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.
I INCLOSE with this the section of the stove, which I promised to send. This will show the shape of the building; the water for the supply of the cascade is couducted to the top of the house by means of a pipe communicating with a pond at a higher level. This pipe Is warmed by passing with a single coil through the boiler, and terminates at the top of the rockwork, where it pours a constant supply of water over three projecting irregular steps of rough stonet each of which catches the falling stream, dividing it into many smaller rills, and increasing the quantity of misty spray. At the bottom the whole of the water is received into the pool which occupies the centre of the floor of the stove, where it widens out into an aquarium ornamented with a little island overgrown like the rock-work with Orchidese, Ferns, and Lycopods.
Interior of Orchideoua Houae at Penllergare.
The disposition of the stones in the rock-work would depend much on the geological strata yon have to work with: in my case they lie flat and evenly bedded, and thus the portions of the rock-work are placed in more regular courses than would be necessary in many other formations. In limestone or granite countries, designs much more ornamental than mine might, I think, be easily contrived.
The account of the splendid vegetation which borders the cataracts of tropical riven, as described by Schomburgk, gave me the first idea of trying this experiment. I read in the "Sertum Orchidaceum" his- graphic description of the falls of the Berbice and Essequibo, on the occasion of his first discovery of Hunteya violacea. I was delighted with the beautiful picture which his words convey, and thought that it might be better represented than is usual in stoves.
With this view I began to work, and added the rock-work which I describe to a house already in use for the cultivation of Orchideous plants. I found no difficulty in re-arranging it for its new design, and after a trial now of about two years can say that it has entirely answered the ends I had in view.
The moist stones were speedily covered with a thick carpet of seedling Ferns, and the creeping stems of tropical Lycopods, among the fronds of which many species of Orchidese delighted to root themselves.
Huntleya violacea was one of the first epiphytes that I planted, and it flowered and throve in its new situation, as I hoped and expected. The East Indian genera, however, of Vanda, Saccolabium, Aerides, and other caulescent sorts, similar in habit and growth, were the most vigorous of all, and many of these in a very short time only required the use of the pruning-knife to prevent their overgrowing smaller and more delicate species.
Plants that are grown in this manner have a wild luxuriance about them that is unknown to the specimens cultivated in the ordinary manner, and to myself they are exceedingly attractive, more resembling what one fancies them in their native forests - true air-plants, depending for their subsistence on the humid atmosphere alone.
Different species thus intermingle together in a beautiful confusion, Dendrobium, and Camarotis, and Renanthera, side by side, with wreaths of flowers and leaves interlacing one another, and sending their long roots to drink from the mist of the fell, or even from the water of the pool below.
Many species are cultivated upon the rocks themselves, others upon blocks of wood, or baskets suspended from the roof, and thus sufficient room is secured for a great number of plants. At the same time the general effect is beautiful, and the constant humidity kept up by the stream of falling water suits the constitution of many species in a degree that might be expected from a consideration of their native habits; and I would strongly recommend the adoption of this or some similar plan to all who have the means of diverting a stream of water from a level higher than the top of their stove.
This, I think, in most situations might be easily contrived. Our house lies on high ground, and the water is brought from a considerable distance, but yet I found very little difficulty or expense in its construction.