Imagens das páginas

years as a dwarf bedding plant, and most conflicting reports have been made regarding it. When it is successful, there can be but one opinion as to its merits. It is very beautiful, but it is successful as a massing or edging plant only in moist soil and seasons. There are several varieties of greater or less pretensions for being improvements on the normal form, but chiefly marked by different shades of the purplish colour of the original. The best that has appeared is the one named “Perfection," a very distinct and handsome plant with large Pansylike flowers of a bright purplish-blue, yellow-eyed, and more strongly fragrant than the reputed parent; but it has so little in common with cornuta beyond the horn, that there are grounds for questioning the alleged parentage. It is as unlike cornuta in its power of resistance of drought as in most other particulars. During this excessively droughty season (1870) it has looked fresh and bloomed profusely, while cornuta has been “done brown” for weeks. Cornuta is a native of the Pyrenees.

V. lutea (Yellow Mountain-Violet).—This is another unsuccessful candidate for parterre honours of recent introduction. It is a native of mountain-pastures in Wales and the north of England and west of Scotland. It grows in rather a straggling manner, rising 3 or 4 inches high, with weak stems and small oblong egg-shaped leaves. The flowers are bright yellow, with a few black lines radiating from the centre on the lower petals. Although it succeeds better in the majority of dry soils and aspects than V. cornuta, yet it is not so floriferous as that species, and has disappointed many in the expectations raised regarding its adaptability to summer bedding-out when first introduced for that purpose. It is a pretty little gem, creeping over rockwork, or in the front line of a partially-shaded moist mixed border; but in bright blazing parterres it is eclipsed, and very often burnt up, and does not supply effectively the much-desiderated dwarf bright yellow edging plant. The variety grandiflora has, as its name implies, larger flowers than the ordinary form, and is somewhat of an improvement

also in the matter of habit, being slightly more vigorous. Flowers continuously from May till September.

V. odorata (Sweet-Violet). It would be superfluous to describe this universally known and cherished plant. In one or more of its varieties it is to be seen in every garden, large or small; all love it—and well they may—for its modest beauty and sweetness are unrivalled. The immense demand for it about the large cities, such as London, Manchester, and Liverpool, throughout the spring, has rendered its culture a profit

able branch of market-gardening, and acres of Violets are to be met with in the neighbourhood of such places : and the gardener in private establishments must have a long season of Violets by whatever means, or he fails to please the ladies by a good many points ; for Violets, in season and out of season, are indispensable in many establishments. The Sweet-Violet is a British plant, common in many parts in hedgerows, open woods, and pastures, and very generally affecting clayey districts; while in many widespread parts, where the soil is gravelly, or hot and dry, it is rarely if ever seen.

The plant, in fact, prefers moderate shade and considerable moisture, and strong rich loam to grow in; and the nearer we can attain to these conditions in cultivation, the greater will be our success.

Many have written on the culture of the Violet, and the writers have by no means been harmonious in the practice they inculcated, though each has stoutly enough maintained that his, and his only, was correct and likely to be attended with success -as indeed it may really have been in his circumstances, but not therefore the best for one differently situated as regards climate, soil, and choice of aspect. A moderately heavy rich soil is that in which they thrive best, and sustain the most continuous and abundant bloom ; and if the natural soil is in any point short of this, the best means at command should be adopted to bring it up to the desired condition. If it is light and gravelly, clay and manure should be added to it, in requisite quantity; or if a poor hard clay, sharp gritty matter, with no stint of old manure, would be the proper correctives. As regards the aspect of the spot on which they are to be grown, it is a point of some importance, especially if no natural means of affording the plants a little shade are available. Whether it is open to the east, the west, or the south, is of less importance than the necessity of placing them where they will enjoy slight shade either in the morning or afternoon. My own experience is most favourable to placing them on a west border, where they will be sheltered from the rays of the sun during the earlier hours of the day. It is well, however, to have the stock designed to bloom out of doors growing in different aspects, as by that means there will be less danger, in exceptional seasons, of total failure. A very important point in their culture, by the practice of which I have always been rewarded with good results, is to lift and divide the plants annually, cutting away all old and weak crowns and runners, and trimming the roots, trenching and manuring the ground, and replanting them. The best time for doing this is immediately after the flowers are over, about the middle or end of April or the beginning of

May. It is bad practice to leave them undisturbed for several years in the same place; the ground becomes exhausted, and the plants too; and it is always difficult, often impossible, to get a vigorous stock from plants so treated. The Neapolitan, a more tender variety of the Sweet-Violet, is best adapted for culture in pots, to be sheltered in cold frames, in a sunny airy place in winter, or forced according to requirements. These may be grown planted out in rich ground in the same way as the others till September, when they may be lifted and potted or planted in frames closely, and afterwards merely protected from severe frost, and kept well aired in all open weather. Of course, if they are intended to be placed about rooms, they must be put in pots at the time they are removed from the open air, and they may be forced in mild bottom-heat with much more convenience if the plants are in pots than if they are planted out in frames. All the varieties are easily increased by cuttings made of the stout short runners, rejecting all that are wiry and hard; and they should not be taken off plants that have been forced, as these are deficient in vigour. Plant them in rich, fibrous, very sandy soil, in a frame facing northwards; keep them close till they begin to grow, then give air, a little at first, gradually increasing it till the lights may be dispensed with wholly till the return of winter, when they will require to be put on, and the plants protected during frost. In the beginning of April they must be planted out, and everything possible done to encourage vigorous growth, on which depend the quality and quantity of bloom more than anything else. Some raise their stock from seeds sown annually; and it is a good plan, but more troublesome in the matter of attention, and requiring more labour, than either division or cuttings, while the result in bloom is nothing superior. Among the varieties of Sweet-Violets, the Czar, the King, and Giant are the largest flowers and stoutest stalks, and are consequently best for cutting ; but I have not found either superior to the common Russia, in single or double flowers, for continuous and sustained bloom, while nothing surpasses the Neapolitan for forcing

V. palmata (Palmate-leaved Violet).—This is a very rare plant in gardens, and a very distinct species. It grows about 6 inches high, in rather tufted fashion, with palmated or fivelobed coarsely-toothed hairy leaves, and rather large purple flowers on stout short stalks. Native of North America. Best adapted for culture on rockwork, in deep rich gritty loam, in shade. Flowers in late spring and early summer.

V. pedata (Birdfoot Violet). — This is related to the last, but

is even a finer species, and about as rare. It grows about the same height, and is very compact and neat in its style. The leaves are cut into seven narrow lobes, the basal and the central ones usually deeply notched. The flowers are large, dark blue, carried well above the leaves on stout stalks. Best adapted for rockwork decoration in deep moist sandy soil, in shade. Native of North America. Flowers in late spring and early summer.

V. pennata (Feather-leaved Violet).- This is a south European species, with much of the habit of the two preceding. The leaves are broadly ovate in outline, and divided almost to the midrib, giving the appearance of a broadly-pinnate leaf, and the divisions are notched at the point. The flowers are smaller than in either of the two preceding, nor are they thrown so high above the foliage, but they are rich dark violet, and in this respect they are superior to those of the others. It requires the same treatment in cultivation, and is adapted to the same purposes as palmata and pedata, and flowers about the same time.

V. pyrolæfolia, syn. Viola lutea (Winter green-leaved Violet). -This is a Patagonian species, and one of the handsomest of the family. It grows in tufted masses, producing bluntly-eggshaped leaves with a heart-shaped base, toothed and hispid, as is every part of the plant outside the corolla, and inside also it is somewhat bearded. The flowers are large, bright yellow, on slender stalks, but raised considerably above the foliage; the lower petal is beautifully pencilled with narrow dark-red lines. Suitable only for warm partially-shaded positions on rockwork or for pot-culture, and delights most in rich fibrous loam with a good allowance of grit in it.

V. tricolor (Pansy or Heart's-ease).—The garden varieties of the Pansy are so familiar, and so much admired by everybody, that they scarce require praise or description; the mere mention of their name is sufficient recommendation. It is less of the finer florists’ varieties or show sorts that I would speak, than of the Fancy or Belgian and bedding ones. They will be found most useful for planting in the front line of the mixed border and on rockwork. The Fancies bloom very freely and for a long period if the soil is moist and rich; and they present most novel and pretty colours and unions of colours. But for continuity of bloom and general decorative usefulness and hardiness all kinds of Pansies are eclipsed by the bedding sorts. The Cliveden blue and yellow were the first of the race to which general attention was drawn, but they are now rapidly increasing in numbers and in improvement, and no doubt will

continue to do so for some time. The Pansy delights in strong rich loam with a little sand in it, and is most sustained in its bloom when shaded for some part of the day, and copious moisture can hardly be overdone in the growing season. tricolor is a native of Britain, and it is the reputed parent of all the races of Heart's-ease. Other European species, there are good grounds for believing, have had something to do with the origin of these favourite flowers; but in the mixed and confused condition of the cultivated varieties now, it is impossible to determine with any accuracy their parentage, but the probability is that tricolor and altaicá give rise to the Pansies between them.

The few species described above do not nearly exhaust the list of plants valuable for ornamental purposes comprised in the group: They are only a few of the best, and the following list contains others well worthy of cultivation in larger collections: V. alpina, 4 to 6 inches, dark purple; V. amena, 4 inches, dark purple; V. biflora, 4 inches, yellow, in pairs interesting and pretty ; V. blanda, 6 inches, white; V. canadensis, 6 to 8 inches, pale blue; V. cucullata, 6 inches, dark blue ; V. palmensis, 4 inches, blue and white; V. striata, 6 inches, blue and white.


Polygala (Milkwort) is the only genus in this order that furnishes species capable of being cultivated in borders or on rockwork in this country. Of Polygalas there are only three with which I am acquainted in cultivation. They may be cultivated on rockwork or in the mixed border in the front lines, succeeding best in light rich loam or loam and leaf-mould. Propagate by division.

Polygala chamæbuxus (Bastard-Box Milkwort). This is a neat and pretty prostrate shrub, with small leathery egg-shaped leaves and numerous fragrant flowers superficially resembling those of some of the pea-flowers, the wings being pale lemon or cream-coloured, and the keel bright yellow. A pretty and interesting plant in rockwork or the front lines of mixed borders, flowering in May, June, and July. Native of the Swiss and Austrian Alps.

P. paucifolia (Naked-stemmed Milkwort).-This pretty plant is very rare in gardens. It is a native of North America, grows from 4 to 6 inches high, with stems quite naked below, with a

« AnteriorContinuar »