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 were two plants trained on a wall of a glass-covered promenade at Chatsworth which had reached a height of about thirty feet, and in March each year were covered from bottom to top with flowers; but we shall probably have to wait until the large conservatories in Central Park are erected before we shall see it fully developed in this country.
The Rose should also take a prominent position among our flowering plants in March. Those who have a forcing house, independent of their cool house, will have plenty of flowers at Christmas; but from March the plants will grow and flower freely in any ordinary greenhouse. It is a pity the taste does not turn to the fine variety of hybrid perpetual Roses, as a variation from the Teas and China varieties; there is such a variety of color, delicate perfume, and the flowers are so beautiful when fully expanded - a remark which does not apply to the tea section. I am aware there is not the continual flowering, but I would suggest to the lovers of Roses they should try a few dozens of the perpetu-als in pots, to bloom in early spring; they would be surprised at the brilliant colors and large flowers, which in this climate are seldom seen to perfection, from the flowering season in the open ground being at the hottest season of the year. I have grown them here, and can recommend them with confidence. A few of the earliest varieties of the Azalea will be now commencing to flower, and will add much to the beauty of the greenhouse; the flowers also last longer than later in the season, when the weather is hotter.
There are now so many very fine varieties to be obtained at a cheap rate, it is a pity to occupy the space with many of the old fashioned sorts, with thin and bad shaped flowers.
It is a good plan to mix some whale oil soap and sulphur, about one ounce of the former and half ounce of the latter to a gallon of water, and give the plants a good washing while at rest; it prevents the ravages of thrip and red spider, which, if not kept in check, is troublesome when the plants should be in full growth, and weakens them much by causing the leaves to turn a sickly color and fall off, so that the flowers are neither so plentiful or so fine as on a vigorous, healthy plant. I usually lay the plant over a tub in such a way that the shoots, which are very brittle, do not get broken, and with a powerful syringe dash the mixture thoroughly into every joint, and it usually keeps the plants clean for the season. The plants are turned on the sides to reach the under side of the leaves, which is the general hiding place for insects, and also to prevent the water from dropping on the soil in the pots; for although not deleterious in itself, it chokes the pores of the soil and prevents the water from passing freely - a matter of great importance in fine rooted plants like Azaleas. I may add, it is not advisable to use this or any other mixture on the foliage while the growth is young and tender, and certainly not when in flower; the foliage of Azaleas is very easily injured when in a young state, and requires great care if necessary to fumigate with tobacco at that time; but if the plants are clean before flowering, a free use of the hose or syringe each day while growing is usually sufficient to keep insects in check.
Hyacinths and Tulips will now be gay, and will require frequent attention with water, if expected to last some time in flower; these bulbs being generally grown in small pots, it is a good plan to stand the pots in saucers of water in which a pinch of guano may be placed; this will improve the size and color of the flowers.
Cyclamens will now be in full beauty; these plants are gems, both for greenhouse and room decoration, and if a little water is allowed to stand in the saucers, in a warm room with plenty of light, they will flower as well as in a greenhouse; but when the bulbs are large, care is required not to water over the bulb, for it frequently rots the heart and the plant eventually decays.
A few pots of Mignionette and Heliotrope should be grown in every greenhouse, both for the delicate perfume in the flower and also for cutting a spray for a bouquet or glass of flowers.
A few violets should be grown in pots; a single flower of the Marie Louise variety will perfume a small greenhouse. Of course, where room in the greenhouse is limited, violets for gathering will be grown in a frame which is protected from severe frost; the Russian varieties, of which Czar and King of Violets are improved varieties, are hardy and flower all the winter in open ground in England; they will also stand the winter here in many places with slight protection, and winter well in cold frames, and also flower well if covered to exclude frost; a moderate frost will not hurt the plants, but it takes all the scent from the flower; these varieties are all dark shades of purple, which make them less popular than the Neapolitan, the neutral tint of which harmonizes with other colors; the Marie Louise is simply a great improvement on the Neapolitan.
A selection of flowering Begonias will be also in flower at this season, and now is a good time to strike cuttings for next autumn and winter blooming; young plants are better than keeping old ones over more than one season; the old plants will continue flowering indoors until it is warm enough to plant tender things in the flower garden, when they may be planted in the open borders, and will flower all the summer freer than indoors, and are very desirable and ornamental for that purpose; the plants can remain until out down with frost, and then be cleared away with Coleus and other summer occupants.
A few plants of Hoteia Japonica and Deutzia gracilis in pots should be coming on for flowering; these are both very useful for cutting, and can be turned out of pots into the open ground when done flowering.