This section is from the book "The Florists' Manual", by William Scott. Also available from Amazon: The Florist's Manual.
This is known among us as the mountain laurel, and is the plant that furnishes the fine glossy sprays that make such admirable wreathing for our winter festivities. This is a truly broad-leaved evergreen, but as I had occasion to remark under the head of Hardy Shrubs, it is in most soils and localities very disappointing when transported away from its native mountains. Those who have never seen a mountain-side covered with the pinkish white flowers of the kalmia have little idea what a lovely shrub it is on its native Alleghanies. It is widely distributed.
For an early June wedding (about the time it is usually in full flower) we have tried it in wreathing. Its appearance is fine, but the waxy florets never cease dropping, which precludes its use when in flower.
Neat little plants, well set with buds, are now imported from Europe suitable for forcing. They can be potted and kept in coldframe till time to start them in the houses. If wanted for Easter give them six weeks in a temperature of 50 degrees, and near flowering time a little more. Though very beautiful when in full flower, we do not attach much value to them, and nine customers out of ten would in preference buy an Indian azalea.