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.
There have been remarkably fine importations of bulbous roots, this season, and in greater variety than usual. Those from the establishment of A. Bridgeman, 876 and 878 Broadway, New York, seem to us larger and heavier than it is common to see, and in finer condition. See advertisement.
G. C. Thorburn & Co., of 53 Cortland Street, and Newark, N. J., have also shown the excellence of their foreign agent in this particular, the present year, and have imported an extraordinary lot of various bulbs, which, we trust, our readers saw the list of last month. Among them they must have observed many scarce articles, and, especially, the Lilium giganteum, which so few have yet seen in bloom. It is only $8 a bulb.
It has been a fine December for planting bulbous roots, and the probability is, there will be a good display of these flowers next spring. As an instance of interest in this line, we may mention that such was the enthusiasm of Mr. G. C. Thorburn (now of Newark, N. J.), in order to ascertain whether it was soil or climate that so much weakened the second and after years' growth of foreign bulbs, that he actually imported from Holland, one autumn, two large barrels of the finest soil from a hyacinth nursery, and made one bed entirely of it, removing all the original soil. The result was a most magnificent bloom - the admiration of thousands of his visitors. He carefully took up these bulbs in June, and dried them in the shade. They shrunk fifty per cent., and, on replacing them carefully, in the fall, he had the mortification to find them flower next year, weak and feeble stemmed, with not over half the bells which were on them the first year. So it must have been the climate; our warm and exciting rains of May and June, and the heat, are too much for them.
Mr. Thorburn was, we understand, the first to introduce crocus pots for winter flowering of those lovely little pets. His instructions say: "Leave out the pots with croons, etc., to make them hardy, as the longer they are oat in the atmosphere the stronger they flower in doors, when it is too cold to leave them out day and night; in the mean time, take my advice, and use them roughly. Unless a very hard frost (25° or 20°), don't bring them in, let them have the rain (as much as falls), as it is a well known fact, that a bulb of hyacinth in a pot never begins to grow well until the pots are well filled with its silvery roots; then, it thinks of shooting upward, which the genial warmth of the house favors. Hyacinths or tulips never deteriorate from double to single, but, in our climate, degenerate into mere small flowers with numerous offshoots. It is a fact, that after the first year, both hyacinths and crocus dwindle to half their size, and never flower as strong as when first imported and flowered".
No bulb should be taken up for any purpose, or injured in its growth in any way while the leaves are green; for it should ever be remembered that it is the leaves that bring the root to maturity, and prepare it for flowering the following year. If these are injured or cut off, or if the plant is transplanted, unless with such a ball as not to touch any of its fibres, while in a growing state, the bulb will not recover so as to be able to flower, for at least one year, or perhaps more. Autumnal-flowering bulbs are not in a state of rest till the beginning of the following summer, as the Colchicums, autumnal-flowering Crocuses, Amaryllis lutea, and a few others. These, therefore, are to be taken up when their leaves begin to decay, early in summer, their offsets separated and planted in the nursery department, and the parent bulbs replaced in a month or six weeks, in order that they may have time to establish themselves and flower before winter.
Linden's "Catalogue of New and Rare Exotics," cultivated by him at Brussels, gives the name and prices of a great number of novelties, chiefly from the mountains and valleys of tropical America. This year we have the following, now on sale for the first time, viz.: Aris-tolochia leuconeura, a fine foliaged twining plant, with deep green leaves marked with white veins; Begonia Bex, a magnificent Assam species, the whole stock of which is in the hands of Messrs. Rollisson; Begonia Lazuli, another Assam plant, so called because its leaves resemble in color the deep blue stone called Lapis Lazuli; Boehmeria ? argentea, a shrub with leaves pale green above and marked with great blotches and pistules of silver gray, while the under side has conspicuous reddish brown ribs; Campylobotrys argyroneura, another fine variegated-leaved species; Cyanophyllum magnificum, a superb plant with leaves sixteen inches long, deep velvety green above, bluish purple below; the Marantas fasciata, borussiea, and pulchella, all species with variegated leaves; Spigelia anea, a bronzed Lilliputian plant; and. a new greenhouse Monochostum, called sericeum.
In a previous page will be found an extract from Mr. Dreer's directions for the cultivation of bulbs, and we may say that this season's importations from Holland have never been exceeded for size and value. Some that we have seen from Bridgeman's, Nos. 876 and 878 Broadway, are the heaviest and largest yet introduced, and we take the opportunity of saying, that at few stores of the kind in any country can be found a better assortment of everything which a garden or a gardener wants.
Mr. Bridgeman, of New York, has sent us a sample of his bulbs, for which he will please accept our thanks. The kinds are choice, and the bulbs as fine as bulbs can be. We wish all our readers had some as good. They are in-dispensable for winter blooming.
The earliest will be now coming in flower. Give an occasional dose of weak manure water; it increases the size of the flowers, and also the color. Place a few more in heat to succeed the early bloomers. Remove them from the plunging material before the tops become drawn up. This is especially necessary -with Narcissus and Jonquils, which commence to grow very early. These plants will keep well in any place just protected from frost. Bulbs are very useful for window and room plants.
Cyclamens will now be growing freely, and commencing to flower. Mark and select those plants with the most handsome foliage and the freest blooms - there being much difference in this respect - for, although all are worth growing, some are quite worth growing for their beautiful marbled foliage, and others are freer in regard to flower, and more desirable in color. They also vary much in perfume; some being nearly scentless. We may add, that some strains of Cyclamens in this country are superior to the best average kinds grown in Europe. This we have tested by growing selections from each. The plants will now require more water; but be careful not to water over the crowns of large bulbs, or get the soil sodden, or the bulbs will decay. A temperature of about 50° is best for these plants.