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 gardening world must look with no little interest at the old-fashioned, neglected things that are, from time to time, resuscitated from the oblivion into which caprice or indifference has cast them. Tastes and prejudices in floral matters will, perhaps, always vary and fluctuate as fashions do; and if I may judge by the inquiries made after many of our old-fashioned plants, as noticed in the Floral World from time to time, a reaction is decidedly taking place in favor of the old plants of our gardens. May I be allowed to make a few remarks on some plants, about which as yet you have said nothing, and on some of which you have not said enough ? The Iberis is among the latter. These plants, of which I. sem-permrens may be taken as a type, are in reality evergreen shrubs. I shall only notice two or three kinds, merely to show not only their beauty, but their utility, even in the most refined parterres.
To commence with I. sempervirens. This is, perhaps, one of the freest flowering plants on earth - a very mountain of snow; a thousand heads of bloom, of the most intense whiteness, would be but a low computation on a well-managed specimen; but it must be managed - which is very simply done - so as to make it highly ornamental in spring, and a beautiful object in mid-winter. The plant, if left to itself, soon assumes a straggling, untidy kind of habit; to counteract which, and to render the plant worthy of any place, an annual pruning is necessary. The moment the plant begins to look seedy, take the shears and clip it closely over, and reduce it to what size you choose, which may vary from one foot to two, according to position and the effect desired. No plant bears clipping better; it soon forms a beautiful compact evergreen bush, and in the latter character is as telling in mid-winter as its profuse flowering is in spring. A score or so of this plant, systematically planted, would lighten up the finest garden at a very early season, if allowed to form a permanent part of the design.
A nobleman's gardener lately told me it was a beautiful plant, but of no use, as he had always to lift it before it had done blooming, to make room for the geraniums, etc.. What a folly !
The next variety we shall notice is Iberis corifolia, or coris-leaved. This plant has lately become deservedly popular, though it is not new, having been introduced about 140 years ago; it is, perhaps, the finest of the tribe, decidedly shrubby, and should be well stopped in when young, as the plant would otherwise become straggling. Individually it is most beautiful, either as a pot plant for exhibition, or a first-class plant for the border, but does not bloom with the freedom of I. semper-virens, and therefore less adapted for display as a grouping plant.
The last plant of the tribe I shall notice is I. garrexiana; and looking at the plant in all particulars, we may say the last shall be first, for lighting up the darkness and clothing the nakedness of our flower-gardens in spring, flowering, as it does, even in the north of England, in early April, and therefore may be thrust aside in May, so as to leave a clear stage for the scarlet and yellow. It is the dwarfest-growing of the tribe, barely reaching eight inches high; when in flower, forming a low evergreen mass, at all times sheeted over in spring with the purest of white If liberally planted, it has a very cheerful effect in spring; or may be used advantageously as an edging to the larger beds, giving a ring of snow in April and May, and ditto of green the rest of the year. Unlike sempervirens or corifolia, this may be propagated by division. Growing close to the ground, every branch becomes rooted, and a medium-sized plant will break up into twenty or more. - Thos. Williams, in Floral World.