« AnteriorContinuar »
attended with some success, to cultivate the Victoria in the open air in tanks of water artificially heated, we must not claim the wonderful plant as a hardy subject in this country; and it is scarcely possible, even though, for the purposes of sensation, it may appear desirable, to cram the representatives of the genera of every clime into the cramped limits of our little but glorious isle. Our efforts in making such a universal omnium gatherum of plants would be only less ridiculous and dangerous than the like on the part of the zoologists with animals. It would undoubtedly be sensational to have the lion or the tiger pricking up one's senses by a growl or a spring from the hedge by the wayside ; but the beauty or the comfort of the thing would be questionable, at least to mortals of ordinary nerve. We have no need, however, to attempt naturalising the lions of the vegetation of the tropics, even though by artifice we could assure ourselves of success; there are plenty of the tamer but not less beautiful plants of temperate and northern climes, which, without either much trouble or expense, may be had for the various purposes that may be entertained in outdoor gardening in this country. Nuphar, scarcely less beautiful than Nymphæa, furnishes four or five hardy species of aquatics; and Nymphæa gives us about the same number, which may fairly vie with the most admired of the tropical species and varieties as seen in our stoves. These hardy Water-Lilies are very ornamental objects in lakes, ponds, and gently-running streams, and their culture is most simple. They are easily propagated by division in spring as growth commences, the only care necessary being to secure the plants to the position they are to occupy by some kind of anchor till they take root and fix themselves, which they quickly do. Seeds also may be used as soon as they are ripe; or, if the seeds have to be transported a distance, they should be put in small bottles of water, and kept cool. They are usually sown by being cast into the water where they are to grow; but a more certain way is to sow them in shallow pans or pots, and gently drop them into the water after they have been well wetted to prevent displacement of the seeds. The only care afterwards necessary is the prevention of injury by water-fowls or floods till the plants have made some growth, when they will care for themselves. No pricking off nor transplanting from the seed-pan is necessary in the method described; they quickly spread away from it, and root and extend freely in all directions.
Nuphar (Yellow Water-Lily).-In foliage and mode of growth this group does not differ essentially from the Nymphæas, but in the structure of the flowers there is an easily-recognised dis
tinction. In Nuphar, the parts of the flower-sepals, petals, stamens—are closely crowded on a raised fleshy disc surrounding the base of the seed-vessel ; while in Nymphæa they are more loosely arranged, and spring direct from the base and sides of the seed-vessel ; itself. There is, moreover, so far as I know, no hardy yellow-flowered Nymphæa, whereas all the hardy cultivated Nuphars are yellow-flowered.
N. advena (Stranger Yellow Water-Lily). The leaves are deeply heart-shaped, with widely-spreading lobes; the calyx is usually composed of six sepals. Flowers in July and August. Native of N. America.
N. Kalmiana (Canadian Yellow Water-Lily).-The leaves are deeply heart-shaped, with spreading lobes, and the calyx has usually only five sepals. Flowers in July and August. Native of Canada.
N. lutea (British Yellow Water-Lily).—Leaves larger than in either of the foregoing, deeply heart-shaped, with overlapping lobes. The calyx composed usually of five sepals. This is the best known of the Yellow Water-Lilies, being a native of our own country, but found also in Europe generally, and in northern and central Asia sparingly.
N. minima, syn. N. pumila (Smaller Yellow Water-Lily). This is regarded as a diminutive variety of the last species. It is found in some of the mountain-lochs in the N. of Scotland, and differs from the species only in respect of size, and would be found more suitable for shallow waters and the margins of deeper lakes.
Nymphæa (White Water-Lily).—The petals, being numerous, and inserted on the side of the seed-vessel in a freer manner, give the flowers a more graceful appearance than those of Nuphar have. Few objects are more graceful and interesting than well-cultivated Nymphæas, and our own British WaterLily is scarcely inferior to those of the tropics. It should be cultivated in every piece of water in the country, where ornament is an object.
N. alba (Common White Water-Lily).—This is our native species, and it enjoys rather a wide geographical range over Europe and central and northern Asia. The leaves are deeply heart-shaped, the lobes overlapping Flowers in June, July, and August.
N. nitida (Shining-leaved White Water-Lily).—The leaves are roundish-oval, heart-shaped ; the lobes open, deep, and spreading. Flowers in July and August. Native of Siberia. Not often seen in gardens in this country, but worthy of extensive favour.
N. odorata (Sweet White Water-Lily).—A North American species, of which I have no experience in the north, but which succeeds well along with other hardy Water-Lilies in southern counties. The leaves are round, deeply heart-shaped, with open spreading lobes. Flowers in July and August.
This order does not include many plants of much ornamental value. It is far more famous for its medicinal qualities than for floricultural importance, yet it includes not a few plants remarkable for producing large strikingly-showy flowers, some indeed imposingly brilliant, and handsomely-formed or interesting leaves. The flowers, however, in most cases, are of a somewhat fleeting character, but it should be stated that many of the best produce a very prolonged succession of bloom, which handsomely compensates for the brief duration of individual flowers. The larger number of the species are either annual or biennial plants, and do not therefore invite our attention at present; but some of the perennials are so distinctive and handsome in character, that, notwithstanding the short duration of the flowers, no really good collection of hardy perennial plants can be considered complete without a few of them in its ranks, and only a few of the best are here selected. As a rule, all the Papaveraceæ luxuriate best in light rich gritty loam ; but the soil should be well drained, whatever its texture or components may be. Propagation is effected by division in spring, or by seeds. The latter method, in the majority of cases, is the best, because, owing to the thick fleshy root-stock which most of the larger-growing Poppyworts form, division is not always a safe or successful process. Sow the seeds in March, in small pots, in a cold frame or in slight heat. Only two or three seeds may be sown in each pot. It is characteristic of the order generally that the plants at first make only a taproot, which, when ken-and it is not easily avoided in the process of pricking off, should it be necessary to resort to it-does not readily emit fibres or repair itself; it is better, therefore, to sow very thinly in small pots, and afterwards to thin away the weaker plants, leaving only one or two of the strongest to occupy the pot, and be potted on if necessary, before finally turning it out into the place it is to occupy in the open ground.
Chelidonium (Celandine). - This is one of the most free and continuous-flowering genera in the order. It is not of the most showy description, but is always interesting and pretty. It succeeds best in partial shade, and is useful for introducing into open woods and naturalising on shady banks where the vegetation is not of too encroaching a nature. Propagate by seeds in the open ground in March—the double form by division in spring, or both by the latter means.
C. majus (Larger Celandine).- It is not so much for the species in its normal form that this plant is selected, as for two varieties of it of more value than itself, floriculturally speaking. The one is C. m. flore-pleno, a double-flowered variety, differing only from the simple form of the species in that particular. It grows about 18 inches high, in soft rounded outline, producing pale-green pinnately-divided leaves. The flowers are numerous, consisting in the simple form of only two sepals and two petals, but in the double variety the petals are indefinitely increased. The other variety is C. m. variegata, and is distinguished from the species by having the foliage marked with creamy yellow. There is also a white-flowered variety, which may not be considered much of an acquisition where the others are cultivated, and there are a number of botanically interesting varieties, the species being of a variable nature. Flowers from April and May till October. Native of Britain.
Meconopsis. This is a very interesting and beautiful genus. The species are few in number, and, with the exception of the first of the two selected, are very rare plants in cultivation. They delight in a rich, light, sandy loam, and succeed best on rockwork in partial shade. Propagate by division or by seeds in spring : the latter method is the best, and most certain of keeping up stock, especially of the last of the selected species.
M. cambrica.—This species grows erect, about 1 foot high, with pinnate, pale-green, slightly hairy leaves on long stalks, the segments deeply cut. Flowers on long stalks, large, pale yellow. Flowers from June throughout the summer. It must have a good depth of soil on rockwork, but well drained, and be well supplied with moisture in the growing season. Native of western Europe, also Ireland, Wales, and western counties of England.
M. Wallichii, a species of grand interest and beauty. It grows erect, 3 or 4 feet high, the stems and leaves somewhat glaucous, and densely clothed with long rusty hairs. The lower leaves are 9 inches or a foot long, and stalked, but diminish in size, and ultimately become stalkless as they ascend the stem. Flowers large, pale blue, nodding on short stalks,
and arranged in long terminal leafy racemes. Flowers in July, and throughout the remainder of summer and early autumn. Native of Sikkim Himalaya. It is with some diffidence I recommend this grandest of Meconopsis as a hardy herbaceous perennial. Some eighteen or twenty years ago it was first introduced into this country, and flowered at Kew, but died immediately after. Once again, eight years subsequently, it was grown at Kew; and the stock raised from the imported seed was considerable, and was distributed among several botanic gardens in this country, a few being reserved for culture in the herbaceous department at Kew. Three or four of those reserved were cultivated under various treatment—in pots in a cold pit, in the open ground along with other Papaveraceæ, and in a small reserve ground attached to the herbaceous department, intersected with hedges; and here it was grown in pots plunged in the soil, and also planted out-shaded, and also exposed to the mid-day sun. The measure of success was greatest in the last-mentioned circumstances, and least in the pit. The plants in pots plunged in shade were by far the most vigorous, and flowered beautifully ; but in every case the plants began to show symptoms of decay as flowering ceased, and they ultimately died much in the way of biennial plants when their mission is fulfilled, and without leaving seed by which to make a fresh start the following season. I was not so fortunate as to hear the nature of the result at a few places to which the surplus plants were sent; but having heard nothing since of so interesting a plant, I am obliged to conclude that no greater success attended its culture elsewhere than that just described. Whether biennial or perennial, therefore, is a problem yet to be solved; but in either case it is a splendid and interesting plant.
Papaver (Poppy).—This group is a large one, consisting mainly of annual and biennial, and a few perennial species. A small selection of species only is needed to embrace the best and most distinct. The taller-growing species are best adapted for ornamenting the back lines of mixed borders and for planting among shrubs to give colour, in which latter position they produce a very fine effect. The dwarfer species are suitable and elegant ornaments for rockwork, or for the front lines of mixed borders in moderate shade—that is, their beauties are longer enjoyable in a somewhat shady position than in one fully exposed to the sun. They are propagated by division, and by seeds in spring.
P. alpinum (Alpine Poppy).—This is a beautiful dwarfgrowing species, producing handsome pinnately-divided leaves somewhat glaucous, and a profusion of leafless, roughly hairy