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.
"Fig. 4 is the same kind of case adapted to a single window; the ventilation, although shown in front, may be better if placed in the ends.
"Again, where double windows are used, and more especially where the outer window projects beyond the wall of the house, great accommodation is obtained for the keeping of plants. When these window gardens upon the last principle are made to project for two or three feet beyond the wall, as shown in section, fig. 5, the ends should be of glass also, and in them the ventilators should be placed. Windows facing the full sun should, in summer, be provided with an awning, to shade the plants during intense sunshine. This will prolong the season of flowering considerably; while a thicker covering substituted during winter will exclude the cold in ordinary weather; and a tea-urn, or similar vessel, replenished with hot water, or an iron heater dropped into it in the usual manner, will exclude frost of considerable intensity. Sometimes neat green gauze blinds are fastened to the top of the sloping roof inside, and made to run on wires close to the glass, for the purpose of shading; and again, the bottom and shelves are often so contrived, by having wire basketwork round their edges, that the pots are plunged in green moss, which, being kept constantly moist, supplies the plants with moisture, and counteracts the bad effects of a scorching and drying up sun.
"The lady's plant-case, fig. 6, is a miniature adaptation of the Wardian case, and is admirably calculated to form an interesting object either in the drawing-room or hall. The vase, as will be seen, is furnished with a groove all round, into which fits a glass shade, which covers the plants. It may be all in one piece, or framed with elegant and light brass, copper, or even silver sash-bar, and glazed with long, narrow, strips of glass, bent to the proper curvature.' Indeed, it may be made to represent a conservatory in miniature.
"Large crystal bell glasses are now made for the purpose of covering a whole vase of plants; and we question much but ere long every flower table or stand will be fitted with a glass shade, both when cut flowers are used, and for plants in pots. In both cases the duration of the flowers and plants in a perfect state will be prolonged, and their beauty unimpaired. At all events, their use during night must be obvious, more especially in apartments lighted by gas.
"The annexed, figs. 7, 8, represent two very pretty Wardian cases, exhibited at one of the Horticultural Society's fetes at Chis-wick. Fig. 7 is seven feet high, four feet two inches wide, and two feet six inches in depth. Fig. 8, four feet high, three feet broad, and one foot eleven inches in depth. The workmanship is in the very best manner of gold-colored metal, the bases being of polished wood lined with metal, and moving on castors; they are glazed with the best sheet glass, and each has a door at the end. Very fitting ornaments, we would say, for any drawing-room.
"When the Wardian case was first brought into notice, an opinion got abroad that they IL must be constructed so as to be perfectly airtight, as if plants, more than animals, could exist without that vital element. They are in general fitted pretty close, but by no means air-tight. The principle which governs the health of the plants in them is purely mechanical; the water which is in the soil or medium the plants are set in, is turned into vapor by the heat of the sun or room during the day, and becomes condensed upon the inside of the glass, and is returned again, as soon as the glass becomes so cold as to condense the vapor on its under surface. This process of evaporation and condensation goes on day and night, governed by the temperature of the room the case is placed in; and under these conditions many plants luxuriate in an astonishing degree.
"Fig. 9 represents a Wardian case mounted on a stand, with castors, for the more readily moving it about. The dimensions are as follows. The stand a is twenty-two inches in height, fitted with a groove all round for the reception of the base b, which is eight and a half inches deep; the glazed top or cover c is nineteen and a half inches high, making the whole height of the case four feet two inches. The sides of the box are of mahogany, lú-inch in thickness, and the bottom of deal, lj-inch thick, well framed and dovetailed together, and strengthened with brass bands, as seen in the sketch, and with two cross bars beneath.
The upper edge of the box is furnished with a groove for the reception of the glass roof, and this groove is lined with brass, to prevent the wood from rotting. The roof is composed of brass, and glazed with the very best flattened crown glass. The brass astragals are grooved for the reception of the glass, and not rebated, as in ordinary glaziug. The length of the case is three and a half feet by two feet in breadth.
Eyed studs are cast on the inner side of the ridge astragal, about half an inch in length, for the purpose of suspending small orchids or ferns from the roof. The inside of the box is lined with copper, and at one of the corners an aperture is formed into which a copper tube, two inches long, is inserted, and furnished with a cock for withdrawing any superfluous moisture that may at any time accumulate within the box. One of the panes in the roof is made to draw out, being less firmly set in the groove of the astragals. This provision is necessary for the occasional arrangement of the plants, but the general arrangement is made by lifting the top off entirely. This is, however, seldom necessary, as plants both in pots plunged in moss, and planted out in proper soil, and well drained below, have been kept in a healthy state from four to nine months without removal.
"Of Wardian cases, figs. 10 and 11 are elegant examples, calculated for a drawing-room or saloon. In fig. 10 the top lifts off for ventilation, and is fitted closely into a brass groove, to which all the other bars are attached. The under part also fits into a groove in the raised part of the table, and has entirely to be lifted off when the plants are introduced or arranged. The whole is made of brass highly polished, and plate-glass bent to the necessary curves in making. Fig. 11 lifts off in one piece, and is formed of polished brass, as in the last example".
We shall conclude this excellent article in our next number. The winter, when all is dreary without, is the season when plants in parlors are most needed. We think we could give nothing more seasonable.