Imagens das páginas

few small egg-shaped leaves at the top, whence spring the three comparatively large purple flowers with bearded keels which make up the inflorescence. Best adapted for culture on rockwork in sandy peat and loam, or where the soil is congenial it may also be grown in the mixed border. Flowers throughout the summer.

P. vulgaris (Common Milkwort).—This pretty little British plant is very variable in size and colour and all the parts of the plant, and has in consequence been divided into several species from British variations alone. The general appearance of the plant is tufted, or diffuse and weak, with numerous small eggshaped or lanceolate dark-green leaves, and handsome terminal racemes of small flowers, blue, purple, pink, or white, in various shades, and the lower petal or keel having a tiny beard at its tip. It does best on rockwork left very much to itself, although it succeeds very fairly in the front lines of the mixed border in sandy loam and peat.


The glory of this rather extensive natural order is Dianthus, one of the most beautiful and fragrant of herbaceous genera, furnishing as it does the various Pinks, Carnations, and Sweetwilliams, and many more simple and less pretentious, but not less beautiful and elegant species, generally rare in gardens, but deserving a place in every collection of herbaceous and alpine plants. But besides Dianthus there are other genera, varying much in ornamental features from it, among which we shall find many species fitted for the adornment of the hardy flower-garden, and for other ornamental purposes. There will necessarily be some special directions for culture under the head of various species, but those that immediately follow are sufficient for the majority, the requirements of which are most simple and free from details of a troublesome nature to amateurs— always an admirable point in plants specially recommended to them; and the majority of the plants of this natural order are so. All the species delight most in light rich loam, more sandy than clayey; and they succeed in a variety of aspects, but generally prefer sunny ones ;—but these points will be noticed more in detail where necessary afterwards.

Arenaria (Sandwort).- This is a low, tufted, or carpet-like growing group, rather extensive in species, but greatly confused


and mixed in their relationships, and, moreover, very generally weedy and of little ornamental value. There are, however, a few sorts well worthy of a little attention, especially from those having to manage light dry sandy or stony soils, and where much rock, natural or artificial

, occurs. Easily propagated by seed and division; the seed to be sown any time in spring or early summer, out of doors, either where it is desired to be permanently placed, or in a nursing-bed for the purpose of transplanting at convenience. The division may take place at any time in the growing season, but not so successfully in late autumn or winter, the plants being very liable to be thrown out by frost.

A. balearica (Corsican Sandwort).—The whole stature, including the flowers, in elevation above the leaves in this species does not exceed 2 or 3 inches; but it extends rapidly along the surface of the soil in that which is congenial, and to be so does not imply depth nor quality, for it creeps along the face of a stone, or uninviting rock, or sandy bank, much more happily than in rich borders, in which, if the texture is heavy and retentive, it refuses to grow, perishing often in winter. The leaves are bright shining green, somewhat egg-shaped, and succulent. The flowers small, white, and starlike, very numerous, and continuous throughout summer. Native of Corsica.

A. grandiflora (Large-flowered Sandwort).—This species is also tufted and carpet-like, with awl-shaped, flattish leaves. Flowers on longish stalks, large, pure white, opening pretty continuously throughout early and late summer. Well adapted to grow in light dry soil, in mixed borders, rockwork, and for clothing sandy bare banks. Propagate by seed and division. Native of the Swiss Alps.

A. montana (Mountain Sandwort).—This is a dwarf, diffusegrowing species, with rapidly-extending stems, which do not, however, root in the process of extension so freely as many other Sandworts. The leaves are very narrow, lance-shaped, somewhat downy, and delicately fringed. Flowers large, pure white, one to a stalk, and very profuse throughout early summer. An admirable rock-plant, and very useful and pretty in the front lines of mixed borders in light sandy soil. Propagate by seed and division. Native of France and Europe generally.

Cerastium (Mouse-ear Chickweed). - Owing to the great popularity that one of the species has attained by its beautiful effects in combination with gayer-flowering plants in the massing system, this is more widely represented than most of the old-fashioned herbaceous genera in British gardens. The Woolly C., or, as it is more commonly named, “Snow-in-sum

mer," aids in various ways, in nearly every garden, to bring about the beautiful combinations of colour that are now nothing new, but ever pleasing when accomplished with taste. The family, though a large one, contains many mere weeds unworthy of cultivation, and only two species may be considered admissible into select collections of herbaceous plants, or into flower-gardens. Those two are adapted to grow in almost any ordinarily-good garden soil, succeeding best in that which is rich, light, and comparatively dry, but hardly refusing to grow in the opposite extreme within certain limits; they suffer, however, most in winter from this evil. Propagate by division and seeds and cuttings, as in the Sandworts, and all with the least possible trouble or difficulty. For rockwork, for edgings everywhere, and for masses or carpetings, in association with others in contrast, these are fit plants, and ever beautiful and pleasant to look upon.

C. Biebersteinii (Bieberstein's Mouse-ear Chickweed).—This differs from the Woolly C. in its larger size of plant and leaf, and in being more green-grey, and consequently less effective as a massing plant. Individually, it is a bolder plant than the other, and this renders it perhaps more fit for occupying a distinguished place in mixed borders and on rockwork. The flowers are, like those of the Woolly C., white; but when the foliage is the object in culture, it is well to cut them away betimes, as their development is made at some expense of leaf, and the plant remains long seedy after the very brief but usually abundant blooming period. Native of the mountains of Tauria.

C. tomentosum (Woolly Mouse-ear Chickweed).—This plant, so well known and universally cultivated, needs no recommendation here; it has already established itself as an indispensable adjunct in garden embellishment so long as bedding-out continues the fashion. Its use in the mixed border or rockwork would necessarily be limited in establishments where these exist along with the massing or bedding-out method ; but even then sparingly used as a contrast in front lines of borders and on rockwork, its effect will be found sometimes desirable. Native of the south of Europe.

Dianthus (Pink).— Besides the species which have given origin to the florists' varieties of the Pink and Carnation, this family comprises a considerable number of members less illustrious than these, but very beautiful and worthy of general cultivation among mixed herbaceous and rock plants. Very few of these are cultivated except in botanic gardens in this country at the present time. There are not so many of the florists'

varieties of Pinks and Carnations even to be met with in private gardens as in bygone days, certainly not nearly so many as their surpassing beauty and fragrance would warrant the expectation of; and these more simple but handsome forms of nature are still more rare. The various species are not at all difficult to cultivate, although there is a popular belief that only the initiated can hope for a tolerable degree of success with Pinks and Carnations, and that novices will have little besides trouble and vexation for their pains when they take up the culture of these favourite florists' flowers. It does not fall within the scope of this work to write a treatise on the culture of the Pink and Carnation; besides, it is a well-worn topic, and will be found fully discussed from various points of view in different works on florists' flowers, easily obtainable by those who desire more particular information regarding the principles on which they are cultivated for exhibition than may be properly included here. In order to have fine exhibition flowers there must always be vigorous plants on hand from the previous year's propagation, and they must be specially grown either in pots or prepared beds, and the energies of the plants concentrated on the production of a minimum number of flowers. But in growing them merely for the purposes of the ornamentation of the garden, and for cut flowers, the reverse of this is the best practice. The very plants that have yielded exhibition flowers, and which the enthusiastic florist would discard, are just the most fit for our purpose, because at two or three years old the Carnation and Pink produce their maximum of flowers; before that the flowers may be very fine but few, and after that the plants decline in vigour, and often die out. Then instead of being coddled up in pots, or confined to specially-prepared beds, and surrounded by the paraphernalia that is indispensable when they are grown for exhibition, they should be planted everywhere that it is proper to place them, among mixed herbaceous plants for contrast and sweetness, in lines along the walks of the kitchen-garden, or in masses, wherever convenient, for the purpose of cutting for room adornment. These remarks apply in the main to the Carnation and the Pink, but all Pinks are proper for such purposes, and for planting on rockwork, and on the margins of shrubbery beds or borders—everywhere, in fact, that colour and sweetness are desirable. The propagation of the large-growing kinds of the Carnation type is best effected by layers made in July or August, and the Pinks generally are easily increased by cuttings at the same time or earlier, planted in sandy soil under a glass on the north side of a wall or hedge, where they may escape the direct rays of the


sun for the greater part of the day. The soil in which the Pink family succeeds best is a rich sandy loam, but they do very well in many kinds of soil if not excessively wet in winter

. In summer they suffer from drought very quickly, and should be allowed an abundant supply of water, if they appear to require it; and in light dry soils they will be benefited by a mulching of old manure placed over their roots in that

D. alpinus (Alpine Pink).—A very dwarf species, growing only 3 or 4 inches high, with oblong blunt leaves and large deeprose flowers blotched with deeper red, one flower to a stem, and the petals notched on the margin. A very beautiful and distinct sort, flowering in June and July. Best adapted for rock-work in light rich sandy soil in which well-decomposed vegetable matter abounds. Leaf-mould should be avoided in planting it, however, owing to the prevalence of wire-worms in it, which are one of the atest pests of this and all Pinks. A little good peat is the best to add to the soil if it is deficient in vegetable matter. Where the soil is suitable, it may also be tried in the mixed border ; but only where it is naturally or otherwise well drained should this be attempted. Native of the mountains of Austria.

D. arenarius (Sand Pink).—This is similar in habit to the last, but has linearrather sharp-pointed leaves. The stems are oneflowered, as in the last species; the petals are purple and fringed. Adapted to adorn either the rockwork or mixed border in very sandy soil, but requires abundant supplies of water in summer. Flowers from June till August. Native of many countries of Europe.

D. barbatus (Sweet-william).-Although this time-honoured inhabitant of gardens is probably best treated as a biennial, it is a true perennial, and for this reason, as well as on account of its great ornamental qualities, it deserves a place here as well as in every garden in the country. It is too well known to need description, and too much admired to need praise ; it recommends itself powerfully enough by the endless and elegant variety of its flowers. Besides the beautiful single varieties, there are numerous very handsome double ones, which, as they last in bloom much longer, and never assume the seedy aspect which forms the only drawback against Sweet-williams being cultivated in more distinguished positions than they are usually favoured with in most gardens, may be considered improvements, in so far as they may be used in more select arrangements than the others are fit for. The better double sorts should be increased annually by cuttings, but doubles of fair

« AnteriorContinuar »