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.
Of the whole class of New Holland plants, few are more interesting than Acacias. The strange variety in the phyllodes or leaves, the profusion and fragrance of their blossoms, and the season of the year when they are in the greatest perfection, render them eminently worthy of cultivation. My object, therefore, in the following remarks is to bring, if possible, this interesting tribe of plants more into notice than ever it yet has been; and with that view, I have sketched or drawn out the more prominent characters of a collection of twenty-five, well adapted for the conservatory border, shelves, or the greenhouse stage; but before I commence my enumeration, permit me to offer a few words common to the generality of those I intend bringing under notice: - First, I have to state that the whole of these Acacias are natives of various parts of New Holland; therefore enjoying a brisk growing climate through the spring months, and a dry atmosphere during summer. And thus we are furnished with two leading points whereon to base the successful cultivation of this genus; these are, to maintain such a condition of climate as will insure a quick growth, and when once that is obtained, nothing is better for ripening it than an exposure to bright sunlight, with a free circulation of air at all times.
Second, Acacias generally seed well; and thus propagation is rendered easy, as the seeds germinate freely, either when sown as soon as they are ripe, or kept back until the ensuing spring. In the latter case, they must be soaked in hot water. I have, however, seen seeds which have fallen from cyano-phylla and other species spring up as plentifully as Sycamore. Another mode of propagation is by means of cuttings placed in sharp sand, and the pots placed on a warm greenhouse shelf for a month or six weeks, and then introduced into a growing temperature of about 70°, taking care to have the cuttings covered with bell-glasses, until roots have been freely emitted; afterwards, pot off siugly, and place them again in the same situation, until they have got well established, when nothing more is needed than ordinary attention. The soil most suitable for the Acacia is three-quarters good turfy loam, with the remainder made up of peat and sharp sand. Another point, which I think is not generally known, is that the generality of them, although very gummy, stand the knife well, without appearing to suffer from its effects; at least, with some species, its application is absolutely necessary, in order to form good specimens, and keep them within bounds.
This is a valuable species, not only on account of the late period at which it flowers, but likewise on account of its large bright yellow flowers, which are produced in profusion, in globular heads, situated on a peduncle one inch in length. This kind is best adapted for pota.
In this the stem and phyllodes are all flattened, and every secondary branch is connected with the midrib of the primary one. The phyllodes are so connected as to assume the form of one long narrow phyllode, thickly beset with hairs, and furnished with short spines at intervals on each side. The flowers are all attached in pairs to the midrib of the primary phyllode, and diverging alternately right and left on each side, to the number of about 30, on a phyllode of about four inches long. Peduncle about three-tenths of an inch in length; flower heads globular, pale yellow. This forms a straggling bush, requiring to be upheld with stakes. It is most suitable for conservatory borders.
This is a delicate but pretty species, and well worth cultivating. Phyllodes triangular, sharp spined, much resembling an Apacris, l-5th inch long. Peduncles about the same length, bearing two very small white flowers. This plant must be kept in a pot, and clear of other plants, and it will require stopping to make it bushy, otherwise it will soon become weak and straggling.
Acacia Cochlearis is neat and compact, and well adapted for large pots and the margins of conservatory borders. Height, six feet. Phyllodes two inches long, linear, pointed, but not stiff, rather hoary. Flower heads globular, small, produced in pairs, from the axis of the phyllodes. Peduncles two-fifths of an inch long. This is a plant of rather slow growth, and it requires no pruning.
Acacia Celastrifolia will flower well, even in small pots, but in 18-inch ones it forms a huge bush, loaded so completely with flowers as hardly to render either phyllodes or pot perceptible. Phyllodes about three inches long, and 1 ¼ inch wide; branches forming, as it were, a very long panicle, from thirty inches to three feet long; flowers whitish, sweet scented. This species is very subject to scale, the best way of clearing which off is to cut it well in after flowering, and not to be sparing of soft soap and water; or, best of all, use Dominy's mixture.
This forms a splendid object for the center of a lofty conservatory, growing as it does to a great height, and producing large loose panicles of exquisitely bright yellow flowers, which are large and highly scented. Phyllodes ten inches long, and 1 ¼ inch or 1 ½ inch in diameter, very wavy, unequal sided. This plant, like celastrifolia, requires a periodical cleaning; it also stands pruning well, and it is much improved by it No one in possession of a large conservatory should be without this desirable species.
Acacia Cygnorum has rather a pendulous habit, its branches being very slender and almost covered with small pinnated leaves, which are composed of three pairs of leaflets, and it is also studded with sharp spines; leaflets l-6th inch long. Flowers much like rotundifolia, but smaller. This is certainly an excellent Acacia where variety is wanted, and it is admirably adapted for pots.