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.
This is one of those places in which certain kinds of plants are grown by the thousand for Covent Garden market. It is, therefore, not uncommon to see here a large houseful of Pelargoniums all in full flower at one time, another of Heliotropes, and frames some hundreds of yards long stocked with Mignonette. Potfuls of the latter sown in September last, and wintered in low, cold frames, will soon be in blossom. Mignonette, we need scarcely state, is sometimes sown in small pots, with the view of economizing room; but, where space is no object, it gives less trouble, and succeeds equally well sown at once in the pots in which it is to flower. It may be wintered in a shallow frame, as has been done here, from which the lights should be removed entirely in fine weather, so at to give as much light and air as possible. Many complain that they lose their Mignonette in winter; but this is, for the most part, owing to their keeping it too damp. It should have little or no water for about three months during the dull season, and care should be taken to keep it free from drip, which is sure to kill whatever plants it happens to fall on.
When small pots are employed, particular care need not be taken to have the soil very rich, provided it is light; but, when sown at once in the flowering pots, richer material should be used, draining well, and placing on the top of the crocks flaky pieces of decayed manure, for the double purpose of affording nourishment to the plants when they are coming into bloom, and for keeping the soil from choking up the drainage. Autumn sown plants, which were shifted into larger pots about Christmas, will blossom from the present time till about May, and another sowing now will succeed them, after which it may be had plentifully in the open ground. Even the worst potfuls should not, however, be thrown away, for, if topped back about this time, they come in nicely for window-boxes in May, which may be managed in the following manner: Having some Tom Thumb Geraniums (any other drawf, showy plants, as Intermediate Stocks, would do), three of these are placed in a box, one near each end, and one in the middle, and between them are introduced carefully, so as not to break the balls, pots of Mignonette, filling the boxes up with rich, light soil, and finishing with a good watering to settle the earth round the roots.
The after-treatment consists in keeping the boxes watered always when they require it, and, be it remembered, that if Mignonette is ever allowed to flag, it seldom succeeds so well afterwards. Boxes thus arranged are greatly admired during the summer months, the Geraniums giving brilliancy of color, while the Mignonette furnishes all that is wanted in the way of scent. In addition to the above, all kinds, of spring bulbs are grown extensively here, and are at present very gay. Hyacinths potted, and wintered out of doors under ashes, are now moved into heat in succession as they are wanted, and soon burst into bloom. Azaleas and other shrubs are also forced into flower for bouquets, for which, at this season, there is always a good demand. Below the stages of different houses in which no more fire-heat is used than just what will keep out frost, are large beds of most excellent Rhubarb, from which the market supply for weeks has been derived. This has been obtained from roots which were moved under glass soon after Christmas, placed closely together, and covered with soil.
The sort is the Victoria, which, although, perhaps, not so red as Salt's Perfection, and some other kinds, is a vigorous grower, and deservedly a general favorite.