Immortelles (a name given by the French to those flowers which from their papery nature do not wither on drying, known in this country as "everlasting flowers," and are furnished by plants in widely different families. The immortelle so largely used by the French, made up into wreaths, crosses, and other designs, is lielichrysum orientale, a perennial composite from the island of Crete (and formerly called gnaphalium), which, upon stems about a foot high, bears dense clusters of bright yellow globular flower heads, about the size of a large pea; as far north as Paris this is a tender plant, but in the south of France large quantities are raised to supply the demand. The usual French immortelle wreath consists of these in their natural color, made into a heavy circle with a motto worked in of the same flowers dyed black. There are several annual species and varieties of helichrysum, with much larger flowers and of various colors, that are common in our gardens, where they are cultivated for making winter bouquets. These and all other everlasting flowers should be gathered before they have fully expanded, tied in small bunches, and hung up to dry.
Other plants of the composite used for the same purpose are acroclinium roseum, with a white variety; ammobium alatum, small white; helipterum Sanfordii and H. corymbosum, yellow and white; rhodanthe Manglesii and its varieties, from white to dark purple, the most beautiful and delicate of all, whether fresh or dry; Waitzia aurea and xeranthemum annuvm, with white, blue, and purple varieties. Besides these, the globe amaranths (gomphrena), several species of statice, and gypsophila are cultivated for drying. Quite as pretty as any of these exotics is our pearly everlasting, antennaria margari-tacea, which is common all over the northern states on dry knolls and in woods; this if gathered sufficiently early makes a fine immortelle, and being white, may be colored according to fancy. Considerable quantities of immortelles are imported by American seedsmen, both in bunches and made up in bouquets, baskets, and designs. One establishment in Prussia has 100 acres devoted entirely to their cultivation.
They are sent out in their natural colors, or more frequently dyed; most of them have to he bleached before dyeing, which is done by sulphur fumes, chlorine, or acids, according to the kind, and afterward colored, usually with aniline dyes. Of late years there have appeared among the immortelles larkspurs, roses, and other flowers not ordinarily so classed; these are preserved by exposing them thoroughly to sulphur fumes and afterward drying them, when most flowers regain the color that sulphur has temporarily removed.