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.
One hundred thousand gladiolus bulbs are planted to the acre, and but little knowledge of arithmetic is required to figure out the number of plants growing in this fifteen acre plantation. It may well be imagined that the sight of this field of flowers is grand. In passing through it by rail the sensation is that of entering a fiery lake, for the red and crimson flowers predominate, and the illusion is enhanced as the breeze sways the spikes of flowers to and fro in the form of mimic waves. These brilliant flowers are sent to the New York market daily, ten thousand, perhaps, at a time, and are to be seen on every street stand as well as in the more pretentious flower stores.
Plant some Gladiolus for early flowering, it often proves the earliest planted bulb, gives the finest flower spikes, and by making several plantings at intervals of two or three weeks, it will usually give a succession of blooms until frost commences. There are now so many handsome varieties of these flowers that it is difficult to advise what sorts to plant, as it is rather a question of money; but I may say that many of the varieties sent out in the last five or six years are altogether more handsome than the older sorts; at the same time if any one requires a large mass of bright color, the old Brechleyensis is unsurpassed; but if a large white, or in some instances a beautiful striped and flaked flower is required, grow Shakespeare, which is often as handsome as the finest Orchid; and La Candeur is as near perfection in flower and spike as a pure white Gladiolus can be.
Plant a few bulbs to flower in succession to those planted early in the season. We often get inquiries if these bulbs will live in the ground during winter. In dry soil, if planted deeper than the frost penetrates, they will live, and so will potatoes; but either will be killed if much frozen.
Bouvardias for winter blooming shoald be planted out at once. These plants should not be allowed to flower much during summer, but the flowers be cut off to induce free growth. Jasminoides make a nice bed for cutting during the summer, for this variety will flower all the year round; and although it does not last after cutting so well as some of the other varieties, the flowers are sweeter.
Foliage Plants - Any odds and ends of these which are not handsome specimens, on turning out the plants from greenhouses, such as large begonias, dracaenas, etc., may be grouped in some corner of the flower garden, if not desired to save these plants for another season. They will make a fine show during the present summer, and can be left to their fate at the end of the season; but these plants often grow so fine that they are considered worth saving at the end of the season, if room can be found to stow them away.
If these plants have not received plenty of water, the flower stems have not been so fine as usual, but we expect those which flower this month will be unusually fine if the weather is not too hot. In shady positions where staking is necessary, it must not be neglected, for a sudden storm, just as the flowers are about to open, will break the stems down.
Carinas have not grown so fast as usual during the early part of the season, but are now making rapid progress. The dry weather did not prevent these plants flowering, for some of the varieties were in flower when not more than a foot high in June.
Celosia Huttonii, although not worth growing as a greenhouse plant, is a grand border plant; its bushy, compact growth and bronzy crimson foliage is very telling, and it is not like its close relative the Amaranthus salicifolius, disposed to die off just as its beauty commences to develop. The above plant can be either propagated from seeds or cuttings, which root freely.
Double Flowering Zinnias have been much recommended as a border plant, the flowers are certainly very double and some of the colors are very handsome, although the yellows are too much like double marygolds, but there is not flower enough for the mass of foliage, neither is the flower high enough above the plant to make any show besides leaves. In our dry sandy soil it has this fault, and we saw some large beds planted round the Treasury building at Washington, which were evidently watered each day, and there was much more foliage than flowers, so it would be well not to occupy any prominent position with these plants.
Agaves and other succulents have been quite at home in the dry weather; we saw them used quite extensively for flower garden decorations in the hot, dry climate of St. Louis, which proves that we do not plant them nearly so extensively as we ought in this country generally; neither wind or sun trouble these plants in the least; in fact the more sun the better, and if planted out will not require watering for the season, and not every day if used for vases. The plants require but little attention in the winter if kept dry and free from frost.
The John Standish Gladiolus, just Introduced, has flesh colored flowers, marked with crimson and purple, forming a magnificent spike.
Mr. J. S. Richards displayed a fine collection of seedling Gladiolus, many of them far excelling the European seedlings. The seven here named have been selected as being worthy of a place among the best of named varieties.
The Bride, large, fine, pure white flower, splendid form, long spike, flowers open together, by far the best white.
Edward S. Rand, Jr., tall spike of cerise flowers; large open flower, upper petals with distinct white centre lined and tipped with carmine; lower petals strongly marked with rich lake.
Joseph Breck, light rosy pink, with dashes of carmine and lake.
Francis Parkman, rich crimson, with pure white throat, the white extending in lines through the centre of each petal, a very showy flower.
General Sherman, glowing crimson, with lighter throat and yellowish markings; on lower petals a dazzling flower.
Scottish Chief, upper petals pink, dashed with carmine; lower, pure white tipped, and sometimes dashed with carmine, a large flower, but not perfect in form. They were awarded the Society's Silver Medal.