This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
MR. GERHARD SCHMITZ, of Philadelphia, for the past twenty-five years has ocoupied a large part of his time in the improvement of his favorite plant, the Dahlia, and has in past years produced some very creditable specimens. They are noticeable particularly for their dwarf habits, yet full blooming qualities, and have the following general characteristics: globular form, short, round, well cupped petals, full to the very centre, and are far superior to any of the European varieties usually imported into this country. The first Dahlia ever known was introduced from Mexico, by Baron Humboldt, in 1789, a flower then of very little value, with only a single row of petals around a large centre or disc, and producing seeds very freely. Since that time florists have improved it so vastly that from twenty to thirty rows of petals can now be counted around on the disc, and there are shades innumerable to satisfy the finest fancy. The last two productions of Mr. Schmitz are the America, with white ground, striped and splashed with crimson, and River, deep scarlet, shaded with crimson and maroon.
Florists now find the Dahlia again becoming one of the most popular of garden flowers, and the above now in the possession of Mr. Dreer, of Philadelphia, are among the latest novelties.
During the two past seasons we have taken a good deal of interest in watching Mr. Richardson's seedling Dahlias, and with no ordinary gratification. His success has been very marked. Among quite a number that would any where be considered good, we have selected four, as being distinct and very beautiful. One, heretofore named Mrs. Richardson, is a beautifully-shaded white, of large size, beautiful form, good substance, cup-petaled, and very constant. Being a very handsome show-flower, Mrs. Richardson will become popular among amateurs, and all others who prize a good thing. Another, now duly christened Emma Cheney', is a Dahlia of remarkable merit, which we esteem not only the best of Mr. Richardson's seedlings, but one of the very finest Dahlias we have ever seen. Emma is of a beautifully round, well-developed form, smooth outline, good substance, pure, bright rosy red, very constant, and in all respects faultless. We shall, by-and-by, present this Dahlia as a frontispiece. Our conviction is, that Emma will take her place as a general favorite.
The other two selected, one of which is a distinct fawn-color, will be named hereafter.
The growing of dahlias from seed is considered usually very precarious, as regards the product of well-formed compact flowers. I have known a grower with twenty-five hundred seedlings obtain but one single flower of excellence; but the result I am now about to relate is of a very different character. In the fall of 1866 Mrs. Oliver Alger, Cleveland, Ohio, selected seed with great care - she being a lover and amateur grower of flowers - from some of the best dahlias in her garden. Early in the spring of '67 these seeds were sown in pots in the hot-bed frame, and about the 1st of June transplanted to the open ground. The result was, that when they came to flower, she had but two imperfect flowers, or, in other words, but two of the plants gave blooms that would not command the eye of a florist as readily as two thirds of the varieties under name and cultivation. The variety of colors was from a dark rich maroon red to a light sulphur yellow, and the drawing I give is not one of the best, nor the poorest, but an average of the perfection and form which the collection embraced.
F. R. E.
Fig. 35. - Seedling Dahlia.