes of two feet, or more. And such roses! Ulrich Brunner bore off the palm for size and richness of coloring, being a splendid shade of cherry red. The flowers were five inches, or more, on an average, and of that fine cupped form, with deep petals, that never falls apart under any provocation, until it falls entirely off. Pride of Waltham is of the Eugenie Verdier type, but far superior, I think. It is of perfect circular form, the outer row or two of petals reflexed, the remainder turning toward the centre in globular form. It is very full, with large petals, and shades from the most exquisite salmon-pink in the centre, to the faintest apple-blossom flush of dainty flesh on its outer petals. Alas! that it should not be fragrant, no more than the rest of that family.
It has at this writing (August 26) several of its large, exquisite flowers open, as perfect as those given in June. Glory of Cheshunt is a velvety-red rose, smaller in size, very double and very fragrant. They have all flowered well, in August, which is, perhaps, after all, their greatest recommendation, so many so-called perpetuals being simply annuals. I find Monseiur E. Y. Teas one of the best, also, both as a remontant and a magnificent sort at any time, though only a moderate grower. Another of the new sorts, Heinrich Schul-theis, a very beautiful pale-pink rose, is also said to be a fine autumn flowerer. I set out, the middle of May, a wee plant of this sort, from a two-inch pot. As it is now in bud, I conclude the truth was told about it. Alas! alas! that it is not always, as many a poor deluded amateur knows to his sorrow.
And speaking of disappointments reminds me of one big humbug that I feel it my solemn duty to furnish with a "character." I refer to that wretched fraud, Gynura aurantiaca. "An elegant bedding plant." "A formidable rival for the Coleus." " The beautiful purple plush plant," etc., etc. Now, the honest facts are, that it is a coarse-looking weed with dingy bluish-green leaves of unattractive form, and having no foundation for all these panegyrics save a few purple hairs on the underside of the young leaves before they unfold, and at the petioles of the younger leaves. Why, as for beauty of foliage, it doesn't "hold a candle" to our common mullen's soft green silkiness. I fancy it would "astonish the natives" who see it on its native heaths - wherever that may be - to know that a country which has so many beautiful indigenous plants as America, should pay fifty cents (the price it was sent out in '83) for a small bit of this coarse weed to ornament their gardens. Thinking how they would chuckle over it, if they only knew, has been the only pleasure I have had from my investment.
G. A. itself, now lies with some other buried hopes, in the compost heap.
Impatiens Sultana is a plant upon which I have had two very decided opinions within as many months. I had, during the early part of the season, my tomahawk all whetted and ready for its scalp. Now, said tomahawk is wrapped in several thicknesses of apologies and laid away. Impatiens Sultana has earned a right to live. I had my plant through the mail about the twentieth of May. It was perhaps five inches high, and from a two-inch pot. It grew rapidly from the first, but the sun scorched its leaves, its few flowers were hidden under the foliage, and it made no show at all. This up to about the middle of July, since when it has grown in beauty most marvellously. It is, at this date, about two feet high and considerably more than that in diameter, with a dozen large branches from the bottom an inch and a half in diameter, with scores of side branches from each, and every shoot crowned with its bright carmine blossoms. 1 think there are at least one hundred flowers on it all the time, often twice that. But the illustrations of this plant are deceptive in that they represent the flowers thrown well above the foliage, which they are not. Like the annual members of this family (Balsams) the leafage is dense, and has to be nipped out judiciously to show the flowers to advantage.
It is, however, a very bright clean-looking plant, and the color of the flowers is exquisite.
I have growing side by side the two (?) large-flowered Cannas, Iridifolia and Ehrmanii. I have looked at them in every possible light, and neither in foliage or flower am I able to see the faintest shade of difference. What puzzles me is to understand why, after Iridifolia had been in the market half a dozen years, (at least) selling at fifty cents each, that all at once it should disappear from the catalogues, and in its placecome Ehrmanii at $1.50 each! Odd, wasn't it? And yet the ordinary cultivator could be equally "happy with either, were t'other dear charmer away".
One of the things about which there is not the faintest suspicion of humbug is the Cactus Dahlia - D. Juarezii. It blooms early and continuously, and the flowers are truly splendid.
I have been experimenting this Summer with seedling Gloxinias. From one paper of seed, sown early in March, I got over one hundred plants. Not having space for all, I selected seventy-five of the strongest, and have had blooms from some twenty sorts, to date, and no two alike, and not one poor one. The flowers have varied in being from two and a half to three inches in diameter. As they have never had anything but ordinary room culture, I consider my experiment a marked success. There are many more in bud - they have averaged about four blooms a piece - and the variety in the foliage, which is in itself a constant gratification, it is so beautiful, gives promise of many more varieties. Another Summer I shall look for fine resul s from these young, healthy bulbs. My thanks are due to a writer in the Monthly for the suggestion, as I had not thought they were so easily grown. I do not find them nearly as difficult as the Chinese Primrose, either in starting or carrying through the Summer. The latter are the most exasperating little things.
They want water, and they don't want it, the sun scorches them, and the shade makes them spind-j ling; the dirt in which they will condescend to put out their dainty roots must be "made to order," and musn't interfere with their leaves, or off they go on a tangent. But when the dark days come, and the "winter of your discontent" is upon you, they grow ' suddenly repentant, and hold up their dainty clus-ters of bloom for peace offerings, and you forgive them joyfully, and love them all the better for the anxiety they have given you; so true is it that the difficult is the dearest. Melrose, Mass.