To illustrate the change of method still further we may instance the Cineraria. Formerly this was a troublesome plant to grow, because it was considered necessary to propagate named varieties by divisions and suckers. The restricted system was reflected in limited cultivation. Few were willing to venture on a task known to be hedged about with difficulties. By degrees it was discovered that the finest Cinerarias might be secured by simply sowing seed, and giving the plants the usual cultivation of tender annuals. This has brought the Cineraria within the reach of thousands who would not attempt to grow it under the old system, and the consequent gain to society is immense.
What has been done with the Cineraria has its parallel in quite a number of the most elegant decorative flowers. Brilliant results have been achieved with Begonias, Calceolarias, Cyclamens, Gloxinias, Primulas, and Schizanthus. It has also ceased to be needful to keep such large stocks of bedding and other plants through the winter, for Ageratums, Lobelias, and Pansies have proved amenable to the new treatment, and very much of the accustomed labour in striking and potting cuttings, as well as the expense of glass, fuel, and the frequent purchase of high-priced plants, have been rendered unnecessary. Even among the flowers which are properly designated annuals, new and delightful variations have been obtained from original types. Of these we have examples in Aster, Godetia, Larkspur, Mignonette, Phlox Drummondii, Poppy, Stock, Sweet Pea, and many others. In some instances the increase in the size of the flowers is remarkable, and in others the development of new tints will surprise those who are not familiar with the labours of modern hybridisers.
Thus a revolution has been accomplished in the economy and complexion of the English Flower Garden, a revolution which has reduced and simplified the gardener's labours, augmented the number and enhanced the beauty of many flowers, effected a marked saving in the cost of garden pleasures, and brought the culture of a large number of the most attractive subjects within the means of those who had neither the facilities nor the knowledge requisite for pursuing the florist's methods. There appear to be no limits to further progress. All that we can do is to experiment and gather knowledge, and those who love gardening may assist in extending the area of this new and cheap system of producing some of the most elegant garden flowers in one season from seed alone.
The time and the method of sowing flower seeds must in each case be regulated by considerations as to their nature. Seeds of tender plants are usually sown in pots or pans and placed on a moderate hot-bed or in a propagating house early in spring, and in this case the plants have greenhouse cultivation until the time arrives for hardening them off preparatory to final planting. But seeds of many hardy flowers may be treated in the same way, when a long season of growth is necessary for their development. Thus Phloxes, Verbenas, and Hollyhocks, plants that differ immensely in habit and constitution, may all be sown in February, and put side by side in the same warm pit or vinery, or even in the warmest corner of any greenhouse, and the very same treatment will suit them equally well. The soil should be principally loam and sand, with a little old thoroughly well-rotted manure from a hot-bed or compost heap; and light, air, and moisture must be regulated with a view to insure a free and vigorous growth from the first, with the least possible amount of artificial heat. In some cases, however, the sowing should be deferred to March or April, and the result will be far more satisfactory than the growth made under the stimulus of artificial heat earlier in the season. But in every case the plants must have sufficient time; for although the rapid system has been developed, the constitution of the plants remains unchanged, and those which have heretofore been classed as biennials and perennials need a long season when treated as annuals.
A considerable proportion of the finest flowers may be raised from seed by the aid of a frame and a little careful management. We will take as an example a very restricted garden. Here is a small frame and some packets of seed, and the month of February or March has arrived. The pans and pots are made ready with sweet sandy compost, and the seeds are sown and labelled, and the pans and pots are packed together in the frame on a bed of clean coal ashes, or some slates, or tiles, or bricks laid on the soil, to promote warmth and cleanliness and to prevent the intrusion of worms among the seeds. By simple management almost as quick a growth of seeds can be insured in this frame as with the aid of a hot-bed, and the secret consists in careful storage of the heat of the sun. Lay over the seed-pans sheets of glass to prevent evaporation, and let the sun shine full upon them. Be careful as to moisture: they must never be wet, never dry, and the water must not be slopped about carelessly. It is a good rule to immerse the pots or pans in a vessel containing soft water, slightly tepid. When the seedlings begin to appear, give a little air and lay sheets of paper tenderly over them during the hour or two at midday when the sun may be shining brightly. But keep them from the first as 'hard' as possible with plenty of light and air, always taking care that they are neither roasted, nor blown away by the cruel east wind, nor nipped at night by a killing frost. A few old mats or light loppings of trees laid over the frame from sundown to sunrise will be sufficient protection at those trying times; and when spring frosts are making havoc with the tender sprouting leaf and bloom in every part of the garden those little things will be safe under their glass cover, and slight experience will show that a common frame may become a miniature hot-house in the hands of one who has learned to make failure the stepping-stone to success. We must not omit to mention that the owner of such a garden, or, indeed, of any garden, will be prudent to take advantage of the first fine weather to sow in the open ground whatever flower or vegetable seeds should be sown at that season. The frame garden can be reserved, if needful, for wet weather, because it is of the utmost importance to sow a good breadth of seeds in the open ground as early as possible in the month of March.
Turning from this small example to the great garden, it will be obvious that to those who always have heavy work on hand the advantages of this transference, of labour from the old system to the new are immense. Both to employers and gardeners the advantages are of importance; the propagation of bedders by cuttings, and of florists' flowers by suckers and divisions and layers and pipings, will not, of course, be completely abolished; but for all ordinary purposes the ends in view may be accomplished more simply, more expeditiously, and more cheaply than heretofore. The pits hitherto appropriated to bedders, and the like, may to a great extent be liberated, and there will be no difficulty in finding for them more profitable occupants. While Mushrooms and early Potatoes and winter salads are in request, it will be a gain to many a garden to have reduced the summer display of flowers to a simple system of seed-sowing, at an expense that may be described as merely nominal.
Before dealing specifically with certain flowers, it may be advisable to say a few words generally concerning the culture of Annuals—Hardy, Half-hardy, and Tender—and also on hardy Biennials and Perennials.
Annuals.—Although the most popular kinds of annuals are largely employed in the embellishment of flower gardens, they are adapted for many uses to which they may with advantage be more frequently applied. A few misconceptions prevail as to the relative merits of this class of plants. By some they are regarded as 'weedy' and 'short-lived.' Their very cheapness, and the relatively small amount of skill required in their cultivation, tend in some degree to detract from their value in public estimation. We will not be so rash as to say that a more extended use of annuals would render unnecessary the cultivation of what are especially known as 'bedding plants'; but there is something to be said on behalf of annuals that may be worth the consideration of all who are interested in the development of freshness, variety, and richness of colour in the flower garden. In the first place, these plants come into flower within a comparatively short period of time from the sowing of the seed, and it is a matter of considerable importance that a large proportion of the best continue beautiful until the very close of the season. Sometimes in the autumn Geraniums become literally washed out, while Tom Thumb Nasturtiums may be ablaze with colour, and continue so when the Geraniums are housed for the winter. A large number of showy and long-lasting annuals are adapted for employment in bedding, and by a little management those that do not last the season out may be replaced by others for succession; thus affording the advantage of increased variety, and making no demand for glass and fuel to keep them through the winter as do the ordinary bedders. We have had great and glorious sheets of Candytufts, snow-white, rich crimson, and bright carmine; and when they began to wane they were removed, and the ground planted with Asters, and very soon there was another display, so fresh and bright and various that no greenhouse bedders could surpass them. Great hungry banks, that would have swallowed many pounds' worth of greenhouse plants to cover them, have been made delightfully gay at a very trifling cost by sowing upon them Tropaeolums, Tom Thumb Nasturtiums, Bartonia aurea, the dwarf varieties of Lupinus, Virginian Stock, Collinsia bicolor, Convolvuluses, Candytufts, Eschscholtzias, Poppies, and Clarkias; and damp, half-shady borders have been delicately tessellated by means of Forget-me-nots, Venus' Looking-glass, Pansies, the Rosy Oxalis, Nemophilas, Godetias, Silenes, Coreopsis, and Scabious.
For the more important positions in the flower garden we have choice of many really sumptuous subjects, such as Stocks, Asters, Balsams, Drummond's Phlox, Lobelias, the lovely new varieties of Antirrhinums, Dianthus, Portulacas, Zinnias, tall Stock-flowered Larkspurs, Nemesias, and many other flowers equally beautiful and lasting. We do not hope by these brief remarks to change the prevailing fashion—indeed, we have no particular wish that way—but we feel bound to observe that it is sufficient for the beauty of the garden that the greenhouse bedders should be confined to the parterre proper. It is waste of space and opportunity to place them in the borders everywhere, as is too commonly done. In sunny borders, annual and perennial herbaceous plants are far more appropriate.
Some time since, while walking over a large garden, we left the rich colouring of the geometric beds to discover what should make the wondrous glow of crimson on a border far away; and to our surprise it proved to be a clump of the Indian Pink, which had been sown as an annual with other annuals, and was there shining in the midst of a constellation of the loveliest flowers of all forms and hues, the result simply of sowing a few packets of seed. No one can despise the Wallflower in the spring, and the heavenly-blue flowers of Nemophila insignis in early summer will tempt many a one to walk in the garden who would care little for sheets of scarlet and yellow that in full sunshine make the eyes ache to look upon them. It must be remembered, too, that among annuals are found many most richly-scented flowers; others, like the everlastings and the grasses, are valuable to dry for winter use for employment in bouquets, and garlands in Christmas decorations; and the Sweet Peas, and Tropaeolum canariense, and climbing Convolvulus may be employed to cover arbours and trellises with the best effect possible, and may even be allowed to hang in festoons about the sunny parts of rockeries, or trail over the ground to make genuine bedding effects. Another important matter must have mention here, and we commend it to the consideration of gardeners who are severely taxed to secure extensive displays of flowers during the summer season. It is that a number of plants of highly ornamental character, usually treated as perennials, are really more effective, besides occasioning less labour to produce them, when cultivated as annuals. The Dianthus and its several splendid varieties do better as annuals than biennials. For all the ordinary purposes of display, Lobelias may be as well grown from seed as from cuttings, and in every garden will be found proof of the small amount of care they require; for we find stray, self-sown plants in pots of Geraniums and other places, and these, if left alone, become perfect bushes, and are a mass of flowers all the summer. Many annuals commonly reputed to be tender and usually raised in heat do very well indeed on a more rough and ready method. In proof of this, sow Perilla nankinensis in the first week of May where it is required, and in the month of July you will probably be convinced that Perilla does not always need careful nursing in heated houses through the spring. Even the really tender Castor-oil Plant will thrive if sown in the open ground the first week in May. Having no check, as plants put out from pots must have, the growth will be regular and sturdy, and attain magnificent dimensions.
Perhaps the most effective way of growing annuals is to arrange them in harmonious blendings or contrasts of colour. The wide choice of varieties available admits of an almost endless number of combinations, and the following tables, classified according to colour, will no doubt afford some serviceable suggestions, although these by no means exhaust the list. The height is indicated in feet and Climbers as 'Cl.'
WHITE, AND CREAM SHADES.
Chrysanthemum coronarium, Princess May ... ... ... 3 Chrysanthemum coronarium, Double white ... ... ... 3 Cornflower, White ... ... 3 Helichrysum, Silver Globe ... 3 Larkspur, Stock-flowered, White 3 Lavatera alba splendens ... ... 3 Poppy, Giant Double, White ... 3 " Giant Single, White ... 3 Scabious, Snowball ... ... 3 Chrysanthemum carinatum album 2-1/2 " Dunnetti, Double white ... ... ... ... 2-1/2 Nasturtium, Tall, Pearl ... ... Cl.
Clarkia elegans, Snowball ... 2 Lupinus Hartwegii, White ... 2 Malope, White ... ... ... 2 Poppy, White Swan ... ... 2 Shirley, Double White ... 2 Calendula pluvialis ... ... 1-1/2 Chrysanthemum inodorum plenissimum ... ... 1-1/2 Clarkia, Double White ... ... 1-1/2 Gilia nivalis ... ... ... 1-1/2 Gypsophila elegans ... ... 1-1/2 Hawkweed, White ... ... 1-1/2 " Silver ... ... 1-1/2 Jacobea, Double, White... ... 1-1/2 Sweet Sultan, Giant White ... 1-1/2 Chrysanthemum coronarium, Dwarf double white ... ... 1-1/4
Acroclinium, Single White ... 1 Candytuft, Improved White Spiral 1 Clarkia, Dwarf white ... ... 1 " Double dwarf white ... 1 Convolvulus minor, White ... 1 Eschscholtzia crocea alba ... 1 Godetia, Duchess of Albany ... 1 Layia elegans alba ... ... 1 Linaria, Snow-white ... ... 1 Nasturtium, Dwarf, Pearl ... 1 Platystemon californicus... ... 1 Viscaria, Pure White ... ... 1 Alyssum, Sweet ... ... ... 3/4 Chrysanthemum inodorum plenis- simum, Bridal Robe ... ... 3/4 Collinsia candidissima ... ... 3/4 Godetia, Dwarf White ... ... 3/4 Swan River Daisy, White ... 3/4 " " " Star White ... 3/4 Venus' Looking-glass, White ... 3/4 Venus' Navel-wort ... ... 3/4 Virginian Stock, White ... ... 3/4 Candytuft, Little Prince... ... 1/2 Nemophila insignis alba ... ... 1/2 Alyssum minimum ... ... 1/3 Silene, Dwarf White ... ... 1/3
YELLOW AND ORANGE SHADES.
Sunflower, Giant Yellow ... ... 10 " Primrose Perfection ... 6 " Miniature ... ... 4 " Stella ... ... ... 4 " Primrose Stella ... 4 Chrysanthemum coronarium, Double yellow ... ... ... 3 Chrysanthemum, Golden Queen ... 3 Coreopsis tinctoria ... ... 3 Helichrysum, Golden Globe ... 3 Sunflower, Dwarf Double ... 3 " Single Dwarf ... ... 3 Chrysanthemum Dunnettii, Double Golden ... ... ... 2-1/2 Marigold, African ... ... 2-1/2 Nasturtium, Ivy-leaved Golden Gem ... ... ... ... Cl. Nasturtium, Tall, Yellow ... Cl.
Hibiscus africanus major... ... 2 Bartonia aurea ... ... ... 1-1/2 Chrysanthemum, Star varieties ... 1-1/2 Coreopsis Drummondii ... ... 1-1/2 " coronata ... ... 1-1/2 Erysimum, Orange Gem ... ... 1-1/2 Hawkweed, Yellow ... ... 1-1/2 Leptosyne Stillmani ... ... 1-1/2 Lupinus Menziesii ... .. 1-1/2 Sweet Sultan, Yellow ... ... 1-1/2
Calendula, Orange King ... ... 1 " Lemon Queen ... 1 Cheiranthus Allionii ... ... 1 Chrysanthemum coronarium, Dwarf double yellow ... ... 1 Dimorphotheca aurantiaca ... 1 Eschscholtzia californica... ... 1 " crocea ... ... 1 " crocea fl. pl. ... 1 Layia elegans ... ... ... 1 Lupinus, Dwarf yellow ... ... 1 Nasturtium, Dwarf, Cloth of Gold 1 " " Yellow ... 1 Tagetes signata pumila ... ... 1
YELLOW AND ORANGE SHADES—continued.
Eschscholtzia, Mikado 3/4 " Mandarin 3/4 Linaria, Golden Gem 3/4 Marigold, Miniature lemon 3/4 " " orange 3/4 Eschscholtzia, Miniature Primrose 1/2 Limnanthes Douglasii 1/2 Sanvitalia procumbens, Single 1/2 " " Double 1/2 Leptosiphon aureus 1/4
BLUE, MAUVE, AND PURPLE SHADES.
Cornflower, Blue 3 Larkspur, Stock-flowered, Blue 3 " " Pale Mauve 3 Lupinus, Tall dark blue 3 Poppy, Giant Double, Mauve 3 Scabious, Mauve 3
Godetia, Double Mauve 2 Lupinus Hartwegii, Azure Blue 2 Poppy, Mauve Queen 2 Sweet Sultan, Purple 2 Xeranthemum superbissimum 2 " imperiale 2 Anchusa, Annual Blue 1-1/2 Gilia capitata 1-1/2 " tricolor 1-1/2 Jacobea, Double, Purple 1-1/2 Nigella, Miss Jekyll 1-1/2 Phacelia tanacetifolia 1-1/2 Salvia, Blue Beard 1-1/2 Sweet Sultan, Giant Delicate Mauve 1-1/2 " " Giant Mauve 1-1/2
Asperula azurea setosa 1 Candytuft, Lilac 1 Convolvulus minor, Dark blue 1 " " Sky-blue 1 Cornflower, King of Blue Bottles 1 Eutoca viscida 1 Linaria, Mauve 1 Lupinus, Dwarf rich blue 1 Mathiola bicornis 1 Phacelia congesta 1 Viscaria, Bright Blue 1 Whitlavia gloxinioides 1 Cornflower, Victoria, Dwarf blue 3/4 Leptosiphon androsaceus 3/4 Nigella, Double dwarf 3/4 Phacelia campanularia 3/4 Swan River Daisy, Blue 3/4 " " " Star Blue 3/4 Campanula attica 1/2 Nemophila insignis 1/2
PINK AND ROSE SHADES.
Cornflower, Pink 3 Larkspur, Stock-flowered, Rosy Scarlet 3 Lavatera rosea splendens 3 Lupinus mutabilis, Cream and Pink 3 Poppy, Giant Double, Chamois-rose 3 Scabious, Pink 3 Nasturtium, Salmon Queen Cl. " Rosy Queen Cl.
Clarkia elegans, Double Salmon 2 " " Double Delicate Pink 2 Godetia, Double Rose 2 Jacobea, Single, Bright Rose 2 Poppy, Pink Gem 2 " Cardinal, Salmon-pink 2 " Shirley, Single Rose-pink 2 " " Double Pink 2 Saponaria Vaccaria, Pink 2 Clarkia, Double Rose 1-1/2 Hawkweed, Pink 1-1/2 Jacobea, Double, Rose 1-1/2 Silene Armeria, Rose 1-1/2 Statice Suworowi 1-1/4
Acroclinium, Double rose 1 " Single rose 1 Convolvulus minor, Pink 1 Eschscholtzia, Frilled Pink 1 " Rosy Queen 1 " Rose cardinal 1 Gypsophila elegans, Delicate pink 1 Lupinus, Dwarf delicate pink 1 Nasturtium, Dwarf, Salmon Pink 1 " " caeruleum roseum 1 Silene, Double Salmon Pink 1 " " Delicate Pink 1 " Bonetti 1 " Pseudo-Atocion 1
PINK AND ROSE SHADES—continued.
Statice spicata 1 Viscaria, Delicate Pink 1 Cornflower, Victoria, Dwarf rose 3/4 Godetia, Dwarf Pink 3/4 " Satin-rose 3/4 Abronia umbellata 1/2 Candytuft, Dwarf Pink 1/2 Saponaria calabrica 1/2 Silene, Double Dwarf Delicate Pink 1/3 Silene, Double Dwarf Brilliant Rose 1/3 Silene, Bonetti, Dwarf Pink 1/3 Leptosiphon roseus 1/4
CRIMSON AND SCARLET SHADES, including Carmine and Ruby.
Coreopsis atrosanguinea 3 Helichrysum, Fireball 3 Poppy, Giant Double, Scarlet 3 Polygonum, Ruby Gem 2-1/2 Malope, Red 2 Nasturtium, Tall, Improved Lucifer Cl. Nasturtium, Tall, Black Prince Cl.
Chrysanthemum atrococcineum 2 Clarkia elegans, Salmon scarlet 2 " " Firefly 2 Godetia, Double Crimson 2 Poppy, Cardinal 2 Cacalia coccinea 1-1/2 Coreopsis cardaminifolia, Dwarf 1-1/2
Candytuft, Improved Carmine 1 " Dark crimson 1 Centranthus macrosiphon 1 Godetia, Crimson King 1 " Scarlet Queen 1 " Lady Albemarle 1 Linum grandifiorum rubrum 1 Nasturtium, Dwarf, Scarlet Queen 1 " " King Theodore 1 " King of Tom Thumbs 1 Viscaria cardinalis 1 Collomia coccinea 3/4 Coreopsis, Dwarf Crimson 3/4 Eschscholtzia, Ruby King 3/4 Godetia, Afterglow 3/4 " Lady Albemarle, dwarf 3/4 Saponaria, Scarlet Queen 1/2 Virginian Stock, Crimson King 1/2 Viscaria, Dwarf Carmine 1/2
Yet one other method of growing annuals calls for special mention. It is not fully recognised that a number of subjects, usually associated only with beds and borders, may also be flowered with the greatest ease under glass in winter and early spring. Those who have not hitherto attempted the culture of annuals in this way will be delighted with the charming effects produced. Among the subjects most suitable for the purpose are 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, one of the most lovely pot plants for the conservatory and of especial value for decorative work at Easter; Salpiglossis; and the pretty blue, Cineraria-like, Swan River Daisy. From the fact that these annuals are of the hardy or half-hardy types it will be readily understood that no great amount of heat is required to bring them to maturity; indeed, the more hardy the treatment the better for their well-doing. Seed should be sown during August or September in pots or pans placed in a cool frame, the seedlings being pricked off into other pots as soon as they have attained a suitable size. As colder weather approaches, transfer to the greenhouse or conservatory, and provided the night temperature is not allowed to fall below 45 deg. all should be well. During the day give the plants the maximum of air whenever weather permits.
Hardy Annuals.—The seeds should be sown on a carefully prepared surface from which large stones have been removed, and the clods must be broken, but the soil should not be made so smooth as to become pasty under rain. Sow thinly, in rows spaced to agree with the height of the plant, cover with a very slight coat of fine dry earth—the smallest seeds needing but a mere dusting to cover them—and, from the first, keep the plants thinned sufficiently to prevent overcrowding. Spring-sown annuals are worthy of a better soil than they usually have allotted them, and also of more careful treatment. It is not wise to sow earlier than March or later than the middle of April. In the after-culture the most important matter is to keep the clumps well thinned. Not only will the bloom of crowded plants be comparatively poor and brief, but by early and bold thinning the plants will become so robust, and cover such large spaces of ground with their ample leafage and well-developed flowers, as really to astonish people who think they know all about annuals, and who may have ventured after much ill-treatment to designate them 'fugacious and weedy.' Although the sowing of hardy annuals direct on to beds and borders where the plants are wanted is economical in labour and avoids the check which transplanting occasions, the practice of raising annuals on specially prepared seed-beds and pricking out the plants to blooming quarters is sometimes followed. The soil into which they are transferred for flowering should be deeply dug, thoroughly broken up, and, if at all poor, liberally manured. It is an excellent plan also to sow hardy annuals outdoors in autumn, but it is needless to say more on this subject here, as it is dealt with fully at page 313.
Half-hardy Annuals.—Give these as long a period of growth as possible to insure a vigorous plant before the season of flowering. The best time for sowing is February, or the beginning of March; for although some kinds may with advantage be sown earlier, it is safer, as a rule, to wait for sunshine and full daylight, so as to keep up a steady and continuous growth. The soil for the seed-pans should be rich and fine. Good loam, improved by the addition of thoroughly decayed manure and leaf-mould, with sufficient sand to render the texture porous, will suit all kinds of annuals that are sown in pans under glass. Sow the seed thinly, cover very slightly, and lay squares of glass over to keep a uniform degree of moisture without the necessity of watering. Should watering become necessary, take care to avoid washing the seeds out. If the pans or pots are stood in a vessel containing several inches depth of water until sufficient has been absorbed, there will be no occasion to pour water on the surface. A gentle heat is to be preferred; when germination is too rapid it tends to the production of weak plants. As soon as the young plants appear, remove the glasses and place the seed-pans in the fullest light, where air can be given without danger to them. A dry east wind blowing fiercely over them will prove a blast of death. If they have no air at all, they will be puny, rickety things, scarcely worth planting out. Choice varieties should be carefully pricked out into pans and pots as soon as large enough; this will promote a fine, stocky growth and a splendid development of flowers. Take care not to plant out until the weather is favourable, for any great check will undo all your work, and make starvelings of your nurslings. If you cannot command heat for half-hardy annuals, sow in the first week in April, put the pans in a frame facing south, and the seeds will soon grow and do well. If that is too much trouble, sow in the open border early in May, making the border rich and friable, that they may have a good chance from the first.
Tender Annuals.—These require the same general treatment as advised for half-hardy annuals. But it is desirable to sow in a stronger heat than is necessary for annuals that are to be planted out. It is also requisite to be in good time in pricking out the seedlings, for if they get much drawn they cannot make robust pot plants. A light, rich, perfectly sweet soil, containing a fair proportion of sharp sand, is necessary to insure plants worth having. It is also important to get them into separate small pots as soon as possible, and to shift them on to larger and larger pots, until they have sufficient pot room for flowering, after which shift no more. As soon as these pots are filled with roots, give very weak manure water constantly until the plants are in flower, and then discontinue it, using instead pure soft water only.
Hardy Biennials and Perennials.—These are often sown in pans or boxes, and are pricked off when large enough into other pans or pots before they are transferred to beds or borders. The system has certain advantages in insuring safety from vermin and proper attention, for it is an unfortunate fact that too many cultivators consider it needless to thin or transplant sowings made in beds or borders. The plants are frequently allowed to struggle for existence, and the result is feeble attenuated specimens which, with trifling care and attention, might have become robust and capable of producing a bountiful bloom in their season. Still, it should be clearly understood that all the hardy biennials and perennials may be grown to perfection by sowing on a suitable seed-bed in the open ground, protecting the spot from marauders of all kinds, and by early and fearless thinning or transplanting. As a rule, we advocate one shift before placing the plants in final positions.
Half-hardy greenhouse perennial
Handsome plants, two feet or more in height, can be produced from seed and flowered in a single season. They are useful for training to greenhouse walls, and they may also be transferred to open borders for the summer. When employed for the latter purpose, the plants should be lifted and put into pots about the end of August, after there has been a penetrating shower. In the absence of rain a soaking of water on the previous day will prevent the soil from falling away from the roots.
February and March are the right months for sowing seed, and for the pots any fairly light compost will answer. Prick off the seedlings when about an inch high, putting the plants in down to the seed-leaves. They must never be allowed to suffer for want of water, nor should they be starved in small pots. The growth had better not be hurried at any stage; the plants will then develop into shapely specimens with very little care.
Greenhouse or stove perennials
Although Achimenes can be propagated by division of the tubers, the simpler method of raising a supply from seed has become a common practice. During March or April sow in pots or pans, and while quite small transfer the seedlings to separate pots. It is important to insure free drainage, especially as frequent watering is a necessity while the plants are in active growth. Achimenes are generally kept in a high temperature; but they do not really need so much heat as Gloxinias, and in a warm greenhouse they can be flowered without the least difficulty. This is one of the finest subjects for growing in hanging-baskets.
These popular half-hardy flowers are not only valuable for a summer display in borders, but they make charming subjects for the conservatory in the spring months. For blooming outdoors seed may be sown in pans in March and the plants treated in the manner usual for half-hardy annuals, or a sowing can be made in the open towards the end of April. Plants for flowering indoors in April and May should be raised from seed sown in the preceding August and September. Grow on the seedlings steadily in pots, but do not force them in any way. In fact, the treatment should be as nearly hardy as possible, a night temperature of 45 deg. being generally sufficient to carry them through the winter.
The majority of the named varieties are expensive, and a very considerable saving is effected by raising plants from seed. Thanks to the skill of the hybridiser, the seedlings not only compare favourably with flowers grown from costly bulbs, but they have been successful in winning certificates and awards of merit.
The germination is so irregular that it is well to put only one seed in each small pot. The most suitable soil is a mixture of two parts loam and one of leaf-mould, with sufficient coarse grit to insure free drainage. The proper temperature is about 65 deg.. After the seedlings are established follow the treatment advised on page 340.
The Windflower. Hardy perennial
The discovery that it is easy to flower the popular St. Brigid and similar Anemones from seed in about seven months from the date of sowing has given a great impetus to the culture of this plant, especially as it possesses a high value for decorating vases, in addition to its usefulness in beds and borders. From seed sown in February or March the plants should begin to bloom in September or October of the same year, and continue to flower until the following June, when it is unprofitable to retain them longer. No coddling of any kind is necessary. Dig a trench in a sheltered, sunny spot, and fill it with rich soil freely mingled with decayed cow-manure. If the land happens to be somewhat tenacious, Anemones will take kindly to it, but it should be well worked, and it may be needful to add a little fine sandy compost at the top as a preparation for the seed. The woolly seed should be rubbed with sand, and the two may be sown together thinly in lines. As a finish the ground should be lightly beaten with the back of a spade. Germination is decidedly slow, so that until the seedlings appear the removal of weeds requires care. The plants should be thinned until they stand six inches apart. Seed may also be sown in June or July for plants to flower in the following year, and the results will probably be even more satisfactory than from the spring sowing.
Snapdragon. Hardy perennial
In bygone years Antirrhinums were seldom seen beyond the limits of old-fashioned cottage gardens. But even then the Snapdragon was a popular flower, and it was generally perpetuated by subdivision of the plants. Now, in common with a large number of perennials and biennials, the Antirrhinum is almost exclusively grown from seed. This altered method of culture has resulted in a marked advance in the size and colour of the spikes of bloom, and has also increased the vigour and floriferous character of the plants. In the process of raising, selecting and re-selecting the stocks, experts have found it possible to develop three distinct classes—Tall, Intermediate, and Dwarf—so that the value of the plant as an ornament in the garden has been advanced beyond the dreams of a former generation of gardeners. The Tall varieties attain a height of about three feet; the Intermediates generally range between twelve and eighteen inches, and the Dwarf or Tom Thumb section seldom exceeds six inches. All three classes have a distinct value for different positions in the garden.
Antirrhinums are not fastidious as to soil and may be relied on to give satisfaction in almost any spot chosen for them. Still, it must be admitted that they are conspicuously successful on dry soils and in sunny positions. This will account for the surprising displays occasionally seen on old walls and in large wild rockeries, where they are perfectly at home, apparently indifferent to the starving conditions in which their lot is cast.
The fact that the plant possesses such sturdy independence of character greatly enhances its value and usefulness. Nothing more handsome can be imagined in a border than the gigantic spikes of the Tall varieties, and they make a magnificent decoration for vases at a season when flowers suitable for cutting are much needed. The Intermediate Antirrhinums, like the Tall class, combine advantages for both bedding purposes and for cutting, perhaps in a still greater degree. The varieties are so numerous and charming that an enthusiast has suggested the desirability of devoting a garden to Antirrhinums alone. Although the Tom Thumb section is also frequently employed for bedding, these dwarf-growing varieties are better adapted for ribbon borders, or as an edging to carriage drives.
Antirrhinums may be grown as half-hardy annuals or as perennials, but the former is the simplest course for obtaining plants for summer bedding. Sow the seeds in pans or boxes from January to March, and prick off the seedlings as soon as large enough to handle. Grow on steadily and gradually harden off in readiness for planting out after the Wallflowers and other spring bedders have been removed. After flowering it will save trouble to consign the plants to the waste heap and again raise a sufficient supply to fill their places in the following spring. When grown as perennials, seed should be sown in July or August. Leave the plants in the seed-bed until ready for transfer to final positions. These will stand the winter and come into flower earlier than plants from spring-sown seed.
Columbine. Hardy perennial
Since the introduction of the long-spurred hybrid varieties the Aquilegia has become exceedingly popular. Like the Nasturtium, it is particularly accommodating in character, and will thrive on poor soil and amid surroundings altogether uncongenial to many other subjects. Several of the fine varieties which have been recently introduced are, however, worthy of a place in the best of borders. Sow in February or early in March in a frame, and plant out when strong enough, or sow in June in an open border. If the season is favourable, those sown early may bloom the first year; the remainder will flower in the year following.
Greenhouse foliage varieties. Half-hardy perennials
The finely laciniated foliage of A. plumosus is greatly prized for bouquets, and the plant invariably commands attention as a decorative subject on the table or in the conservatory. A. decumbens has long tremulous branches of elegant dark green foliage, and the plant is admirably adapted for hanging-baskets. A. Sprengeri is distinct from both, but is also very ornamental in baskets. Sow all three varieties in pans during February or March, in heat; prick off the seedlings immediately they are large enough to handle, and grow on in gentle heat until the beginning of June, when cool-house treatment will suit them.
Callistephus sinensis. Half-hardy annual
In high summer so many flowers are available that no difficulty arises in making a varied display. The real trouble is in discarding, especially for a limited area. But when summer begins to merge into autumn the choice is not so extensive, and among the annuals which then adorn the garden Asters are indispensable. This superb flower has been developed into many forms, and each class affords a wide range of magnificent colours. Yet it must be admitted that in the majority of gardens Asters are seldom grown in sufficient numbers, and it is not unusual to find the flowers small in size and poor in colour. In many cases we believe the reason to be that the culture of Asters is often commenced too late. Preparations should therefore be made in good time, and apart from providing the requisite number of plants for filling beds and borders, and for supplying cut blooms, others should be raised for flowering in pots. For indoor decoration full use is rarely ever made of Asters, although the colours include many delightful shades which may be employed with most telling effect.
To secure a long-continued display of bloom there must be several sowings, and the earliest will need the aid of artificial heat. One secret of successful culture is to give no check to the plant from its first appearance until the time of flowering; and a suitable bed must be prepared, whether the seed be sown on the spot or plants are transferred from other quarters.
Asters do not readily accommodate themselves to violent alternations of heat and cold, particularly in the early stage of growth, and therefore the most sheltered position in the garden should be chosen for them; but avoid a hedge or shrubbery, where strong growing trees rob the soil of its virtue. Begin the preparation of beds during the previous autumn by deep digging, and incorporate a liberal dressing of well-rotted manure as the work proceeds. On light and shallow soils it will do more harm than good to bring the raw subsoil to the surface, but the subsoil may with advantage be stirred and loosened by the fork, and if a little loamy clay can be worked into it the land will be permanently benefited.
A very stiff soil will, however, present greater difficulties; but if by free working it can be made sufficiently friable, Asters will revel in it, and produce flowers of a size and colour that will reward the cultivator for all his trouble. Throw the ground up roughly in October. The more it is exposed to the action of wind, snow and frost, the more thoroughly will the winter disintegrate its particles and render it fertile. Early in spring give another digging, and then work in a good supply of decayed manure, together with grit, charcoal, wood ashes, or other material that will help to render the soil rich and free. Aim at inducing the roots to go down deep for supplies—there will then be a cool moist bottom even in dry weather, and these conditions will do much toward the production of fine stocky plants capable of carrying an imposing display of flowers.
For sowings from the end of March to the middle of April prepare a compost consisting principally of decayed leaf-mould, with sufficient loam to render it firm, and sharp sand to secure drainage. Either pots or seed-pans may be used. Place these in a cool greenhouse, or in a Cucumber or Melon pit, or even on a half-spent hot-bed. Sow thinly; a thick sowing is very likely to damp off. Just hide the seed with finely sifted soil, and place sheets of glass at the top to prevent rapid evaporation. Give no water unless the soil becomes decidedly dry, and then it is better to immerse the pot or pan for half an hour than to apply water on the surface. When the plants attain the third leaf they can be pricked off into shallow boxes or round the edges of 3-1/2 inch pots. From these they either may have another shift singly into small pots, or may be transferred direct to blooming quarters. A high temperature is not requisite at any stage of growth, indeed it is distinctly injurious. From 55 deg. to 65 deg. is the extreme range, and the happy medium should, if possible, be maintained. Give air on every suitable occasion, and as the time for transferring to the open ground approaches, endeavour to approximate nearly to the outside temperature. The plants will then scarcely feel the removal.
Another and simpler proceeding produces fairly good results, and we describe it for the benefit of those whose resources may be small, or who do not care to adopt the more troublesome method. In some spot shaded from the sun make a heap of stable manure, rather larger than the light to be placed upon it. Level the top, and cover with four or five inches of rich soil. Place a frame upon it with the light a trifle open. When the thermometer indicates 60 deg., draw drills at six inches apart; sow the seed, and cover with a little sifted soil. The light had better not be quite closed, in case of a rise of temperature. As the plants thrive, gradually give more air, until, in April, the showers may be allowed to fall directly upon them in the daytime. When the Asters are about three inches high they will be quite ready for the open ground, and a showery day is favourable to the transfer. After the bed has served its purpose, the manure will be in capital condition for enriching the garden.
In the event of there being no frame to spare, drive a stake into each corner of the bed. Connect the tops of the stakes, about one foot from the surface of the bed, with four rods securely tied, and upon these place other rods, over and around which any protecting material at command may be used. With this simple contrivance it is quite possible to grow Asters in a satisfactory manner.
The finest Asters are frequently grown in the open air, entirely without the aid of artificial heat, and indeed without any special horticultural appliances. Those who possess the best possible resources will find additional advantage in resorting also to this mode of culture. It gives another string to the bow, and prolongs the season of flowering. For open-air sowings in April make the soil level and fine, and about the middle of that month draw drills three inches deep. In these place an inch of finely prepared rich soil, and if it is largely mixed with vegetable ashes, so much the better. The distance between the drills should be regulated by the variety. For tall-growing Asters twelve to fifteen inches between the rows will not be too much. Ten inches will suffice for the dwarfs. Sow the seed thinly and evenly, and cover carefully with fine soil. Commence early to thin the plants, always leaving the strongest, and arrange that they finally stand at from eight to fifteen inches apart according to the sort.
Keep the ground clean, and before the flowering stage is reached gently stir the surface, but not deep enough to injure the roots. An occasional application of weak manure water will be advantageous, but it must not be allowed to touch the foliage.
For tall varieties it may be needful to provide support. If so, place a neat stick on that side of the plant towards which it leans, as this takes the strain off the tying material, and saves the plant from being cut or half-strangled. In a dry season, and especially on light soils, there must be a bountiful supply of soft water, alternated every few days with the manure water already alluded to. Evening is the best time to apply it.
For show purposes rather more room is required than we have stated. Only about five buds should be matured by each plant, and these, of course, the finest. To prepare flowers for exhibition is in itself an art, and each cultivator must be guided by his own resources and experience.
Asters in pots make excellent decorative subjects. It is only necessary to lift them carefully from the borders with balls of earth surrounding the roots, and pot them just before the buds expand, or they may be potted up while in full flower without flagging.
The plants are liable to the attacks of aphis, both green and black. While under glass the pests can be destroyed by fumigation; but in the open a solution of some good insecticide may be administered with the syringe at intervals of about three days, until a clearance is effected. Other foes are the various grubs which attack plants at the collar. On the first sign of failing vigour, gently remove with a pointed stick the soil around the plant, and in doing this avoid any needless disturbance of the roots. Do not be satisfied until the enemy is destroyed.
In the early months of the year few subjects in the garden present so gay an appearance as Aubrietias, for with the first approach of genial weather the cushion-like plants burst into a mass of delightful blossom. For spring bedding, edgings, and the rock garden Aubrietias are indispensable, and they make a particularly effective show when grown in conjunction with Yellow Alyssum and White Arabis. Aubrietias are easily grown from seed sown in May and June. The plants are best raised in pans of light rich soil and may be put out in autumn where required to flower in the following spring.
Primula Auricula. Hardy perennial
Keen is the enthusiasm of the Auricula amateur. The only complaint we ever heard about the flower is that its most devoted admirer cannot endow it with perpetual youth and beauty.
It is well to bear in mind that seed from a worthless strain requires just as much attention as that which is saved with all a florist's skill from prize flowers. Some growers advocate sowing immediately the seed is ripe, but this intensifies the irregular germination that characterises seed of all the Primula species. Either February, March, or April may be chosen, and we give preference to the end of February. Use six-inch pots, and as there must be no doubt about drainage, nearly half-fill the pots with crocks, cover with a good layer of rough fibrous loam mingled with broken charcoal, and on the top a mixture of loam, decayed leaves, and sharp sand. Press the soil firmly down; sow thinly and regularly, putting the seeds in about half an inch apart; just cover them with fine soil, and place the pots in a cool frame or greenhouse, with sheets of glass over to prevent evaporation. Watering in the ordinary way is apt to wash out the seeds, and it is therefore advisable to immerse the pots in a vessel containing water until the soil has become saturated. Wait patiently for the plants. When they show four or six leaves, prick out into pans or boxes about two inches apart, and before the seedlings touch each other transfer to small pots. The surface soil in the pots may be lightly stirred occasionally to keep it free from moss. The plants must never be allowed to go dry, but as winter approaches water should be given more sparingly, and during sharp frosts it may be wise to withhold it entirely. There really is no need of artificial heat, for the Auricula is a mountaineer, and can endure both frost and snow. But we prize its beauty so highly that frames and greenhouses are properly employed for protecting it from wind, heavy rain, soot, dust, and all the unkind assaults of a lowland atmosphere, to which it is unaccustomed in a natural state. Still, the plants should be kept as nearly hardy as possible.
The Auricula is a slow-growing plant, and although there will probably be some flowers from seedlings in the second year, their value must not be judged until the following season. To the trained eye of the florist the Show Auriculas take precedence over the Alpine section; but for general usefulness the Alpines hold the first place. They may be fearlessly put into the open border, and especially the north border, where, with scarcely any care at all, they will endure the winter, and freely show their lovely flowers in spring.
Impatiens Balsamina. Half-hardy annual
The older methods of growing Balsams prescribed a false system, comprising disbudding, stopping, and other interferences with the natural growth of the plant. The rule of pinching back the leader to promote the growth of side shoots, and removing the flower buds to increase the size of the plants, was altogether vicious, because the natural growth is more elegant and effective. The finest flowers are produced on the main stem, and these are completely sacrificed by disbudding.
It is desirable to make two or three sowings of Balsam, say from the middle of March to the middle of May, the earlier sowings to be put on a sweet hot-bed, although March sowings will soon germinate in a frame, and the May sowing may be made in the open ground on a prepared bed. The soil at every stage should be rich and light, but not rank in any degree. Prick out the plants from the seed-pans directly the first rough leaves show, and soon after shift them again to encourage a stout dwarf habit. A sunny position should be chosen for the bed, in which they may be planted out about the first week of June, or earlier if the weather is particularly favourable. Heat, moisture, and a strong light favour a fine bloom, and, therefore, water must be given whenever dry weather prevails for any length of time. If kept sturdy while under glass, they will need no support of any kind, and although they are peculiarly fleshy in texture, it is seldom they are injured, even by a gale. When grown in pots throughout, the chief points are to shift them often in the early stages, to promote free growth in every reasonable way, and to cease shifting when they are in pots sufficiently large to sustain the strength of the plants. Generally speaking, eight-inch pots will suffice for very fine Balsams, but ten-inch pots may be used for plants from an early sowing. They will probably not show a flower-bud while increased pot room is allowed them; but as soon as their roots touch the sides of the pots the bloom will appear. It is occasionally the practice to lift plants from beds when pot Balsams are wanted. This method has the advantage of being the least troublesome, and as the plants need not be lifted until the flowers show, favourite colours can be chosen.
Begonia hybrida. Half-hardy perennial
One of the most remarkable achievements in modern horticulture is the splendid development of single and double Tuberous-rooted Begonias from the plant as first introduced from the Andes. Originally the flowers were small, imperfect in form, and deficient in range of colour. But experts were quick in apprehending the capabilities of this graceful plant, and it proved to be unusually amenable to the hybridiser's efforts. Now the large symmetrical blossoms of both single and double flowers challenge attention for beauty of form and an almost endless variation of tints peculiar to the Tuberous-rooted Begonia. The plants are conspicuous ornaments of the conservatory and greenhouse for several months, and experience has proved that they make unique bedders, enduring unfavourable conditions of weather which are fatal to many of the older bedding subjects.
From the best strains of seed it is easy, with a little patience, to raise a fine stock of plants, possessing the highest decorative qualities. Under generous treatment the seedlings from a January or February sowing come into bloom during July and August. The seed should be sown in well-drained pots containing a good compost at the bottom, with fine sandy loam on the surface, pressed down. Before sowing sprinkle the soil with water, and sow the seed evenly, barely covering it with fine earth. A temperature of about 65 deg. is suitable. Germination is both slow and irregular, and the plants must be pricked off into pans or small pots as fast as they become large enough to handle. This process should be followed up so long as seedlings appear and require transferring. They may be shifted on as the growth of the several plants may require. Begonias need more attention with reference to an even temperature during this stage than at any other period.
The merits of Begonias as bedding plants are now recognised in many gardens, and they deserve to be still more widely grown. It is wise to defer planting out until June. In the open ground they produce abundant supplies of flowers for cutting at the end of September and early in October, when many other flowers are over. The plants should be put out when they show themselves sufficiently strong, and it is better to be guided by the plants than by any fixed date. The beds must be freely enriched with well-rotted manure and decayed vegetable matter; it can scarcely be overdone, for Begonias are gross feeders.
The earliest plants to flower will often be retained in the greenhouse, as they follow in succession the Cinerarias and Calceolarias. Those that start later may be turned out as they come into bloom, which will probably be in June. By deferring the planting out until there is a show of bloom a selection of various shades of colour is possible, and this will greatly enhance the beauty of the beds. Begonias are hardier than is generally supposed; they need no protection, and require no heat, except in the stage of seedlings, when first forming their tubers.
For autumn decoration Begonias should be taken up from the beds during September and potted, when they will continue to bloom in the greenhouse or conservatory for a considerable time, and form a useful addition to the flowering plants of that period.
If not required for autumn decoration, let the plants remain out as long as may be safe; then pot off, and place in the greenhouse. Be careful not to hasten the drying of the bulbs. When the stems fall Begonias may be stored for their season of rest, allowing them to remain in the same pots. They can be put away in a dry cellar, or on the ground, covered up with sand, in any shed or frame where the bulbs will remain dry and be protected from frost. Both damp and cold are very injurious to them. The temperature during their season of rest should be kept as near 50 deg. as possible. When they show signs of growth in spring they must be put into small-sized pots, almost on the surface of the soil. As growth increases shift into larger sizes, inserting the bulb a little deeper each time until the crown is covered.
Begonia semperflorens. Half-hardy perennial
Fibrous-rooted Begonias are exceedingly valuable for either bedding in summer or greenhouse decoration during the autumn and winter. They produce a continual succession of flowers, rather small in size, but very useful for bouquets, and the plants are charming as table ornaments. The directions for sowing and after-treatment recommended for the Tuberous-rooted class will be suitable also for the Fibrous-rooted varieties, except that the latter must always be kept in a growing state, instead of being dried off at the end of the flowering season. Sow seed at the end of January or in February, and again at the beginning of March. Under fair treatment the first batch of plants will come into flower for bedding out in June.
Calceolaria hybrida. Greenhouse biennial
The present magnificent race of Herbaceous Calceolarias, both as to constitution and the beauty of its flowers, is the result of much cross-fertilisation of the finest types, so that the best strains are capable of affording ever-new surprise and delight. The superb collections exhibited in recent years, which have made lasting impressions on the public by their form and brilliancy of colour, have invariably been raised from seeds of selected varieties, saved on scientific principles that insure vigour, variety, and splendour in the progeny.
Calceolarias thrive under intelligent cool-house culture, but it must be clearly understood that in every stage of growth they are quick in resenting neglect or careless treatment. The work must be carried out with scrupulous attention, and the result will more than justify the labour. Extreme conditions of temperature are distinctly injurious, and the plants are especially susceptible to a parched, dry atmosphere.
May is early enough to commence operations, and July is the limit for sowing. As a rule, the June sowing will produce the quickest, strongest, and most robust plants.
The soil, whatever its composition, should be rich, firm, and, above all, porous. Press it well into the pots or pans, and make the surface slightly convex and quite smooth. A compost that has been properly prepared will not need water; but should water become needful, it must be given by partially submerging the pans. The seed is as fine as snuff, and requires delicate handling. It is easily lost or blown away, and therefore it is wise not to open the packet until perfectly ready to sow. Distribute the seed evenly and sift over it a mere dusting of fine earth. Place a sheet of glass upon each pot or pan, and the glass must be either turned or wiped daily. This not only checks rapid evaporation, but prevents the attacks of vermin. Germination is always slower on an open than on a close stage. Perhaps the best possible position is a moist shady part of a vinery, if care be taken when syringing the vines to prevent the spray from falling upon the seed-pans.
Under favourable circumstances, from seven to nine days will suffice to bring the seedlings up in force, and very few will appear afterwards. When they are through the soil remove the sheet of glass, and give them prompt attention, or they will rapidly damp off. Immediately the second leaf appears, tiny as the plants may be and difficult to handle, commence pricking them off into other pots prepared to receive them, for it is unsafe to wait until they become strong. Allow about two inches between the plants. The occupants of each pan may generally be pricked off in about three operations, and there should be only the shortest possible intervals between.
With many subjects it is a safe rule to use the robust seedlings and throw the weakly ones away. This practice will not do in the case of Calceolarias, or some of the most charming colours that can grace the conservatory or greenhouse will be lost. The strongest seedlings generally produce flowers in which yellow largely predominates, a fact that can easily be verified by keeping the plants under different numbers. But it must not be inferred that because the remainder are somewhat weaker at the outset they will not eventually make robust plants.
Freely mix silver sand with the potting mould, and raise the surface higher in the centre than at the edge of the pot. From the first appearance of the seedlings shading is of the utmost importance, for even a brief period of direct sunshine will certainly prove destructive. Do not allow the plants to become dry for a moment, but give frequent gentle sprinklings of water, and rain-water is preferable. As the soil hardens, stir the surface with a pointed stick, not too deep, and give water a few hours after. About a month of this treatment should find each plant in the possession of four or five leaves. Then prepare thumb pots with small crocks, cover the crocks with clean moss and fill with rich porous soil. To these transfer the plants with extreme care, lifting each one with as much soil adhering to the roots as a skilful hand can make them carry. Place them in a frame, or in the sheltered part of a greenhouse, quite free from dripping water. Always give air on suitable days, and on the leeward side of the house.
Keep a sharp look-out for aphis, to the attacks of which Calceolarias are peculiarly liable. Fumigation is the best remedy, and it should be undertaken in the evening; a still atmosphere renders the operation more certain. Water carefully on the following morning, and shade from the sun.
By September the plants should be in large 60-pots, and it is then quite time to begin the preparation for wintering. Some growers put them in heat, and are successful, but the heat must be very moderate, and even then we regard the practice as dangerous. Place the plants near the glass, and at one end of the house where they will obtain plenty of side light, as well as light from above. During severe frosts it may be well to draw them back or remove them to a shelf lower down and towards the centre of the house, but they must be restored as soon as possible to the fullest light obtainable, as they have to do all their growth under glass. The more air that can safely be given, the better, and dispense with fire-heat if a temperature of 45 deg. to 55 deg. can be maintained without it.
When growth commences in spring, which will generally be early in March, give each plant its final shift into eight-or ten-inch pots. This must be done before the buds push up, or there will be more foliage than flowers.
The following is the compost we advise: one bushel good yellow loam, half-bushel leaf-soil, one gallon silver sand, a pound of Sutton's A 1 Garden Manure, and a pint of soot, well mixed at least ten days before use. Any sourness in the soil will be fatal to flowering. The compost must be carefully 'firmed' into the pots, but no severe pressure should be employed, or the roots will not run freely.
Neglect as to temperature or humidity will have to be paid for in long joints, green fly, red spider, or in some other way. But there are no plants of high quality that grow more thriftily if protected from cold winds and kept perfectly clean. A light airy greenhouse is their proper place, and they must have ample headroom.
After the pots are filled with roots, not before, manure water may be administered until the flower-heads begin to show colour, when pure soft water only should be used. About a fortnight in advance of the full display the branches must be tied to supports. If skilfully managed the supports will not be visible.
It may be that a few large specimens are required. If so, shift the most promising plants into 6-size pots. These large Calceolarias will need regular supplies of liquid manure until the bloom is well up, and if the pots are efficiently drained and the plants in a thriving condition, a rather strong beverage will suit them. For all ordinary purposes, however, plants may be allowed to flower in eight-or ten-inch pots, and for these one shift after the winter is sufficient.
New Types of Calceolaria.—There are now available a number of hybrid half-hardy perennial varieties, of which C. profusa (Clibrani) is the most popular, that bear the same relation to the Large-flowered Calceolaria as the Star Cineraria does to the Florist's Cineraria. In point of size the blooms produced by these new types are smaller than those of the Large-flowered section, but the tall graceful sprays are extremely beautiful and of the greatest decorative value. Except that seed should be sown earlier (February and March are the proper months), the plants should receive precisely the same treatment as that already described for Herbaceous Calceolaria.
Calceolaria rugosa. Half-hardy perennial
Notwithstanding the ease with which cuttings of the Shrubby Calceolaria can be carried through a severe winter, there is a growing disposition to obtain the required number of plants from seed sown in February; and seedlings have the advantage of great variety of colour. A frame or greenhouse, and the most ordinary treatment, will suffice to insure a large stock of attractive healthy plants for the embellishment of beds and borders.
CAMPANULA and CANTERBURY BELL
Hardy annual, hardy biennial, and hardy perennial
Among the numerous and diverse forms in the order Campanulaceae are many flowers of great value in the garden, including Single, Double, and Cup and Saucer strains of the popular Canterbury Bell (C. medium). The impression that some Campanulas are shy growers and require exceptionally careful treatment may arise from the frail habit of certain varieties, or from the fact that some of them occasionally fail to bloom within twelve months from date of sowing. The idea is not worth a moment's consideration. In moderately rich, well-drained soil the finest Campanulas not only prove to be thoroughly hardy, but they are most graceful in herbaceous borders or beds, and they may also be used alone in bold clumps with splendid effect. For instance, the handsome Chimney Campanulas (C. pyramidalis and C. pyramidalis alba) frequently attain a height of six feet or more, and sturdy spikes occasionally measure eight and even ten feet from base to tip. Such specimens are magnificent ornaments in conservatories and corridors, and cannot fail to arrest attention at the back of herbaceous borders, or when used as isolated plants on lawns. When grown in pots use a light rich compost, taking care to insure perfect drainage. The plants must never be allowed to become dry, as this not only checks growth but renders them liable to attack by red spider or green fly. Another distinctive subject for the decoration of the conservatory is C. grandis, which may be described as a dwarf Chimney Campanula. The freely branching plants, covered with attractive flowers, also form a striking group when grown in the open border.
Altogether different in character is C. persicifolia grandiflora, or the Peach-leaved Bell-flower as it is sometimes called. This plant is lighter and more graceful than the Canterbury Bell. It throws up handsome stems, two feet high, clothed from the ground with lance-like leaves and elegant bells which quiver in the slightest breeze. An interesting plant is the Giant Harebell, a dainty flower on a slender stem, resembling the wild variety in form, but larger, richer in colour, and a more profuse bloomer. C. glomerata is one of the hardiest plants that can be grown in any garden, and the large close heads of deep blue bells have long been familiar in herbaceous borders. For its very fine glistening, deep blue, erect flowers, C. grandiflora is also a great favourite.
Campanulas were formerly propagated by division, but this treatment has created the impression that they are unworthy to be ranked among the perennials. From seed, the plants are extremely robust. C. persicifolia grandiflora resents division, which frequently results in weakened growth and a tendency, especially in poor or badly drained soil, to dwindle away. The only satisfactory method of growing Campanulas is to raise plants annually from good strains of seed. If sown in gentle heat early in the year—February is the usual month—many of the varieties flower the same season. When they are well started, plenty of light and air must be admitted. Unless intended for potting they should be planted out in good soil where they will require no more care than is bestowed on the borders generally. Seed can also be sown in the open ground from May to July; transplant in autumn for flowering in the following season. During hot weather, particularly on light soil, the plants need to be well watered, but in retentive ground thorough drainage must be insured. Should signs of debility appear, transplant to rich soil, where they will soon regain vigour.
A popular half-hardy Campanula is C. fragilis, of trailing habit. The starry pale blue flowers are seen to most advantage in hanging-baskets. The charm of these flowers is wholly lost if they are placed on a stage in the greenhouse; and they are not entirely satisfactory in a window where the light is transmitted through the petals, as this robs them of colour and substance. But hanging in a conservatory with plenty of air and space their slender drooping stems are very graceful, and the light reflected from the flowers does full justice to their beauty. Sow in pans during February or March and pot on as required.
All the foregoing are perennials, but two little hardy annual Campanulas are Attica and A. alba, growing about six inches high. They make useful foreground plants, and are quite at home in rock gardens. Sow in April on light soil.
The Canterbury Bell has already been alluded to; it is a charming hardy biennial forming a valuable feature of the mixed border. The large semi-double blooms of the Cup and Saucer class and the double varieties are modern introductions which have become extremely popular; the range of colours now includes the most delicate shades of pink, mauve, and blue, in addition to pure white. Seed may be sown from April to July. When the seedlings are large enough transplant them where required for flowering in the summer of the succeeding year. But Canterbury Bells are also interesting in the greenhouse during spring; for this work pot them in October and on to December. So treated, they bloom even more generously than in the garden. There can be no more beautiful adornment for a hall or large drawing-room than a well-placed group of the fine white flowers, backed by a mass of dark-foliaged plants.
Indian Shot. Half-hardy perennial
Cannas have ceased to be regarded simply as sub-tropical foliage plants, adapted only for the adornment of beds and borders. They have not lost their merits for this purpose, although in all probability the taller forms will be less grown than formerly, because the new dwarf varieties, which maintain a high standard of beauty in the foliage, include a diversity of rich tints previously unknown, and they possess the additional merit of producing flowers that have lifted the race into prominence as brilliant decorative subjects for the garden and the greenhouse.
The popular name is descriptive of the seed, which is almost spherical, black, and so hard that it has been used in the West Indies instead of shot. Hence it will occasion no surprise that the germs burst through the strong covering with difficulty, and that sometimes weeks elapse before the seedlings appear, one or two at a time. To facilitate germination some growers file the seed, others soak it until the skin becomes sufficiently soft to permit of the paring away of a small portion with a sharp knife. In either case caution must be exercised to avoid injuring the germ. A safer mode of attaining the object is to soak the seeds in water, placed in a greenhouse or stove, for about twenty-four hours before sowing. After soaking the seeds it is necessary to keep the soil constantly moist, or the germs will certainly suffer injury. The number of seeds sown should be recorded, so that it may be known when all are up. The first sowing should be made in January, in a temperature of about 75 deg., and as fast as the seedlings become ready transfer singly to small pots. As Cannas are gross feeders they must have a rich, porous compost, and an occasional dose of liquid manure will prove beneficial, especially when the pots are full of roots. If the seedlings from the January sowing are regularly potted on and properly managed they will begin to flower in June or July. Either the plants may be turned out into a rich soil, or the pots can be plunged, and after flowering in the open until late in autumn the plants can be lifted for another display of bloom in the greenhouse. In warm districts and in dry, sheltered situations, the roots may be left in the open ground all the winter under a covering of ashes; but they must be lifted from a damp, cold soil, and stored in a frame during the winter months. We have only mentioned January as the month for sowing, but seed may be put in up to midsummer, or even later, following the routine already indicated.
Dianthus Caryophyllus fl. pl. Hardy perennial
The Carnation belongs to the aristocracy of flowers and has attained the dignity of an exclusive exhibition. But in addition to their merits as show flowers, Carnations make conspicuous ornaments in the garden and the home, and it has been found that seed saved with skill from the finest varieties will produce plants yielding hundreds of flowers of which the grower need not feel ashamed. Since the introduction of the early-flowering class, which can easily be had in bloom within six months from date of sowing, an immense impetus has been given to the culture of Carnations from seed, and with judicious management it is not a difficult matter to insure a succession of these delightful subjects almost the year through. For the decoration of greenhouses and for providing cut flowers, seedling Carnations have a special value, which has only to be known to be universally appreciated. No trouble should be experienced with high-class seeds, which germinate freely and save much time and labour in comparison with the more tedious process of propagation; while an occasional new break may at times reward the raiser.
The proverb that what is worth doing is worth doing well is peculiarly exemplified in the cultivation of Carnations, the difference between the results of good and bad work being immense. We therefore advise the preparation of a compost consisting of about three parts of turfy loam, to one part each of cow-manure and sweet leaf-mould, with a small addition of fine grit. A compost that has been laid up for a year, according to the orthodox practice of florists, is very much to be desired; but it may be prepared off-hand if care be taken to have all the materials in a sweet, friable state, free from pastiness, and as far as possible free from vermin. By laying it in a heap, and turning two or three times, the vermin will be pretty well got rid of. Sow from April until August in 4-1/2 inch pots, which must be thoroughly drained. The seed must be very thinly covered, and sheets of glass should be laid over to check evaporation. Place the pots in a closed frame, or if the season be genial a sheltered border will suffice. Immediately the plants are large enough to handle, prick them off into seed-pans, or round the edge of 48-size pots. Place these in a cold pit or in the greenhouse. Give shade and water until the plants have formed six or eight leaves, and then choose a moist day for planting out.
To insure flowering plants in the following summer it is necessary to have them strong and robust before the winter sets in. As the blooming stems rise they must be carefully tied to tall sticks, stout enough to carry a cover for the bloom, if the plants are not flowered under glass. When the buds show they should be thinned, leaving as a rule the top, third, and fourth buds. The second is often too near the first, and some will not carry the fourth with vigour. When the petals nearly fill the calyx, each one must be carefully tied with a thin strip of material a little more than halfway down, to prevent the calyx from bursting, which disqualifies the flower for exhibition.
The early-flowering class is extremely valuable for the ease with which it can be grown. The seedlings offer the advantage of being far more floriferous than plants that have been propagated by the orthodox method, and they are quite immune from the disease which often decimates stocks raised from layers and cuttings. Two strains—Vanguard and Improved Marguerite—possess these characteristics in a very high degree. All the usual colours are included, and they not only make a very imposing display in the borders but are of great value for table decoration. Within about six months from the time seed is sown an admirable form of delightfully scented Carnation is at the command of every gardener, and a succession of these popular flowers is available long after the perennial varieties have ceased to bloom. Plants from seed sown in gentle heat in January or February will flower freely in the autumn of the same year, and if lifted and potted they will continue in bloom during the winter as ornaments of the greenhouse or conservatory. From another sowing in autumn there will be a display in the following spring.
Plumed Cockscomb. Greenhouse annual
The conditions which suit a liberally grown Cockscomb will produce long graceful plumes of Celosia plumosa, but the starving system will not answer with this plant. Sow in February or March, and by means of a steady heat, regular attention with water, and a rather moist atmosphere, the specimens should be grown without a check from beginning to end. When they reach the final pots an occasional dose of weak manure water will help them, both in size and colour, but it must be discontinued when the flowers begin to show their beauty. As a rule it will be found more easy to manage this plant on a moderate-sized hot-bed than in a greenhouse. Repotting should always be done in time to prevent the roots from growing through the bottom of the pots.
CELOSIA CRISTATA—see COCKSCOMB, page 254
Hardy perennial and hardy annual
The tedious method of propagating Begonias, Gloxinias, and Primulas by cuttings or layers has been replaced by the simpler and more satisfactory procedure of sowing seeds, which insures all the finest flowers in far greater variety than were obtained under the obsolete treatment. A similar revolution is now proceeding in the culture of Chrysanthemums. Many growers are relying entirely on seedlings raised from sowings early in the year for their autumn display. The culture of C. indicum from seed is as simple as that of Primulas or Stocks, and the variety and delicate charm of the seedlings far surpass the formal plants of years ago. Gardeners who require large numbers for decorative purposes may use seedling Chrysanthemums with excellent effect.
Seed should be sown in January or February, using a compost consisting of two parts leaf-soil to one part of loam. Place the pots or pans in a temperature of 65 deg. to 70 deg.. As soon as the seedlings appear they should be moved to a somewhat lower temperature—about 55 deg. to 60 deg.. When the young plants are large enough to handle, prick off into trays at about three inches apart, using a little more loam in the soil. The most convenient size for the purpose is fifteen inches long by nine inches wide and three inches deep. These trays produce a quicker root action than pots. After growth has started, place them in cold frames. Immediately the plants have made five or six leaves transfer singly to three-inch pots, and when nicely rooted they may be stopped once. About June shift into six-inch pots, adding a small quantity of coarse silver sand to the potting soil. Ten days later place them out of doors on a bed of ashes. Towards the end of July transfer to 9-1/2 inch pots for flowering, using soil of the composition already advised. Keep them standing on ashes or boards, if possible at the north side of a hedge or house. When thoroughly rooted a little manure water may be given once a week. In October stand the plants in a cool house, and in the first week of November move them to flowering quarters, keeping the temperature from 55 deg. to 60 deg..
If required for blooming in the open, prick the seedlings off as soon as they will bear handling, and in May have them planted out in final positions, giving a little protection at first. They will yield a profusion of bloom which will prove invaluable for decorative purposes throughout the autumn months.
The Perennial Chrysanthemums include the well-known Marguerite, or Ox-eye Daisy (C. leucanthemum), of which several new varieties have been introduced in recent years. Not only have these flowers been greatly improved in size and form, but there are now early-and late-flowering varieties which will give a succession of bloom from May until early autumn. The seed may be sown at any time from April to July on a carefully prepared bed of light fertile soil, and when the seedlings are large enough they should be transferred to permanent quarters for flowering in the following year. In the perennial border the plants make handsome specimens, and the long-stemmed flowers are also invaluable for vase decoration when cut.
Several of the Annual Chrysanthemums make superb displays in borders, especially when planted in large clumps, and they deserve to be grown extensively in odd corners to furnish a supply of charming flowers for bouquets and arrangement in vases. There is a considerable choice of colours, which come quite true, and the plants may be treated in all respects as hardy annuals. When grown in pots, the Star and Dunnettii varieties make most attractive subjects for the decoration of the greenhouse in winter and early spring. For this purpose seed should be sown in August and September.
The comparative ease with which the Cineraria can be well grown, together with the exceeding beauty and variety of its flowers, will always insure for it a high position in public favour. It is now so generally raised from seed that no other mode of culture need be alluded to. The plant is rapid in growth, very succulent, thirsty, requires generous feeding, and will not endure extremes of heat or cold. A compost of mellow turfy loam, either yellow or brown, with a fair addition of leaf-mould, will grow it to perfection. If leaf-mould cannot be obtained, turfy peat will make a fairly good substitute. Soil from an old Melon bed will also answer, with the addition of sharp grit such as the sifted sweepings from gravel walks; the disadvantage of a very rich soil is that it tends to the production of too much foliage.
The usual period for sowing is during the months of May and June, and, as a rule, the plants raised in May will be found the most valuable. A June sowing must not be expected to produce flowers until the following March or April. It is quite possible to have Cinerarias in bloom in November and December, and those who care for a display at that early period should sow in April.
Cinerarias grow so freely that it is not necessary to prick the seedlings off round the edges of pots or pans; but immediately the plants begin to make their second leaves, transfer direct to thumb pots, using rather coarse soil, and in doing this take care not to cover the hearts of the plants. Place the pots in a close frame; attend to shading, and sprinkle with soft water both morning and evening until well established. In the second week after potting, gradually diminish the heat and give more air. Too high a temperature, and even too much shade, will produce thin and weak leaf-stalks. If the plants are so crowded that they touch one another it will almost certainly be injurious, and render them an easy prey to some of their numerous enemies. It is far better to grow a few really fine specimens that will produce a handsome display of superb flowers, than to attempt a large number of feeble plants that will prove a constant source of trouble, and in the end yield but a poor return in bloom. Endeavour to grow them as nearly hardy as the season will allow, even admitting the night air freely on suitable occasions. Immediately the thumb pots are filled with roots, shift to a larger size, and it is important that this operation should not be delayed a day too long. To the practised eye the alteration of the colour of the leaves to a pale green is a sufficient intimation that starvation has commenced, and that prompt action is necessary to save the plants. It is the custom of some growers to transfer at once to the size in which they are intended to bloom. There is, however, some danger to the inexperienced in over-potting, and therefore one intermediate shift is advisable. As a rule 32-size pots are large enough, but the 24-or even the 16-size is allowable when very fine specimens are required. The seedlings should be in their final pots not later than the end of November.