Abronia Acroclinium *Alyssum *Asperula Bartonia *Cacalia Calandrinia Calendula Candytuft Centranthus Chrysanthemum, annual Clarkia Collinsia Collomia Convolvulus minor Coreopsis Cornflower Dimorphotheca Erysimum Eschscholtzia Eutoca Gilia Godetia *Gypsophila Hawkweed Helichrysum Hibiscus Jacobea Kaulfussia *Larkspur *Lavatera Layia *Leptosiphon Leptosyne Limnanthes Linaria Linum Love-lies-bleeding *Lupinus Malope Marigold *Mathiola *Mignonette Nasturtium Nemophila Nigella Phacelia Platystemon *Poppy Prince's Feather Rudbeckia Salpiglossis Sanvitalia Saponaria Silene Sunflower Swan River Daisy Sweet Pea Sweet Sultan Venus' Looking-glass Venus' Navel-wort *Virginian Stock Viscaria Whitlavia Xeranthemum
Hardy annuals are worth better treatment than they sometimes receive. They may be sown at once where they are intended to bloom, and for the varieties preceded by an asterisk this method is a necessity, because they do not well bear transplanting. In every case sow thinly, and afterwards thin boldly, for many of the flowers named will occupy a diameter of one or even two feet if the soil is in a condition to do them justice. Give the ground a deep digging and incorporate plenty of manure, except where Nasturtium is to be sown. A rather poor soil is necessary for this annual, or the flowers will be hidden by excessive foliage.
Abutilon.—There is yet time to raise plants for blooming in the current year. The seedlings must be potted on regularly to render them robust and free-flowering.
Aster.—Only those who are closely acquainted with the modern development of this handsome flower can have any conception of its varied forms and colours. There are dwarf, medium, and tall varieties in almost endless diversity, and nearly all of them will be a credit to any garden if well grown. Too often, however, flowers are seen which are a mere caricature of what Asters may become in the hands of men who understand their requirements. To grow them to perfection the ground should be trenched in the previous autumn, where the soil is deep enough to justify the operation. If not, the digging must be deep, and plenty of decayed manure should be worked in. Leave the ground roughly exposed to the disintegrating effects of winter frosts; and in spring it should be lightly forked over once or twice to produce a friable condition, in which the roots will ramify freely and go down to the buried manure for stimulating food. If by such means stiff land can be made mellow, it will grow Asters of magnificent size and colour.
In sowing it is not wise to rely on a single effort. We advise at least two sowings; and three are better, even if only a few plants are wanted. This diminishes the risk of failure and prolongs the flowering season. Prepare a compost of leaf-mould and loam, mixed with sharp sand to insure drainage. Towards the end of the month sow in pots or in seed-pans on an even surface; and we lay stress on a thin sowing, to avoid the danger of the seedlings damping off. Barely cover the seed with finely sifted soil, and place sheets of glass on the pans or pots to check rapid evaporation. If water must be given, immerse the pots for a sufficient time, instead of using the water-can. A cool greenhouse, vinery, or a half-spent hotbed is a good position for the pans, and a range of temperature from 55 deg. to 65 deg. should be regarded as the outside limits of variation.
Auricula.—Seed may still be sown; indeed, April will not be too late. Partially submerging the pans when water is needed saves many seeds from being washed out and wasted.
Balsam.—- Although this flower comes from a tropical climate, it is not very tender; a gentle hot-bed is quite sufficient to bring up the seed. Two or three sowings are advisable to secure a succession of bloom, and for the first of them the middle of this month is the proper time. It is important that the soil for this plant should be light, rich, and very sweet. When the seedlings show their first rough leaves, lose no time in pricking them off, and they should afterwards be potted early enough to promote a dwarf habit.
Calceolaria.—- Plants from last year's sowing will begin to move, and should be shifted into their final pots before the buds show. The eight-inch size ought to contain very fine specimens. The compost for them should be prepared with care several days before use. Put the plants in firmly, and place them in a light airy greenhouse. As soon as the pots are filled with roots an occasional dose of manure water will be beneficial until the flowers begin to show colour, when pure soft water alone will be required. Tie out the plants some time before the buds attain full size.
Clerodendron fallax.—A charming stove plant, producing large heads of bright scarlet flowers suitable for greenhouse decoration. From seed sown in March or April there should be a show of bloom in August or September following.
Coleus is strictly a stove perennial. But our short winter days do not maintain a rich colour, and it will in almost every instance give more satisfaction if treated as an annual, enjoying the beautiful and varied foliage during summer and autumn, and consigning the plants to the waste-heap as wintry days draw near. We do not advise the sowing of seed earlier than March, because a considerable amount of daylight is necessary to the development of rich tints and diversified markings in the foliage. The essentials for raising plants from seed are good drainage, a temperature which does not fall below 65 deg., the careful employment of water, and the early transfer of the seedlings. The green plants may be thrown away immediately they reveal their character, but those which show delicate tints in the small leaves will abundantly compensate for all the care bestowed upon them.
Dianthus.—Put the seedlings into single pots, and harden in readiness for transplanting to the open in May or June.
Dimorphotheca.—This valuable half-hardy annual, a native of South Africa, known also as the Star of the Veldt, may be flowered within six weeks from time of sowing. Plants may be raised by starting seed this month or in April, in pans of light soil given the protection of a frame. Transplant in May, in well-drained soil, choosing a warm sunny spot. In the open, seed may safely be sown in May or June. Plants potted on from the early sowing will make a most attractive show in the conservatory, or seed may be sown in pots and the seedlings thinned to three or four in each.
Gaillardia.—To secure a supply of plants for the open ground in May, seed of all the varieties may be sown during this month. Prick off early and keep them dwarf.
Geum.—From seed sown this month or in April, the popular double variety, Mrs. Bradshaw, may be brought into flower in the first year. The seedlings should be pricked off into boxes and gradually hardened for putting out in May or June.
Gladiolus.—This is one of the most stately and beautiful flowers grown in our gardens. Some of the varieties are strikingly brilliant; others are exceedingly delicate in tint and refined in their markings. The culture may be of the most primitive kind, or it may become one of the fine arts of horticulture. Simply put into the ground and left to fight their own battle, the corms sometimes produce splendid spikes of flower, although not so imposing as better culture might have made them. Under skilful care the flowers are magnificent in size and colour.
The main work of preparing the ground should be done in autumn. Now it is only necessary to give the soil two or three light forkings, and those not deep enough to bring the buried manure to the surface. This frequent stirring is beneficial in itself, and it promotes the destruction of the foes which prey upon Gladiolus roots. Small Potatoes, roughly hollowed out, or pieces of Carrot, may be used as traps for wireworm and other vermin. Planting is sometimes done at the end of this month, but as a rule it is better to wait until the beginning of April.
Gloxinia.—There is yet time to secure a brilliant summer display from seed. Bulbs which have been stored through the winter need attention. Where these flowers are wanted early, and there is plenty of room, a commencement will probably be made in February; but in the greater number of gardens March is soon enough. Assuming the bulbs to be sound, they should be potted in a mixture of loam, peat, and sand. Those which start first must be re-potted for a forward supply. While growing, manure water twice a week will help to produce fine flowers, intense in colour; but when the flowers open, the liquid manure must be abandoned, and pure soft water be given as often as necessary, for Gloxinias cannot endure drought. Shading is an important matter from the commencement, and particularly during the flowering period.
Hollyhock seedlings will be ready for putting into thumb pots. Directly they are established, begin to prepare them for planting out in May.
Impatiens.—Some growers find a little difficulty in raising this elegant flower from seed. Probably it arises from sowing too early. Where there is a command of sufficient heat no trouble should be experienced in March, and it is essential to sow very thinly for two reasons. Crowded seedlings are liable to damp off, particularly in dull, moist weather, and they are so fragile that it is well-nigh impossible to transfer them from the seed-pots until they are about an inch high.
Lavatera.—As the Mallows do not transplant well it is desirable to sow in the flowering positions. Good ground is necessary to insure fine specimens, and ample space must be allowed for the plants to develop. The seed may be sown from March to May.
Lobelia.—The perennial varieties make splendid border plants, and are easily grown from seed. Sow during February or March, in moderate heat, and in due time transfer to a deep rich loam. Their dark metallic foliage and brilliant flowers are most conspicuous, and admirably fit them for the back row of a ribbon border, or for groups in the mixed border.
Lupinus.—Seed of the annual varieties may be put in from March to May, and it is necessary to sow where required for flowering, as transplanting is not satisfactory. The perennial Lupines may also be flowered as annuals by sowing seed in March or April.
Marigold.—Both the African and French varieties are of importance late in the season, for they continue to bloom until cut down by frost. The former reaches the height of from eighteen to thirty inches, and the colour is limited to yellow in several shades, from pale lemon to deep orange. The latter is more varied in habit as well as in colour, and the Miniatures make excellent bedding plants. In hot dry seasons Marigolds entirely eclipse Calceolarias, because they can well endure drought and a short supply of food; whereas the Shrubby Calceolaria does not thrive under such conditions. All the varieties of Tagetes may be sown now on a moderate heat, and they should be pricked off into pans or boxes in readiness for transferring to the open ground in May.
Marvel of Peru.—The treatment prescribed for Balsam will suit this plant. In the first year it will grow to a considerable size, but will not, as a rule, attain to its full dimensions until the second season. It is a half-hardy perennial, and when saved through the winter will need protection from frost.
Mignonette finds a welcome in every English garden; and to add to its attractiveness there are now yellow, red, and white varieties, in addition to such forms as dwarf, pyramidal, and spiral. Mignonette can be grown without the least difficulty; indeed, it will reproduce itself from seed shed in the previous year. Nevertheless, it is true that in the majority of gardens justice is seldom done to this flower, for the simple reason that there is not sufficient faith in its capabilities. Each plant will cover a space of at least one foot, and we have seen specimens a yard across, bristling with flower-spikes which are delightfully fragrant. The soil for it should be made firm, just as an Onion bed is treated. Except for this one point, the culture of a hardy annual is all that is necessary. Mignonette does not transplant successfully, but otherwise it is very accommodating. The seedlings are frequently taken off by fly as fast as they appear above ground. Soot and wood-ashes applied in good time are the best preventives; but a second sowing may be necessary, and it should be made immediately the loss is discovered.
Nemesia.—For the earliest display of this beautiful annual the first sowing should be made in pots under glass during this month. In the open border seed may be sown in both May and June. Occasionally a little difficulty is experienced in raising plants under artificial conditions, but those who sow in beds or borders from the same packet of seed during the months named, will find that the culture is quite easy.
Pentstemon.—The treatment recommended for the perennial section of Lobelias will exactly suit this flower.
Phlox Drummondii.—There is still time to sow. Established seedlings should be gradually hardened by free access of air, until they are ready for the open ground.
Phlox, Perennial, may be raised from seed sown in shallow boxes in the early part of this month, and placed in moderate heat. Transplant the seedlings when ready, gradually harden, and plant out in rich soil one foot apart, or put them into vacant places in the shrubbery. Aid with water if necessary.
Poppy.—The annual varieties do not well bear transplanting, especially from light soils, and therefore, as a rule, it is advisable to sow where the plants are intended to bloom. They make conspicuous lines and clumps among shrubs; and this is especially the case with the huge flowers of the double class. Sow in March and April, and commence thinning the seedlings while they are small. They should ultimately be left about one foot apart. The perennial Poppies may also be flowered as annuals if sown in this month and transferred to open quarters when large enough.
Schizanthus.—Elegant half-hardy annuals, which can be grown as specimens for the conservatory, or in quantity for open borders. Sow in gentle heat, and pot on the seedlings.
Solanum.—For a succession of the varieties which are grown for their berries, sow again in heat, and make a sowing of the ornamental-foliaged kinds for sub-tropical gardening. The latter are rather more tender, and need a somewhat higher temperature than the former. They must all have liberal culture to bring out their fine qualities.
Statice.—The hardy annual varieties of Sea Lavender may be sown during March or April, and the best results are obtained by starting the seed in pans and planting out when the seedlings are far enough advanced in size. Seed of the hardy perennial kinds should be sown from April to July on light soil, and transplanted later on to flowering quarters.
Stock, Ten-week.—The increasing favour shown for Annual Stocks is in part no doubt attributable to the growing appreciation manifested for all kinds of flowers. But it is traceable in a still greater measure to the augmented purity, brilliance, and variety in colour of modern Ten-week Stocks, as well as to the enhanced reliability of seed in producing double flowers. We need say nothing of its perfume, for this is a quality which the most unobservant can scarcely fail to notice.
Although the Ten-week Stock is half-hardy, it must not receive the treatment of a tender annual; indeed, one of the most important points in growing it is to avoid any excess of artificial heat. A little assistance at the commencement it must have; but the aim should be to impart a hardy constitution from the moment the seedlings appear. We are not advocating reckless exposure to chill blasts, but the necessity of giving air freely whenever there may be a fair opportunity. The best of seed-beds can be made in pans or shallow boxes filled with sweet, sandy soil. In these sow thinly, so that the young plants may have abundant room. Even a little apparent wastefulness of space will be repaid by stout and vigorous growth. From the middle to the end of the month is a suitable time for sowing.
Sweet Pea.—This flower is so much in demand for decorative purposes that a prolonged display should be secured by successive sowings, commencing in this month and continuing until May, or even to June, where the soil and circumstances are specially favourable. The value of groups of Sweet Peas in borders and for enlivening shrubberies is now thoroughly appreciated, and it is not uncommon to see fine clumps among dwarf fruit trees.
Tigridia, or Ferraria.—Finer flowers are generally obtained from the open border than from pots, and the bulbs should be planted out three or four inches deep in March or April. Sandy loam and peat suit them admirably. On a dry border these bulbs will pass the winter safely, but in wet land it will be perilous to leave them out.
Verbena.—It is possible to raise Verbenas in the open from seed sown in drills on light soil, but the attempt is a little hazardous. There is, however, no danger at all in sowing in pans placed in a cool frame. The plants should be potted immediately they are large enough to handle. The flowering from this sowing will be rather late, but not too late for a good show of bloom.
Zinnia.—The double varieties are now grown almost to the exclusion of single flowers, and the former are so incomparably superior, that they are judged by the severe rules of the florist. With this plant it is useless to start too early. Towards the end of the month a commencement will be made by experienced growers, but the comparative novice will be wise to wait until the beginning of April. Sow in pots filled with a compost of leaf-mould, loam, and sand, and be quite sure there is effectual drainage. Plunge the pots in a temperature of about 60 deg..
Many half-hardy flowers, such as Acroclinium, Convolvulus major, Linum rubrum, Nemesia, Salpiglossis, Schizanthus, and others, which at an earlier period can only be sown with safety under protection, may now be consigned to the open ground without the least misgiving. A knowledge of this fact is of immense value to owners of gardens that are destitute of glass, for it enables them to grow a large number of flowers which would otherwise be impracticable. Of course, the flowering will be a little later than from plants raised earlier in heat.
Annuals, Hardy, which were not sown in March should be got in during this month and in May. A large number of beautiful subjects are available for the purpose, the most popular of which are named on page 373.
Aster.—When the seedlings attain the third leaf, they should be pricked off round the edges of 60-sized pots; later on put them singly into small pots, from which the transfer to the open ground will not cause a perceptible check. As the plants do not thrive in a close atmosphere, it is important to give air freely on every suitable occasion, or they cannot be maintained in a healthy growing condition. A second sowing should be made about the middle of the month, following the routine already advised. A sowing in drills on a carefully prepared bed in the open ground is also desirable, and in some seasons it may produce the most valuable plants of the year. Asters come so true from seed that the bed may be arranged in any desired pattern. Thin the plants early, and continue the process until they are far enough apart for flowering. A distance of eight inches is sufficient for the miniatures, ten inches for the dwarfs, and twelve or fifteen inches for the tall varieties.
Balsam.—About the middle of this month will be the time for a second sowing, and the seed may be raised in a frame without artificial heat.
Canterbury Bell.—Sow in good soil from April to July and transplant when ready. Under generous treatment these hardy biennials make a beautiful display in borders and the pure colours show with striking effect against the dark foliage of shrubs.
Carnation.—Any time from now until August will be suitable for sowing, and if the seed has been saved from a first-class strain, a good proportion of very fine flowers will be produced in the following year. For these plants florists have always considered it important that the potting soil should be prepared months before use, and there are good reasons for the practice. If this is impossible, see that the compost is sweet, friable, and, above all, free from that terrible scourge of Carnations, the wireworm. Even sifting will not rid the soil of its presence with certainty, but by spreading thin layers of the mould evenly upon a hard, level floor, and passing a heavy roller over it east and west, then north and south, the wireworm will be disposed of. Or dressing the soil with Vaporite two or three weeks in advance of potting will often prove effectual. Turfy loam three parts, leaf-mould one part, decayed cow-manure one part, with an addition of sharp sand, make a first-class compost. Sow in well-drained 48-sized pots, cover the seed very lightly, and place in a frame. Transplant the seedlings immediately they can be handled, when a cool, shaded pit will keep them in hard condition. After six or eight leaves are formed it will be time to plant them out. In the following spring the usual routine of staking and tying must be followed.
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (Marguerite, or Ox-eye Daisy).—Seed of these well-known perennial varieties may be sown any time from April to July. There are several greatly improved forms of this popular flower which may now be had in bloom from May until early autumn. Start the seedlings on a bed of light soil, and when large enough transplant them to positions for flowering in the following year.
Cyclamen.—The bulbs which have been flowering in pots through the winter are now approaching their period of rest, and they must not be neglected if they are to make a satisfactory display next season. Water should be gradually diminished until the foliage dies off, and then the corms will require shade, or they will crack. Dry treatment generally results in an attack of thrips, and each root must be painted with some good insecticide to destroy the pest. Cyclamen should never be allowed to become actually dust-dry; but if the pots can be plunged in a shaded moist pit, watering will rarely be necessary. In June the pots may be buried to the rim in a shady spot until August, when it will be time to re-pot and start the bulbs into growth. The chief enemies of Cyclamen are aphis and thrips. Fumigation will settle the former; for the latter, dip the plants in a solution of tobacco-water and soft soap.
Dahlia, seedlings must have plenty of water, and be kept free from aphis while in pots. Instead of taking out the leading shoot, as is often done, give it the support of a neat stick. The plants should also be potted on as growth demands, the important point being to maintain steady progress without a check until they can be planted out. At the same time they must be hardened in readiness for removal to the open ground; and if the work is carried on with judgment, the plants will be dwarf, and possess a robust constitution capable of producing a brilliant display of flowers until frost appears.
Gladiolus.—Assuming that the beds have been properly prepared, we have now only to consider the question of planting, and no better time can be chosen than the beginning of April. Some eminent growers are at the trouble of taking out the soil with a trowel for each bulb. In the opening, a bed of sand and wood-ashes or powdered charcoal is made, on which the root is placed. Others lay them in deep drills, partly filled with a similar light mixture. Whichever method is adopted, the crown of the corm should be left about four inches beneath the surface. The distance between them may vary from twelve to eighteen inches, and the greater space is a distinct advantage when attending to the plants subsequently. The same rules apply to the planting of clumps.
Kochia trichophylla.—Sow seed where the plants are to stand, or in a prepared bed from which they can be transferred to make clumps, lines, or single specimens where the attractive foliage will be most effective.
Lobelia.—Early in the month transfer the seedlings to pans or boxes, but the latter are preferable. Not a single flower should be allowed to show until the plants are established in the open ground. Although Lobelias are very attractive in pots, they cannot be satisfactorily grown in them, with the exception of the ramosa varieties. But the object is easily attained by potting plants from a reserve bed after they have developed into good tufts. From a stiff soil they can be lifted and potted with facility; and a light soil will cause no difficulty if the bed be soaked a short time in advance. After potting, the plants will give no trouble, except to supply them with water.
Marigolds can be raised in a cold frame, and towards the end of the month there will be no risk in sowing in the open ground. The plants thrive in a sunny position, even in scorching seasons.
Marvel of Peru.—If not sown last month, there is no time to lose; and with a little care seed can now be germinated without artificial heat. When the plants come to be transferred to the open, put them, if possible, in sandy loam, exposed to full sunshine.
Mignonette.—Successional sowings may be made up to the end of June. Give each plant plenty of room. By removing the seed-pods as fast as they are formed flowering is greatly prolonged.
Nasturtium.—Both dwarf and tall varieties are usually treated as hardy annuals, with the exception of the date of sowing. None of the Nasturtiums are quite hardy, and if sown in March the plants are liable to destruction by late frosts. It is therefore usual to sow in April or May, according to the district, and the growth is so rapid that the plants are full of bloom before the summer has far advanced. Sow on poor soil always.
The Tropaeolum canariense (Canary Creeper) may be raised in pans from a March sowing for planting out in May, or seed can be sown in the open during April.
Petunia.—- Plants from the first sowing will be ready for small pots, and they must be kept going until the 48-or 32-size is reached. All Petunias rebel if root-bound, and the double varieties are especially impatient in this respect. After each transfer give them a sheltered, shady position and attention with water until they start again. Good drainage and careful ventilation are essential, or the foliage will lose colour. Seedlings intended for beds may be transferred direct from the seed-pans into 60-sized pots.
Picotee and Pink.—See the culture prescribed for Carnation.
Ricinus.—At quite the end of the month or the beginning of May, seed put into the open ground will produce splendid specimens if treated with a lavish hand. Take out the soil for a depth of eighteen inches or two feet, and fill the space to within three inches of the surface with a mixture of rich soil and well-decayed manure. Upon each bed thus made place three Ricinus beans in a triangle, and when they are up, thin to one plant at each station, and this, of course, the strongest. This mode of growing Ricinus will astonish those who have been accustomed to allow the plant to struggle through existence in the ordinary soil of a garden border. Plentiful supplies of water must be given in dry weather, and stakes will be necessary to save the specimens from injury by wind. It is too early for putting out those raised in heat.
Stock, Ten-week.—Where the requisite quantity of seed has not been sown, it must be done promptly. If there happens to be a cold frame on a spent hot-bed to spare, it will exactly suit the seedlings when they are ready for transferring. Make the surface fresh by adding a little rich soil, and put the plants in rows three or four inches apart, allowing three inches between them in the rows. In seed-pans, however, space cannot be afforded in this liberal fashion, but they will make a full return for rather more than the usual spacing. To maintain a dwarf habit, it is imperative that the plants should be kept near the glass.
Where there are no facilities for growing Stocks in the manner described seed may be sown at the end of the month in the open ground, and with a little care there will be a handsome show of bloom. The seedlings are subject to the attacks of turnip fly, which is a terrible foe to them in the seed-leaf stage; in fact, the plants are sometimes up and gone before danger is suspected. A light sprinkling of water, followed immediately by a dusting of wood-ashes, just as they are coming through, will save them, but it may be necessary to repeat the operation two or three times until they are out of peril. A rich and friable seed-bed is one remedy for the fly, for it promotes rapid growth, which speedily places the plant beyond the power of its insect adversary. But if open-ground culture exposes Stocks to one hazard, it saves them from another, as mildew does not attack them unless they have been transplanted. Stocks come so true from seed that it is easy to arrange a design in any desired colours. Sow in drills from nine to fifteen inches apart, according to the height of the variety, and cover the seed very lightly with fine soil. The bed must be protected from birds, and a dressing of soot will keep off slugs. Begin to thin the plants early, but do not forget that some single specimens will have to be taken out when the flowers show, and that is the time for the final thinning.
Sunflowers do not well bear transplanting, hence the seed should be sown where the plants are intended to flower. During its brief season of growth, the Sunflower taxes the soil very severely, and to develop its full proportions decayed manure must be freely employed to a good depth, and unstinted supplies of water will be necessary in dry weather.
Zinnia.—- The first week of this month is as good a time as any to sow seed, and the conditions named under March should be followed. When the seedlings are an inch high, pot them separately, and place in a close, shaded frame until they are established. Then give air more and more freely while the plants are being trained to bear full exposure.
This is the chief month for bedding, and the crowded state of pits and houses creates a natural anxiety to push forward the work; yet the exercise of a little patience may save many a valuable lot of plants from being injured past recovery. Although the days are long, and perhaps sunny, the nights are often treacherous, especially in the early part of the month. The first business is to prepare the plants gradually for transfer to the open ground by free exposure whenever there is a favourable opportunity. Take off the lights on genial days, and by degrees open them at night, until they can be dispensed with altogether. About the second week of the month it will generally be safe to put the most hardy subjects on a bed of ashes, under the shelter of a hedge or wall, before planting them. Begin with Antirrhinum, Dianthus, Phlox Drummondii, Stock, and Verbena. A little later on, others which are rather more delicate, as, for instance, Balsam, Begonia, Dahlia, Petunia, Zinnia, &c, can be treated in the same way, until the great bulk of them are in final quarters. Sub-tropical plants, such as Nicotiana, Ricinus, Solanum, and Wigandia, had better be kept under control till the first or second week of June.
Annuals.—There is still an opportunity of sowing many varieties, and also to make further sowings of others that are already showing signs of promise. The practice of insuring a succession of all flowers much in demand for vases, of which Sweet Peas are an example, is on the increase, and deserves to be further extended. Another point is that many annuals which require heat in earlier months may with confidence be sown during May in the open ground.
Hardy Biennials and Perennials.—Seed of many favourite biennials and perennials may be safely sown in the open ground during May, June, and July, and as a general rule the finest plants for flowering in the following season are obtained from the earliest sowings. The bed for the seed should be prepared with care and a friable loam is the best for the purpose. Immediately the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant to small rich nursery beds and shift to flowering positions in the autumn. A number of these subjects are dealt with individually in the calendars for the months named, and others which are suitable for the purpose are:
Anchusa italica Aster sub-caeruleus Aubrietia Candytuft (Iberis) Cheiranthus Allionii Chrysanthemum leucanthemum Coreopsis grandiflora Cynoglossum Digitalis Gaillardia Galega officinalis Gaura Lindheimeri Geum Gypsophila paniculata Heuchera Lupinus Cenothera Poppy, perennial Pyrethrum Saxifrage Thalictrum Verbascum Viola
Antirrhinum is admirably adapted for a dry and sunny position, in which it will thrive and flower freely.
Balsam.—Towards the middle of the month a final sowing may be made with safety in the open ground. Former seedlings will need potting on until they reach the eight-inch size, and at each transfer put the plants in rather deeper than before; this encourages the growth of roots from the stems. While increasing the pot-room not a bud will show; but immediately the roots are checked by the pots, flowering will commence. The old method of stopping and disbudding not only spoiled the plants, but robbed them of the finest flowers, which are invariably produced on the main stem. Since the natural method of growing Balsams has been in favour it is usual to see grand specimens covered with immense flowers.
Campanula.—The hardy perennial varieties may be sown in the open during the present month to provide seedlings for transplanting to flowering positions in autumn. Should there be any good reason for delay it will not be too late to sow in June or July, but the finest specimens are generally produced from May sowings. The best results can always be obtained by raising the required number annually and discarding the plants after they have flowered in the following season.
Cineraria.—Those who care to have Cinerarias in bloom during November and December may do so from a sowing made at the beginning of April, but it is not usual to start so early. Our own practice is to sow twice, during the present month and again in June, to insure a succession. From this month's sowings we look for our finest plants. The Cineraria is easy to raise and to grow, but it will by no means take care of itself. It has so many enemies that unusual vigilance is necessary to flower it to perfection. It thrives in a compost of turfy loam, with a little leaf-mould added; but the soil should not be over-rich, or there will be much foliage and few flowers. Still, as the plant is a rapid grower, it must not be starved, neither must it suffer for lack of water. Pots or pans may be employed for the seed; and as the young plants grow freely, they may go straight to thumb pots without the usual intermediate stage of pricking off.
Coleus should be finally shifted into 48-sized pots. If signs of decline become manifest, weak liquid manure water given occasionally will revive the plants and intensify their colours. During the summer any ordinary greenhouse or conservatory will suit them, provided they are shaded from fierce sunshine.
Cyclamen.—The strongest seedlings should now be ready for 60-sized pots. Abundant but judicious ventilation, plenty of water, and freedom from aphis, are the conditions to be secured.
Dahlia.—Make the ground on which this flower is to be planted thoroughly rich. It is a rapid grower, and cannot attain to fine proportions on a poor soil. If the plants are carefully prepared for the change by free exposure on genial days, and also during warm nights, they will scarcely feel the removal. When first put out, dress the surrounding soil with soot to prevent injury by slugs, which show a decided partiality for newly planted Dahlias. Give water freely when requisite, and in staking the plants take care that the ties do not cut the branches. These ties will require attention occasionally during the summer and autumn.
Delphinium.—Sow the perennial varieties on a prepared bed. Thin early, without removing all the weaker seedlings, and when sufficiently advanced to bear removal, transfer to borders where the plants are to flower.
Hollyhocks may be put into the borders when the weather is quite warm. Wait until the end of the month, or even the beginning of June, rather than have them nipped by an untimely frost. Like the Dahlia this plant must have unstinted supplies of water and abundance of manure. A tall stake, firmly fixed, will also be necessary for each plant.
Nicotiana.—Seed may be sown on an open, sunny border, but it is a waste of seed and labour to put it into poor soil. Prepare the ground beforehand by deep digging, and by incorporating plenty of manure. If the near presence of other plants renders this impossible, drive a bar into the soil and work a good-sized hole. Fill it with rich stuff to within a few inches of the surface, and finish with fine soil, on which sow the seed. This method can only be adopted for light land. In the event of a cutting east wind after the seedlings are up, improvise some kind of shelter until the danger is past.
Petunias are very sensitive under a frost or cold wind. Therefore be in no hurry to bed the plants until quite the end of the month or beginning of June, especially if the weather appears to be at all threatening. A good mellow soil, free of recent manure, suits them. If unduly rich, it will strengthen the foliage at the expense of the flowers, and will also postpone the blooming until late in the season.
Portulaca.—It is useless to sow until the temperature is summerlike. If necessary, wait until the close of the month, or longer, before putting in the seed. This flower will endure neither a moist atmosphere nor a retentive soil. Sow on raised beds of light soil, the more sandy the better; and in seasons which speedily burn the life out of other plants, Portulacas will display their beauty, no matter how fiercely the sun may beat upon them. Water will occasionally be necessary, but it should never be given until there is obvious need for it. Portulacas are easily grown in pots or window-boxes, and they will bloom profusely where many other flowers only wither and die.
Primula.—Almost every season witnesses the advent of some novelty in this flower, either in colour or in form. And the plant is now worth growing for the beauty and diversity of its foliage alone. The flowers range from pure white through all shades of tender rose up to a deep, rich crimson. After years of earnest effort, two beautiful blue flowers have been obtained. There are also several elegant double strains, and these possess a special value for bouquets, because of their enduring quality. All the varieties, including the popular Star Primulas, can be grown with ease in any soil which is fairly rich and friable. Equal parts of leaf-mould and loam, with a little sand, will suit them to perfection. Fill the pots firmly, taking precautions to insure effective drainage. A thin layer of silver sand sifted over the soil will aid an even sowing by showing up the seed. As a finish, shake over just enough fine soil to hide the sand. Thin sowing is important, because the most reliable new seed is almost certain to germinate at intervals, and the plants which come first can then be lifted without imperilling the remainder. Prick off as fast as ready round the edges of small pots, and shade until established. Then give air more and more freely.
Stock, Ten-week.—The preparation of the soil is the first business, and whether the Stocks are intended to be grown in small groups or alone in beds, the treatment should be the same in either case. With light land there is no difficulty; it is only needful to dig it well, and to incorporate a sufficient quantity of decayed manure. If disposed to incur a little extra trouble to give the plants a start, take out some soil with a trowel, and fill the hole with compost from the potting shed. This course is indispensable on heavy land; and assuming it to be rich enough, the quickest and most effectual way is to make drills six inches deep at the proper distances, and nearly fill them with prepared soil, in which the Stocks can be planted. For a short time afterwards provide shelter from the midday sun, but do not keep them covered a moment longer than is necessary. In planting it must not be forgotten that an uncertain proportion of single specimens will have to come out. On this account it is advisable to put them in small groups, and remove the surplus even if they are double,
Sweet William.—The introduction of several new varieties has created a fresh interest in this fine old garden favourite. This is one of the hardy biennials that will not be hustled. On a nicely prepared bed in the open sow thinly in drills either during this month or up to July. In due time transplant in rows, affording sufficient space for each specimen to become stocky, and in autumn transfer to flowering quarters.
Verbena.—Beds for Verbenas should be rich, mellow, and very sweet. A poor soil not only produces poor flowers, but it materially shortens the blooming period. Peg the plants down from the outset, and allow them to cross and recross each other until there is a sheet of glowing colour.
Wallflower.—This fragrant spring flower is not always grown as well as it might be. It is often sown too late to become established before winter sets in. Sow now in drills nine inches apart on friable loam. Thin to three inches apart, and transplant the thinnings. A little later repeat the operation, so as to leave the plants at a distance of six inches in the rows. Assist them with water if necessary.
Zinnia.—A sowing in the open ground about the middle of the month will provide plants in gardens where there are no means of raising them artificially at an earlier date. Even those who possess a stock will be wise to put a final sowing in the open. If possible, choose a sunny border sloping to the south, and make the soil rich, fine, and rather firm. Drop seeds in little groups of three or four at each spot, allowing fifteen or eighteen inches between the groups. Cover lightly, and eventually thin the plants to one at each station.
The days are now at their longest, and plants in pits and houses should have the full benefit of it. By opening the lights early, and shading in good time, the flowering period will be greatly prolonged. Ply the syringe over plants infested with aphis until they are quite clean. In some instances, it may even be wise to pinch off young shoots which are covered with the fly.
Keep Verbenas, Petunias, and the taller varieties of Phlox Drummondii pegged down; this furnishes the beds and helps to check evaporation.
Rain and watering alike tend to harden the ground; and as this condition does not favour growth, the surface should be frequently broken with the hoe.
Anemone.—Those who grow this flower from seed should make another sowing now or in July, even if they have thrifty plants from the February sowing. By this arrangement the flowering period is prolonged, and the finer blossoms will probably come from this month's sowing.
Aquilegia seed will germinate now in the open ground, and the plants need no protection during winter.
Balsam.—As a rule, it is unwise to put Balsams into beds or borders before the first week of this month. The plant revels in warmth and light, and should have an open, sunny position. Its succulent nature will indicate the necessity of giving abundant supplies of water. For so fleshy and apparently fragile a plant, it is astonishing how well it stands in a strong wind. From good strains the separate colours come so true that the design of a bed can be accurately arranged. As pot plants Balsams need no support, provided they are kept dwarf and stout, and they make admirable decorative subjects. But for indoor use it is easy to grow them in the open ground, and when well advanced they can be lifted with care and potted. This procedure offers the advantages of a choice of colours even from mixed seed and a selection of the most robust plants.
Begonia, Tuberous-rooted.—This has proved to be one of the most elegant and refined bedding subjects we possess, and it appears to become more popular every year. The plant is also freely grown in the reserve border to produce flowers for cutting. Employ specimens that are large enough to make a show at once, and select plants of the short-jointed class for outdoor work. They must have unusually rich soil.
Calceolaria.—For wealth of bloom, combined with richness and intensity of colouring, the Herbaceous Calceolaria has no rival among biennials. A large greenhouse filled with fine specimens in their full splendour is a sight which will not soon be forgotten. One great source of interest lies in the annual changes in shades of colour, and the variations in the markings of individual flowers. From a first-class strain of seed, high expectation will not be disappointed. Indeed, the excellence of seedlings is so fully recognised, that there is not the smallest advantage in propagating the plant by the tedious method of cuttings. But Calceolarias will not be trifled with. They must have an even temperature and unremitting attention to maintain a thriving condition. Fill the seed-pans or pots firmly with a compost which is both rich and porous; the last point is of great consequence in helping to secure free drainage. Make the surface perfectly even, and whiten it with silver sand; this answers the double purpose of revealing the seed and afterwards of showing when it is sufficiently dusted over with fine soil. Whether or not this method be adopted, the sowing must be thin and even, and as the seed is exceedingly fine, the task is rather a delicate one. Sheets of glass placed over the pans and turned daily will check rapid evaporation. Place the pans in a moist, shady spot, where the temperature is constant, and germination will take place in from seven to nine days, when the glass must be promptly removed. Then comes a critical stage, and a little neglect may result in the loss of past labour, and necessitate a fresh start. Still keep the pans in some sheltered corner which can be thoroughly shaded from the sun. This question of shade needs much vigilance. So also does the supply of water, which must not be administered wholesale, but rather by frequent gentle sprinklings. On the appearance of the second leaf, promptly prick off the seedlings in carefully prepared pots, allowing about two inches between them. They will need dexterous manipulation because of their small size, but a skilful hand will transfer them without injury, and perhaps with a little soil adhering to the roots. As all the seedlings will not be ready at one time, it will probably require about three operations to clear the seed-pans, and the early removals should be so made as to avoid injuring the remainder. A pen, with the point firmly pressed into the holder, makes a small handy implement for the task. Retain the seedlings in a sheltered position, and continue the attention as to shade and watering. In about a month the plants will be ready for thumb pots.
Canna.—In the mixed border, and also in the sub-tropical garden, Cannas are much valued for the exceeding grace and beauty of their foliage. They should be put into very rich soil; and, like all other plants of rapid growth, they will need copious supplies of water in dry weather. In mild districts and on dry soils the plants may remain out all the winter, under the protection of a heap of ashes. But, as a rule, it will be necessary to store them in frames until spring; and they may be finer in the second than in the first season.
Cineraria.—To insure a succession, and where a sufficient stock is not already provided, another sowing should be made, following the method advised last month. The seedlings, when transferred to small pots, should be put into a close frame, and be sprinkled with water morning and evening until the roots take hold. At first it is desirable to keep them fairly warm, but in a fortnight the heat may be gradually reduced and more air be given until cool treatment is reached. The plants will need potting on up to November, when they should go into the final size; and, except for special purposes, 6-1/4-or 7-1/2-inch pots are large enough. Cinerarias are sought after by every pest which infests the greenhouse. We need only say that by fumigation, sulphur, or by syringing with a suitable insecticide, the plants must be kept clean, or they cannot be healthy.
Daisy, Double.—The finest blooms are obtained from seedlings raised annually, and the general practice is to sow in the open ground during this month or July. When large enough transplant to good ground for blooming in the following season. The new Giant forms of the Double Daisy are of superb size, closely resembling finely shaped Asters in form.
Dianthus.—For a display next summer, sow in drills drawn six inches apart in an open situation, and cover the seed lightly with fine soil. Shade the spot until the plants show.
Geranium.—Sometimes a difficulty is experienced in bringing Geranium seedlings into flower. They possess so much initial vigour that the production of wood continues to the very end of the season. Plants which show signs of excessive growth should be put into the border without removing the pots. This check to the roots will throw the plants into luxuriant bloom.
Gladioli are very liable to injury by high wind, and stakes should be put to them in good time. Each plant may have a separate support, and this is the most perfect treatment; or the stakes may be at intervals, or at the ends of rows, connected by lengths of strong, soft material, to which intervening stems can be secured. The work should be done carefully, and if the flowers are intended for exhibition they must also be shaded by some means. This may be a cheap or a costly proceeding; but in whatever manner it is carried out, security is essential, or the whole bed may be ruined.
Hollyhock.—A sowing in the open ground will produce plants for wintering in the cold frame; and if generously treated, they will make a fine show in the following year.
Myosotis.—During this month sow Sutton's Pot Myosotis and bring forward in a cold frame for winter decoration, for which purpose this plant is rapidly increasing in favour. Seed of the hardy varieties may also be sown now or in July, choosing a shady spot in the open ground. Transplant when large enough.
Nicotiana.—To expose Tobacco plants before warm weather is established will give them a check from which they may not recover until the summer is half over, if they recover at all. Spare frames with movable lights will prepare them admirably and save labour. The second week of this month is generally warm enough for the planting. The seedlings must have a very rich soil, and abundance of water in dry weather. A heavy mulch of decayed manure will supply them with food and check evaporation.
Pansy.—From the end of May to the end of July seedlings may be raised in the open ground. Thin and transplant when ready.
Polyanthus to be sown from May to July on a shaded border. Thin the seedlings boldly, and bed the thinnings. Those raised early will flower next spring, but the later seedlings cannot be depended on for blooming in the first year.
Portulaca.—The weather may have been too cold and wet for sowing in May, or seed then sown may have failed; happily, there is yet ample time for raising this flower, in either beds or pots.
Primrose.—This fine old favourite may be grown from seed in various tints of yellow and almost any shade of colour from white to deep crimson; an effective blue has also been achieved. Primroses make beautiful pot and border flowers. Seed may be sown from May to July. Seed-pans can be used, or the sowing may be made in drills in the open. In the latter case, a free dressing of soot must be employed to render the spot distasteful to slugs. When transplanting, give the plants a deep retentive loam if possible, and a shady position.
Primula.—To insure a succession of flowers next spring, make another sowing as advised under May. Seedlings which are ready should be got into small pots, and afterwards they must be re-potted when necessary; but never shift them until the pots are full of roots, and always put them in firmly up to the collar.
Solanum.—The berried varieties may be grown entirely in pots, or they can be put into beds for the summer, from which they will lift for potting again just as the handsome berries are turning colour. The spiny-leaved varieties are valuable for sub-tropical gardening. Small plants are of little worth, hence they should be put into very rich soil, with a thick layer of manure on the surface, and have copious supplies of water to induce free growth.
Stock, Spring-flowering.—This valuable section, which includes the popular Brompton strain, usually comes into bloom in May and June. Seed is sometimes sown where the plants are to flower, but a certain degree of risk attends this mode of procedure, and Spring-flowering Stocks are so valuable that they are worth more careful treatment. Either now or in July sow in pans, and place them under shelter until the plants are an inch high; then stand them in the open for a week before planting out.
Stock, Winter-flowering.—For their refreshing colours and delightful perfume Stocks are highly prized during the winter months. To have them in flower at Christmas, seed of Christmas Pink or Beauty of Nice should be sown in June. It is usual to grow three or more plants in a pot, according to size. At the fall of the year place them in the conservatory or a cool greenhouse, and give assistance in the form of weak liquid manure as soon as the buds appear. Other suitable varieties, of which there are a number, may be sown in July or August for flowering indoors through the winter and spring months.
Wallflower.—If no seed was sown in May the task ought not to be neglected this month.
Zinnia.—The first week of June is about the right time to bed Zinnias, and there are three facts to be borne in mind concerning them. They do not transplant well, and therefore a showery day should, if possible, be selected for moving them. In the absence of rain, be liberal with water. They are very brittle, and should have a position somewhat sheltered from the full force of the wind; and as they revel in sunshine, the more roasting the season the finer will be the flowers.
Antirrhinum.—A sowing in drills during the present month or August will supply plants for flowering next year. Transfer direct from the seed-bed to the positions where they are intended to bloom.
Calceolaria.—If more plants are wanted, sow again. Among the seedlings which we left last month just as they had been pricked off, it will soon be evident that there is a wide difference between the strength of the plants. As a rule, the most robust are those in which yellow largely predominates. These make bright and showy decorative plants, but the colours that are especially valued by florists will probably come from the seedlings which are weakly in the early stage. Hence these should be specially prized, and under skilful management they may be grown into grand specimens. The thumb pots for Calceolarias need careful preparation with crocks covered with clean moss or vegetable fibre, and they must be filled with rich porous compost. Transfer the plants with extreme care, and place them in a sheltered part of the greenhouse or in a shaded frame, allowing free access of air on the leeward side. If aphis has to be dealt with—and it is very partial to Calceolarias—fumigation is the best remedy. Choose a quiet evening for the operation; on the following day carefully water the plants and shade them from the sun.
Campanula.—The perennial varieties may still be sown, either in pans or in the open. Give them a good light soil, and do not stint the supply of water.
Cyclamens which are forward enough should be shifted into 48-sized pots. Follow up the process until all are re-potted.
Lobelia.—In pots or pans sow seed of the perennial varieties to provide plants for the borders next year. Pot off singly when ready, and protect in a cold frame through the winter.
Mimulus sown in the open ground will flower in the following spring. If possible, make the seed-bed in a moist retentive soil and in a shaded situation.
Primula.—To force the growth of this plant is to ruin it. The most satisfactory results are invariably obtained from specimens which have matured slowly, and have been treated as nearly hardy after the seedling stage. From this month up to the middle of September it will be quite safe to expose them freely, day and night, except in inclement weather. Even in the winter protection is only needed from frost, damp, and keen winds.
Annuals and Biennials, Hardy.—In the majority of English gardens the spring display of bulbous flowers is too often followed by a dreary blank, which is almost unredeemed by a touch of colour, except that afforded by the late Tulips and a few other flowers which are relatively unimportant. The brilliance of the Crocuses, Hyacinths, and early Tulips serves to throw into relief the comparative barrenness which follows. And the contrast is rendered all the more striking by the cheerful spring days. It is at this juncture that annuals and biennials from summer or early autumn sowings light up the garden with welcome masses and bands of fresh and vivid colouring. They are then so valuable that it is surprising they are not more commonly grown, especially as the cost of seed is very trifling. Even the transitory character of some of them is an element in their favour, for they do not interfere with the summer bedding arrangements. Such flowers as Pansy and Viola, however, produce a long-continued show of bloom.
The following list contains the varieties which are best adapted for the purpose:—
Alyssum, Sweet Antirrhinum Asperula azurea setosa Calandrinia umbellata Calendula officinalis fl. pl. Candytuft Cheiranthus Allionii Chrysanthemum, Morning Star Chrysanthemum, Evening Star Chrysanthemum inodorum plenissimum Chrysanthemum segetum gr. Clarkia Collinsia Coreopsis Cornflower Erysimum Eschscholtzia Gilia tricolor Godetia Iceland Poppy Larkspur, dwarf rocket Leptosiphon Limnanthes Douglasii Linaria, pink Nemophila Nigella, Miss Jekyll Papaver glaucum Phacelia tanacetifolia Poppy, Shirley Saponaria calabrica Scabious Silene Sweet Sultan Venus' Looking-glass, purple Virginian Stock Viscaria Whitlavia
Sow thinly, not later than the middle of the month in cold districts, but September will be early enough in the Southern counties. Drills are preferable to broadcasting, because the beds are more easily weeded and kept in order. Thin the rows early, so that the plants may become stout and hard before winter overtakes them. Early in the new year transplanting must be resorted to during open weather if the plants are to be flowered in heavy soil; but on light, rich land, sow where they are intended to bloom.
Annuals under Glass.—The flowers available for winter and spring blooming are naturally few in number compared with those which fill gardens and conservatories during the summer months. But it is not generally realised that several favourite outdoor annuals are as serviceable for flowering under glass in the short days of the year as they are for growing in the open ground in summer, and they are the more valuable for winter and spring use as no elaborate system of cultivation is needed. Any greenhouse or conservatory from which frost can be excluded will grow these annuals well. Seed should be sown in August or September, in pots or pans placed in a cool house or frame. When the seedlings have made some progress, prick them off into the pots in which they are wanted to flower, and grow steadily on, bearing in mind always that the most important point is to keep the plants as hardy as possible by giving air at every favourable opportunity. The following varieties are especially suitable for winter and spring flowering under glass:—Alonsoa; The Star and Dunnettii varieties of Annual Chrysanthemum; Clarkia elegans; Dimorphotheca; Gypsophila elegans; Linaria; Nemesia Suttoni; Nicotiana, Miniature White and N. affinis; Phlox, Purity; Salpiglossis; and Swan River Daisy.
Asters for indoor decoration should now be lifted from beds or borders and potted. It is worth a little trouble to accomplish the task with the least possible injury or disturbance to the roots. Light soils should have a good soaking of water on the previous evening, to prevent the mould from crumbling away.
Carnation.—Seed may still be sown as advised in April; but to carry the plants safely through the winter it is necessary to have them strong before cold weather sets in.
Chionodoxa can be forced with the same ease as Roman Hyacinths. A 48-sized pot will accommodate several bulbs.
Cinerarias are frequently placed in the open during this month and September, and as it tends to impart a hardy constitution, the practice is to be commended. A north border under a wall will suit them, but the proximity of a hedge should be avoided. Before the plants are put out see that they are quite clean, or it may be necessary to restore them to the house in order to rid them of some troublesome pest.
Clarkia.—The varieties of the Elegans class make very handsome pot plants, and to insure the requisite number seed must be sown in well-drained pots during this month or early in September.
Cyclamen.—Where Cyclamens are extensively grown it is usual to make the first sowing in August, and many gardeners regard this as the most important period for securing healthy young seedlings. A common mistake with beginners is to raise them in too high a temperature. On this and other points useful suggestions will be found in the article commencing on page 256.
Dianthus.—Either now or a little later transfer seedlings to flowering quarters, and if possible put them into sandy loam in a sunny spot.
Freesia.—Few and simple are the conditions necessary to the well-being of this beautiful and delicately scented flower. The fine specimens to be seen occasionally in cottagers' windows in the Isle of Wight attest the ease with which it can be grown in a congenial atmosphere. The bulbs are exceedingly small in proportion to the flowers, and the rootlets are so fragile that potting on is to be avoided. A 48-sized pot will hold five or six bulbs, and the soil should consist largely of decaying vegetable fibre, such as peat, leaf-mould, and turfy loam. The pots can be stood in any sheltered position out of doors, under a covering of cocoa-nut fibre or other light material, until the foliage begins to grow.
Geranium.—A sowing in August will supply plants for flowering next summer, and the directions given in February are suitable, save that heat can now be dispensed with. These late seedlings will need more care to carry them through the winter than plants raised earlier in the year.
Gerbera.—These charming flowers make admirable subjects for the greenhouse and conservatory, and an excellent display may also be obtained outdoors if a sunny well-drained part of the garden be selected for the plants. August is the best month for sowing seed. Plants required for indoor blooming should be potted on as may become necessary. Those for the open ground must be thoroughly hardened off for planting out in the early summer of the succeeding year.
Hyacinths, Italian and Roman.—Obtain the bulbs as early as possible, and pot them promptly. Place them in any spare corner of the open ground, where they can be covered with cocoa-nut fibre or leaf-mould until the roots are formed. A child can grow these flowers; and they should be largely employed for bouquets and for indoor decoration during the dark winter days.
Mignonette.—For winter flowering sow in 48-or 32-sized pots, filled with light rich soil. Put the seed in little groups, thin to three or five plants in each pot, and give them the benefit of full daylight close to the glass. When flowering commences do not allow seed to form. If the spikes which have passed the heyday of perfection are cut off, the plants will break again and flower a second time.
Narcissi.—The first potting of early varieties is made this month as soon as the bulbs can be obtained.
Pelargonium.—The remarks under Geranium apply to this flower also.
Picotee.—Follow the instructions given for Carnation.
Schizanthus.—To do full justice to this flower seed should be sown now for plants to be kept through the winter in any house which is sufficiently warm to exclude frost.
Scilla praecox, or sibirica.—The treatment which suits Roman Hyacinths will answer for this bulb also, when required for flowering indoors. The two form an admirable harmony in blue and white.
Silene.—All the most useful varieties of Catchfly are hardy against cold, but not entirely so against damp. They possess a special value for their sparkling appearance in spring. Sow in light sandy soil, in which they will pass the winter safely. On a heavy loam the transplanting system must be resorted to in February or March.
Stock, Intermediate.—This section is valuable for indoor decoration in spring. No artificial heat is necessary to raise the seed; in fact, it is not wise to employ it. Either in this month or early in September sow the required number of pots and plunge them in ashes in a frame until March. Thin the seedlings to three in each pot. Before flowering, a rich top-dressing will be beneficial; and manure water—weak at first, but stronger by degrees—will intensify the colours.
Stock, Spring-flowering.—A bed prepared under trees or shrubs will afford some shelter from winter frost. Make it thoroughly rich, and in it plant the seedlings. Should the growth be very rapid in September, the plants will probably become too succulent to endure the stress of winter. If so, lift them and plant again on the same spot.
Sweet Pea.—The modern culture of this delightful flower includes deep trenching and the liberal use of manure. Those who intend to sow during September in the open must get the trenched ground into perfect order early in the present month. The details are important and are fully described in the article commencing on page 303.
Agapanthus taxes the soil severely, and must have ample nourishment in pots. It is also one of the thirstiest bulbs known, but is quite hardy, and will thrive in the open if planted in a deep rich loam at any time from September until March.
Alstroemeria.—Although related to the Ixia, this bulb may be trusted to the open ground in all but the coldest districts of the country. It is not suitable for pot culture, but in a dry border it may be allowed to remain undisturbed for years. Plant quite nine inches deep.
Amaryllis.—The proper time to commence operations with these superb flowers is during their season of rest, which ranges from September to March. Pot them in firm loam, enriched with leaf-mould, and containing a fair proportion of sand. Very little water is required until growth begins, and then it must be increased with the progress of the plant. Start them by plunging the pots in a temperature of about 65 deg., and when they are coming into bloom, remove to a warm greenhouse or conservatory. After the flowers have faded, allow the plants to complete their growth, and then slowly reduce them to a resting condition without permitting the bulbs at any time to become quite dry.
Anemone.—The tuberous varieties are valuable as pot plants, not only for their flowers, but also for the distinctive character of the foliage. The roots may be potted from now up to the end of the year, so that a succession of flowers can be easily insured. When plunged in a pit or frame to preserve them from frost, watering is all the attention they will need, but of this there must be plenty, particularly when the plants begin to flower. Pot the roots between one and two inches deep, in rich soil, and with the eyes upwards. A large pot will accommodate several roots.
Babiana.—Treat in the same manner as the Ixia.
Begonia, Tuberous-rooted.—Lift the plants which are in the open ground, and pot them to complete their season in the greenhouse; but if they are not wanted for this purpose, they may remain in the beds until October. When the stems fall, still retain the bulbs in their own pots, and store them in a dry cellar or shed, under a layer of cocoa-nut fibre. They need protection from both damp and cold. Neither hurry the drying off of the roots, nor attempt to force the growth in spring, but wait until they start naturally.
Calceolarias ought now to be in large 60-pots, placed close to the glass to insure a dwarf habit. During sharp weather they may be taken down, but should be restored immediately the danger is past. Much heat in winter will be injurious; a range of 45 deg. to 55 deg. should be considered the limits of variation in temperature. Pot the plants on as growth demands.
Crocus.—For indoor decoration, two or three separate lots should be potted at intervals of a fortnight; and the named varieties are worth this mode of treatment, both for the size of their flowers and for the exceptional brightness and diversity of their colours. Use a light rich soil, and put six to eight corms in a 48-sized pot. They may also be grown in quantity in large seed-pans or in shallow boxes. When coming into flower, the roots may be freed from soil to facilitate the packing into ornamental baskets or vases.
Crown Imperial.—This bulb requires a rich loamy soil and an open position to bring it to perfection. Still, it will flower satisfactorily in a shrubbery, or under the shade of trees; and, so far as the roots are concerned, there is no occasion to divide them more than once in three seasons. Plant during this month, and on to the beginning of November.
Cyclamens in pots will pay for an occasional dose of weak manure water. Shut the plants up in good time on chilly evenings. If a sowing of seed was not made last month it should be put in without delay.
The hardy varieties, such as C. europoeum and C. Coum, are cultivated out of doors; and in some of the warmer districts of the South of England the Persian varieties can also be successfully grown in the open. They are suitable for rockwork, or for little nooks and sheltered corners, in which some gardens abound. For their success good drainage, a warm position, and plenty of water in dry weather are essential. September and October are the best months for planting out.
Dog's-tooth Violet.—For small beds, or in front of a rockery, these compact and interesting little plants are valuable for spring flowering, and are worth cultivating for their foliage alone. They also succeed in pots, and thrive in peat, or in sandy loam and leaf-mould. A 48-sized pot will accommodate five bulbs.
Freesia.—Towards the end of the month these bulbs will be ready for removal to a cool greenhouse or cold pit. No heat is required—merely protection from frost and excessive moisture. The stems are so slender that support must be given early. As the plants do not bear re-potting, the danger of exhausted soil can be met by administering weak manure water occasionally.
Fritillarias belong to the same order as the Crown Imperial, and the conditions which suit that plant will answer for all the Fritillarias. The bulbs thrive in a deep loam, and they are quite hardy.
Gladiolus.—The potting of the early-flowering varieties should be commenced this month and continued according to requirements. As the corms of these Gladioli are small, several may be placed in a 32-sized pot. No great amount of heat is wanted for these flowers, a temperature of about 55 deg. being quite sufficient for them.
Gloxinia.—As the season of rest approaches, place the plants in any airy position, and gradually reduce the supply of water until the leaves fall off. The bulbs may be stored for the winter in peat or in dry moss. The majority of growers, however, never store a bulb, but rely entirely on seedlings raised annually.
Hyacinth.—To grow this flower successfully in glasses demands no horticultural skill, for children often produce very creditable specimens. It only requires the intelligent application of certain well-understood principles. Like all other bulbs, the Hyacinth should form its roots before top-growth begins. The flower is cultivated in water for two reasons: the pleasure derived from seeing the entire plant, and the decorative value insured by this mode of treating it. As darkness retards top-growth, but does not delay the production of roots, it is usual to place the glasses in a cool cellar; and if this happens to be airy as well as cool and dark, there is no better place in which to start the bulbs. Still, it must be admitted that darkness is not essential for the development of roots. But darkness and coolness alike tend to delay the growth of foliage until roots are formed. Therefore, if the cultivator resolves to have the plants in view from the commencement, he must place them in a low and uniform temperature. The water should always be pure and bright, although it must not quite touch the bulb, or the latter will rot. Wires to support the flowers are necessary, and those which are manufactured expressly for the purpose are both neat and effective. A rather low temperature, and free access of pure air, should be regarded as necessary conditions of health in all stages of growth. Hence it will be obvious that a mantelpiece, with its fluctuations of heat and cold, is a most unsuitable position for the glasses. We should like to add, that notwithstanding the high qualities of the Hyacinth, it is quite a cottager's flower.
For pot culture the Hyacinth is a grand subject. Prepare the pots carefully as to drainage, and fill them with a light, rich, porous compost. Remove a little soil from the central surface, and into this hollow lightly press the bulb, and press the soil somewhat firmly round it, leaving about half the bulb visible. If too much power is employed, the soil will be so compact that when the roots begin to grow, instead of penetrating, they will lift the bulb out of its proper position. There is always some risk of this, and it accounts for the practice of heaping over the pots a considerable weight of ashes. Of course this covering serves a second purpose in checking leaf-growth until the roots are established. Any cool and safe position will answer for storing the pots at this stage. For the earliest supply of flowers select single varieties, as these naturally come into bloom somewhat in advance of the doubles. When the tops begin to grow, remove the pots to a greenhouse or frame, and subdue the light for a brief period until the natural colour is gained. Thence transfer to the forcing-pit as requirements demand; and they will need a week or ten days to prepare them for use. It is easy to secure a continuous supply of Hyacinths from Christmas onwards by forcing successive batches of roots until the final display will come into flower without artificial assistance. To augment the beauty of the flowers employ as little heat as may be necessary, and defer the finishing temperature until the latest moment possible. For general decorative purposes, small pots will be found extremely convenient when a brilliant display is wanted in a limited compass; good specimens can be grown in the 48-size, but for exhibition the 32-size must be resorted to. Neither in pots nor in glasses should the bulbs be allowed to send up leaves from between the outer scales; these rob the central growth, and they should be carefully removed with a sharp knife.
Hyacinths, Italian and Roman, should be potted in successive batches to provide a continuous supply. When the roots are formed the pots may be removed to a pit or frame, and to the forcing temperature as the buds show. If they have been brought on gradually, a very few days in a warm pit or house will throw them into bloom. It is a source of astonishment to us that these flowers are not more extensively grown in private gardens. Immense numbers are annually consigned to the London markets, and find a ready sale for bouquets and table decoration. Of course these Hyacinths will not bear comparison with the splendid named varieties which come later, but the Italian and Roman classes are ready at a time when flowers are scarce and valuable. Like other bulbs of the same class, they may be shaken out of their own pots and transferred to ornamental contrivances.
Iris.—The tuberous varieties are all perfectly hardy, and may be planted at any time from August to December. Put into light soil three inches deep and nine inches apart they will give no trouble, except to lift and divide them every second or third season.
Ixia.—Babianas, Ixias, and Sparaxis may all be treated in precisely the same manner. In sheltered districts in the Southern counties they can be grown in the open ground; but otherwise the culture must be in pots under the shelter of a frame or greenhouse. A 48-sized pot will hold four or five bulbs, and they will thrive in any soil which contains a large proportion of sand. In spring they may be transferred to a sandy border, or they can be kept in pots for a couple of years when well managed.
Jonquil.—The treatment recommended for Narcissus will suit this highly perfumed flower, both for forcing and in the open ground.
Narcissus.—It is undesirable to hold these bulbs in a dry condition longer than is necessary, and those intended for pot culture should be got in promptly. A low temperature must be relied on for keeping back such as are intended to flower late. The Double Roman and the Paper White naturally come into bloom in advance of other sorts, and these should be selected for the earliest display. Give them a rich porous soil, and pot them rather firmly, but not so firmly as to render it impossible for the roots to penetrate, or the bulb will be raised above the soil. Place them in a cool spot, covered with suitable material to keep the bulbs in their places, and to prevent the foliage from starting prematurely. When top-growth commences, the pots must go into some house or frame where they can progress slowly until the moment arrives for forcing them. If the buds just show, about a week in a bottom heat of 65 deg. will suffice to bring them to perfection. A succession can be brought forward at intervals by the same means, until the final lot will flower without artificial aid. And for the comfort of those who do not possess heating apparatus, we may add that the flowers grown naturally will probably be finer than those which have been forced.
Narcissus may also be grown in glasses in the manner recommended for Hyacinths, or in bowls and other suitable receptacles filled with moss-fibre.
In the open ground Narcissus should be planted in quantity, especially in spots where it appears to be naturally at home, and one of the most charming effects is obtained by putting them in the rough grass adjoining shrubbery borders. Instead of cutting the grass, it must be allowed to throw up flower-heads, and this affords the bulbs time to mature in readiness for the following season. The many forms of Double and Single Daffodil are effective border flowers, and the numerous varieties of Narcissus should be grown in clumps and patches in every spot which is suitable and vacant. In the reserve border of many gardens large numbers of Pheasant's Eye and other Narcissus are planted to supply flowers for cutting. They are peculiarly valuable for the purpose, and if cut when scarcely ready they will develop in water, and last for many days. In planting, be guided as to distance by the size of the bulb, allowing four or five inches between small sorts, and six to nine inches for large varieties; depth, six to nine inches.
Oxalis.—Except in a few sheltered districts, it will be necessary to cultivate this exceedingly pretty flower in frames, or in a sunny, airy greenhouse. It may also be forced in the stove with success. Put several bulbs in a pot, and give them a light soil with plenty of sand in it.
Snowdrop.—It does not improve the roots of this exquisite little favourite to keep them out of the ground, and they should, if possible, be planted early.
Sparaxis needs the same treatment as advised for the Ixia.
Sweet Pea.—Exhibitors of Sweet Peas and those who endeavour to secure the finest sprays for decorative purposes, commence the preparation of the ground during the present month and incur whatever expense may be necessary to insure a deep bed of rich friable loam in which the roots can ramify freely. It is also the practice to sow seeds about the middle of September in order to provide sturdy well-rooted plants in readiness for transfer to the prepared plots in early spring. Either pots or boxes may be used, and a frame is sufficient to bring the seedlings safely through the winter. The method is dealt with in detail on page 305.
From mid-September to the end of October, according to the locality, is an excellent time for sowing Sweet Peas outdoors where the soil is light and the situation fairly warm. Plants from autumn-sown seed are generally more robust and produce finer flowers than those raised from seed sown in the open in spring.
Tropaeolum tuberosum.—In potting the tuberous varieties, insure efficient drainage, and use a compost of rich light loam mixed with sand. The foliage will trail over the sides of wire baskets with graceful effect, but it may be trained around balloon-shaped wires specially made for these flowers. The bulbs remain dormant all through the winter, and may be started at any time from September to March.
Tulip.—The early class of Tulips is of great value for forcing because of their brilliant colours and elegant forms. They take kindly to a high temperature, but forcing should not be commenced too early, nor should the heat be allowed to exceed 65 deg. at the finish. Plunging is the most satisfactory method. Several bulbs may be put into one pot, but it is more convenient to grow them singly, so that flowers in exactly the same stage of development may be selected for use at one time. A continuous supply may be secured by potting batches at short intervals. When in bloom the roots can be washed free from soil for placing in vases. Decayed turf, with decomposed cow-manure and a proportion of sand, make an excellent potting soil for Tulips, and it will be all the more suitable if laid up in a heap for twelve months after being mixed.
Anemone.—The tuberous-rooted Anemones may be planted in the open at any time from September to March, and from successive plantings a continuous display will be obtained from February until far into spring. For the choice named varieties it is customary for specialists to make elaborate preparations, into which we need not enter here. Splendid flowers can be grown in clumps and beds in ordinary gardens by deep digging, and the employment of a liberal dressing of decayed cow-manure. Plant the roots from four to six inches apart, and at a uniform depth of about three inches. In a heavy, retentive soil it is not advisable to risk a collection of named Anemones until January, unless a deep layer of light compost can be placed in the drills where the roots are to be planted.
Annuals, Hardy.—On light soils it will be safe to transplant these now; but on heavy land the risk is too great, and we advise waiting until February or March. Lift the plants with as much soil attached to the roots as possible.
Crocus.—Several flowers bloom in advance of, or as early as, the Crocus; but no other bulb of its own period can compare with it for brightness and effective colouring. Plant during this month and November, in groups and patterns wherever there is a vacant plot and bulbs can be found to fill it. Put them in at a uniform depth of about three inches. Drills are easy to draw, and are better for the bulbs than the objectionable plan of dibbling.
Cyclamen seed may be sown again this month. If properly grown, seedlings raised now will bloom splendidly next autumn.
Ferraria.—See Tigridia, page 379.
Gladiolus.—By the end of the month lift roots which have flowered, even if the stems are still green. Label them, and hang in an airy place to dry. A little later remove the foliage with a sharp knife. Then lay out the roots for about a fortnight, and when ready store them in paper bags or boxes placed on a dry shelf, secure from vermin.
Hollyhock.—In favoured districts and in light soil it will be safe to winter this plant in the open ground with merely the protection of a little dry litter. But in damp adhesive land it is perilous, and a cold frame will afford the requisite protection until May returns.
Hyacinth.—Considering the magnificent appearance of this flower, its culture is most simple. Any fairly good garden soil which is not too damp in winter will grow it; and the bulbs may be planted in clumps or beds in any design or arrangement of colour that taste may dictate. At six inches apart there will be a brilliant display, but the distance is quite optional. The crowns of the bulbs should not be less than four or more than six inches below the surface; the greater depth will slightly retard the flowering. When planted they will give no more trouble until the time arrives for lifting them to make room for other occupants.
Hyacinth, Feather, is an exceedingly beautiful border flower during May and early in June. The stems are from nine to fifteen inches high, and carry flowers whose petals are cut into slender filaments. It will grow in pots and in the open, in any soil which suits Hyacinths. Plant a good number in each group.
Hyacinth, Grape.—An interesting dark blue flower, which should be freely grown in mixed borders to bloom in April. Singly it is useless; plant good-sized clumps in soil which answers for bulbs.
Hyacinths, Miniature, are the delight of children, in whose honour many of the varieties are named. Except for their diminutive size, they are in all respects equal to their larger relations. The culture in pots, glasses, and beds is similar to that advised for the full-sized roots, save that the planting in open ground need not be quite so deep, three inches of soil over the crowns being sufficient.
Hyacinths, Italian and Roman.—Uncover the pots containing the earliest planting, and at first place them in a dimly lighted position. The application of heat will depend on the time the flowers are wanted; but when the plants are forward enough, plunge them in a temperature of 65 deg., and in about a week they will be ready for use.
Lachenalias rarely attain the proportions they are capable of for want of water in their growing state. They thrive in peat, and may be forced into flower at almost any season. Except in warm and sheltered gardens, they must not be planted in the open. Yet only sufficient warmth is required to keep frost at bay.
Leucojums are perfectly hardy bulbs which will grow in any garden. The flowers resemble Snowdrops, but are much larger. Plant in dense groups.
Narcissus.—From the natural characteristics of this bulb it is desirable that it should be planted early. Sometimes, however, it is impossible, consistently with other arrangements, either to pot or to plant Narcissus before October or November. In such cases it is consoling to know that from sound, well-ripened roots good flowers may be confidently anticipated, even from late plantings.
Ornithogalum.—In the open this bulb must have some protection during winter, to save its large fleshy roots from injury by frost. A heap of light manure or dry litter will answer the purpose. Plant six inches deep.
Scilla praecox can be grown almost anywhere, and in a light rich soil it blooms profusely. The bulbs will safely pass the severest winter in the open ground, and flower in February or March. The exact time depends on the climate and position. In sheltered spots and mild districts they will naturally bloom earlier than in bleak and exposed quarters. Plant in masses or lines, and the bulbs may remain undisturbed for years. A dense row makes an exceedingly beautiful background to Snowdrops. The other Scillas are equally hardy and valuable, and they all flower with great freedom.
Triteleia uniflora is a handsome white-flowering hardy bulb, which will grow freely in any garden. It is adapted for the company of any of the dwarf-growing bulbs, and may be employed in either lines or clumps. Plant the roots three inches apart and two inches deep.
Tuberoses are valued for the purity of their white flowers, and for the agreeable perfume they exhale. The bulbs may be potted singly or three in a pot. They thrive in a compost of loam and leaf-mould, and need a bottom heat ranging between 60 deg. and 70 deg. to bring them to perfection. The African bulbs are generally ready in September and the importations from America arrive in December and January.
Tulips may be planted in the open ground at any time during the month. We shall say nothing as to the arrangement of colours, nor as to the form of the beds, for both points admit of endless diversity. The mixed border may be enlivened with groups of many varieties, and if they are judiciously selected, there will be a succession of flowers for several weeks in the spring.