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.
Just as I received the last month's Horticulturist, Mr. Editor, I was about sending you a "secret" or two, concerning that most lovely - not new, but old Bignonia. Not for any particular benefit to be derived from such information by the "gardeners," but for that class of men known as the "Brooklyns," who, when they go into a confectioner's shop and buy a plum cake, come out rather "miffed" if they can not get the secret of its compounds given to "boot" with the pittance paid for their cake. Well, sir, I thought the remarks of your correspondent very-unjust, when he lays the whole of his grievances flatly on the shoulders of that most honorable body to which your most humble servant is proud to belong; for we think that of all men, and of all trades or professions, there are none in existence, more cheerful and willing to give to the world all they know, and without reserve, than that class of men called gardeners. There is no paper, magazine, or periodical of any description, published either in America or Europe, that gets half the support of practical experience that is subscribed to Horticulture. We believe that gardeners are the most social of all the men in the world, and that there is nothing that they have just discovered that they are not eager to divulge.
It is true, that some of our amateur friends, who ask a question or two, and are delicate in asking about some simple little things as details, which they think they can get along without, spoil the whole in consequence. A female acquaintance of ours, who is considered very famous for making English plum pudding, was asked one day at the dinner-table, by another lady friend, "how she made the 'pudding' to look and taste so very delicious? " Why, she replied, by putting together so much of such ingredients as she then named. Her friend seemed much pleased with the idea of getting at the secret of this pudding making, and said that when at home to-morrow, she would make one like it. She did make it, and brought part of it to be tasted by our lady friend who gave her the receipt.
But, good gracious! what do you think, sir? In the place of using milk to mix it up with, as she was directed - to make it look brown, as she thought, she used common black molasses, and consequently it was nearly the color of the pot in which it was boiled, and smelt - oh ! like an old rum keg. "You don't like my pudding, do you 1 I made it just as you told me, only I used molasses, because 1 thought it would answer the purpose of milk and sugar." That lady went home quite in a "miff," Mr. Editor, and told all her neighbors that Mrs. A. had some "craft mysteries " about the pudding making, and that if she had only told her the consequences of the use of the black molasses in the place of milk and sugar, a great many more puddings would be eaten than there are now, and that, consequently, much more flour and fruit, as well as suet and milk would be sold by the trade. Indeed, Mrs. A. was much behind the age, and in need of enlightenment.
"Brooklyn," wherever you are, whether in America or Europe, unite your questions to the Editors of Horticultural papers; and let them be as simple as they possibly can be; some of the readers of such journals will be benefited by it, through the answers given in reply. The cost by this means is only about three cents, and then the "Brooklyns" will at all times be independent of those men who pertain to "craft mysteries," and at the same time yield a valuable support to our Horticultural literature.
Now, Mr. Editor, I had almost forgotten to tell you about that Bignonia; but what I am going to say, you need not tell those "Brooklyns," unless they offer some apology for the nice character they have given the gardeners as a whole body.
If this suggestion is complied with, which we think the justice of the case demands, you are at liberty to hand over a little more of the "craft mysteries." It would be useless, Mr. Editor, for me to ask you if you knew such a plant as Bignonia venusta; but there is one thing about it, perhaps, that you don't know, and which I will tell you just now. Sometimes this beautiful creeper, when growing in the border or a large tub in the conservatory, will flower very profusely, and sometimes scarcely at all. We have seen immense plants spreading nearly over the whole of the glass roof of the house in which it was growing, with but a few of its handsome panicles to charm the hearts of those who delight in the beauties of flowers. Ah, sir, much depends on how things are grown to be able to properly appreciate their true value; and we are often very liable to throw old things overboard, not because they are not good, but because they are old. It was only the other day that a "crack" plant grower walked into a house we know of, and as soon as he entered the door he stood bewildered, when at last he stammered out, "Good heaven ! what is that over there!" and away he rushed to it like a madman.
We thought he was going to devour the plant, or run off home with it; but as soon as he got right at the plant, "Pshaw!" said he, "old Linum tigrinum !" It was an oldish plant taken up in the fall and potted, about 3 feet in diameter, and as full of its beautiful little yellow trumpets as it could hold; so our friend was taken in for once. Very beautiful, till he found out what it was. To flower this variety of the Bignonia in a pot is what we wish to tell you, which is not commonly done, or not done at all this way, except by the individual who is now going to give a little more of "craft mysteries." Modus operandi. Put a young plant early in the spring into a good sized pot, rich compost, such as would grow a good grape vine. In May, put it outside; if the plant has two or three shoots, cut them back to 3 or 4 inches. This will be the means of producing more shoots. Train in straight lines along some fence or trellis, and enable the plant to grow as rapidly as possible by giving plenty of water. Plunge the pot in the ground up to the rim, but put a slate at the bottom to prevent the roots getting into the ground. Tie, and train the creeper as it grows.
In the fall, when the time comes that all such plants should go into the house, up with this one; put some stakes into the pot, and twist the shoots around the sticks, tying them on carefully. This ends the work. Such plants in pots will flower most beautifully. The next season, cut back the previous summer's growth to within one eye or bud of where it started from, and perform the operations of the first season, as described. In this way the Bignonia venusta will flower in pots as freely as Pelargoniums. The ends of the young shoots should never be nipped or cut back, as the largest panicles of flowers are produced there. The plants grown or planted out in the borders in glass structures, should have their annual wood pruned back as soon as the plants are out of flower, just in the same way as gardeners spur prune grape vines. Cut off all the young growth every year as soon as flowering is over; and if the sash can be taken off the house where such plants are growing, so much the better. It propagates freely by layers, and will strike from cuttings of very young wood in a brisk bottom heat, covered with a bell glass. The plants when growing in pots will take strong doses of liquid manure, which will enhance and strengthen their growth.
Now, Mr. Editor, we have already trespassed too much on your valuable space, so We won't tell any more.
[We will finish that last sentence for you by adding the words, "this time," and then it will be just like you; for of course you will tell us more; but we will not tell "Brooklyn" a word of it, unless he puts in a "bill of exceptions." and vindicates the honor of a profession of which you are one of the brightest ornaments. We will just tell you, sub rosa, that we shan't believe a word about that plum pudding till your lady friend sends us a piece of it. Our amateur readers, and a good many others, will thank Fox Meadow for telling them how to bloom the beautiful Bignonia venusta in pots. It is sometimes an intractable plant, even in the hands of good growers; but this simple method of growing it in pots ought to make its cultivation much more general, as it will certainly make it much easier. Fox Meadow's "secrets" are always worth knowing. - Ed].