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.
The impression seems to be gaining ground that the growers of Verbenas do not sufficiently realize the importance of selecting the best varieties only in making up their stock, and that dealers do not act wisely in letting out seedlings which are inferior to older sorts. Not that every thing new ought to be discarded which does not come near to the standard of excellence, but such of those as are retained should be possessed of some property in a more eminent degree than is to be found in any of those which are superior in every other respect. And if such a plea can not be urged in their behalf it would be better to let them remain in obscurity than to have them named and paraded in catalogues, and. introduced into gardens, as disappointment, and, it may be, " want of confidence" in the parties who so act would be likely to follow. Were all concerned a little more careful in such matters, no one can doubt that more rapid advances would be made than has hitherto been done, and infinitely less of disappointment experienced by those who put their trust- in every thing new that comes well recommended.
In bringing about such a state of things as the friends of Floriculture would wish, it is necessary that the properties of flowers be well understood, and that each and every one act upon the rule not to recommend any seedling unless it is as good, and as distinct from, all the other sorts with which he may be acquainted.
And here it may be as well to dispose of an objection that has sometimes been urged against any important reforms being carried out in Floriculture. It has been set forth, as an excuse, that the public do not give sufficient encouragement to make any greater pains-taking prudent, as the experiment might not pay. It may be true that a considerable portion of what is called the public manifest the greatest indifference as to whether flowers are improved by care and cultivation, or not. So they may be with other things that do not directly administer to their own selfish interests; with sculpture, painting, poetry, and, in short, with every thing that exalts and ennobles man. But there is another portion of the great public, and perhaps by far the greatest, of whom this can not be said; and it is with those that florists have the most to do. They are gifted with a warm love for all that is beautiful in nature and in art. They may not be all rich and great, yet still they are illustrious, wearing, as they do, the badges of nature's true nobility.
As a natural and necessary consequence, they love flowers, and many cherish them as an "exceeding great reward." It is to them the florist must look for encouragement and support, and in their behalf - "I will say it" - he will not look in vain, while laboring for their gratification in the production of new and still more beautiful forms than any they may have yet seen. He who does not strive to be the leader of this class must stoop to the ignoble condition of being led by them - an alternative no one will choose, but such as are destitute of all those qualities which alone can make him great and respected in his profession, and entitle him to the high honor of being a "fellow-worker with the Creator".
Regarding the properties of the Verbena, these, we think, have by no one been better stated than by Glenny, founded as his undoubtedly are on principle, and which, if combined in all their round fullness in one individual, would make that individual an object of the greatest attraction. While frankly making this admission, we at the same think an addition might be made which would render them all the more perfect as a standard by which to measure the various candidates for public favor. At the time they were published, flowers with distinct colored eyes were not common, if in existence at all, and for this reason such a feature must have either been overlooked or not anticipated. Now, however, since these are common and deservedly popular, it becomes a question for florists to settle, what form of eye would be the most acceptable, and in harmony with the principles of aesthetics? So far as I am capable of judging the points which constitute a good eye, I venture to say it: The eye should not be less than three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter, forming a circle, having the tube for its centre. Of whatever color, clear and distinct, and not running into nor shaded with the ground-color of flower.
It will, we think, appear evident this form is greatly to be preferred to any other; and although flowers with square eyes are common, they should not "be sought to be perpetuated in raising seedlings.
Let us look for a moment at some of the varieties in this- class, and see what prospects there are for these requirements being met. Ocean Pearl is good as regards size and color, but is badly formed; and the eye, although clear and distinct, is so perfectly square, that, perhaps, it had better been blind. Garibaldi is another we can not help admiring, with all its faults. The eye is not distinct; flowers very large, badly arranged; color, pale claret, deeper shaded; fades soon. A magnificent variety, as regards size and color, for green-house culture. Lady Palmer-ston was stating the first really good in this way. She holds a place still, but is only an approximation to what may yet be expected in this strain. Day Star is a beautiful variety; color, brownish-crimson; eye, clear white, surrounded with a band of deeper shade than ground-color, which makes the contrast all the more striking; too small; otherwise, perhaps the best dark Verbena yet raised. In no instance that I am acquainted with, however, has the standard been nearer touched than by a seedling raised the present season in New Haven, called Day-spring. Color, indigo-purple, beautiful shade, and in striking contrast with the clearest white, and most perfectly-formed eye I have yet seen.
The flowers are well formed, and flat, thus, forming a most beautiful truss. Let any one compare this variety with such as Edith and Ocean Pearl, and he will readily per. ceive the form we contend for is greatly to be preferred to any other. And we believe, at no distant day, florists will no more think of recommending Verbenas with square eyes, or with eyes half formed, than they would a Polyanthus or an Auricula in that way.