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covered with small angular stones: by this means less humidity will rest about the plant, and, in so far as the stones will arrest evaporation, there will be a limitation of the necessary watering; so that in two directions the cause of damping in those subjects is lessened by means of this practice.
A large number of alpine plants may be cultivated in the mixed border, if the locality is not very moist, and the drainage good. Only the more vigorous should be tried out in this way by the inexperienced at first, and the more fastidious and delicate by-and-by, when stock and experience are both increased sufficiently to warrant a few experiments and their risks. Nearly all will be benefited by being a little elevated above the general surface, mound-like, and most will be the better for having a few rough stones buried or half buried about their roots, in soils that are inclined to retentiveness; while in those that are light and dry, most alpines should have the surface in their vicinity covered with stones to prevent evaporation to an excessive degree. Those stones, whether buried or on the surface, serve another good purpose besides those of drainage and retention of moisture: they keep up a more equable temperature in the soil, which is a point of much importance in the culture of alpine plants.
The time when alpine plants may be most safely divided is spring, when a little activity is beginning. There are many vigorous sorts that may be operated on with safety in the autumn, but in the case of all small and surfacerooting species it is better to wait till spring. Those which make a very early start into flower, such as Anemone apennina, may be divided in early autumn; and any
that are then divided should be attended to early, as soon as the first symptoms of going to rest are apparent.
Rearing Herbaceous and Alpine Perennials from Seed.In the descriptive part of the book I have in all cases requiring special treatment given the necessary details for rearing the subjects from seed, and here I propose setting down a few suggestions applicable generally to the sowing and rearing of the two classes of herbaceous and alpine perennials for the guidance of amateurs and others of limited experience. The mass of these hardy plants -perhaps I should say all-may be raised from seed in the open air more or less successfully. Nature, we know, manages pretty well to keep up stock in her own domain of these and other miscellanies in the plant way, with none of the fuss that distinguishes our efforts. She, however, has a perfect aptitude for the work, and is sure of the attainment of her object sooner or later, for she never fails in filling up blanks with the right thing in the right place, and at the right time. We, on the contrary, must confess that we work often very much by rule of thumb in this matter, forgetting or ignoring what we do know of her ways and means, and often even setting them at defiance. Yet our success is not despicable, and it is attained usually with less waste of time and material, all things considered. The question whether the seeds of these hardy plants are to be sown in the open air or under glass will depend for its answer on whether there is a choice; and if there is a choice, the final decision will be determined by other considerations. For the mere purpose of keeping up stock of the easy-managed vigorous kinds in private gardens, it is in no way necessary to incur the additional labour caused by rearing
them under glass : generally speaking, they require as much labour and attention, when so treated, as more valuable things; and there being little risk in treating them with less consideration, we need not hamper ourselves unduly with them. With a numerous group,
such as Delphinium and the herbaceous Pæonies, which will not bloom the first year from seed, and some such as the latter, that are slow to germinate, even when raised under glass, there is obviously nothing to gain in raising in the more troublesome way in point of time; and unless we have reason to suspect that, on account of long keeping or other circumstances, the vitality of the seed is low, and would therefore have a better chance under glass, all such may very well be sown in their own element out of doors. But new and rare subjects, whether the seeds are saved from our own collection or obtained from other sources, and all the more choice species and varieties that it is desirable to make the most of, it is better if possible to sow under glass. And there are many perennials-such as most Pentstemons of the garden varieties, varieties of late-blooming Phloxes, some Salvias, and a host of others—which, if sown early under glass, may be bloomed the first season,-a consummation desirable enough, even in the case of things that we know well, but greatly more so when our expectations are whetted by novelty, rarity, and surpassing excellence. All these, and any that are above average in intrinsic worth, it is desirable to sow under glass; and generally, when only limited quantities are required, it may be looked upon as the best way, because by it the object is soonest attained, and with the least risk of failure. Assuming, then, that it is desirable and convenient to sow
a miscellaneous lot of seeds of perennials under glass, I would here describe what I have found in my own experience successful practice.
It is necessary at the outset to state that, be the structure what it may, it is requisite that it should be in two compartments. If only a two-light frame, it should be divided under the rafter with boarding; and if handlights only can be conveniently set apart for the work, there should be a set of them in addition to those occupied by the seed-pots immediately on their being sown. The reason why this is urged is, that as all seeds do not germinate alike quickly, and it is desirable to keep up conditions in the seed-frame that are inimical to the wellbeing of the plantlets, a fit place should be in readiness to receive those that start early as soon as it is necessary to remove them, and in which they may receive that treatment essential to their healthy and vigorous development. The frame or hand-light should be prepared for the work by being thoroughly cleaned and repaired if necessary. The site for the frame should, if possible, be sheltered; but it is indispensable that it should be in a light position-one in which it may enjoy the fullest influence of the sun. The frame will require further preparation when placed in its site, by having plunging materials of some sort put in the bottom. This may be soil, leaf-mould, sand, or coal-ashes; but for the seed-frame the latter is perhaps best, and it is generally convenient to obtain. The next requisite is soil to sow in: any good light loam will do, and it should be passed through a coarse sieve in order to remove all the larger stones and other gross matter, as well as to equalise the mechanical condition of the mass. Of course the better
the quality of the soil—that is, the fresher it is the more desirable ; but it is not necessary, but rather objectionable, that it should be very rich. A little leaf-mould, if procurable, may be added ; or, if there is reason to suppose it is poor, a moderate allowance of old manure, previously dried and rubbed through a quarter-inch sieve, may be used, either as a substitute for, or along with, the leaf-mould, according to convenience, and as the condition of the soil may suggest. As much sharp sand may be added to the mass as will render it light and porous ; and the whole should be turned about and rubbed well with the hands, so as to insure a thorough and equal incorporation of the materials throughout. During this process it will prevent much after-annoyance and trouble if a sharp look-out is kept upon worms, whether earthworm, wire-worm, or the larvæ of insects, with a view to their destruction as far as possible. A small portion of the soil may be sifted through a quarter-inch sieve, and have a little more sand added to it, and be set aside conveniently for use in covering the seeds and in making a suitable bed for those that are minute. The pots are the next consideration, and they should be clean and dry ; if not new, they must be washed and thoroughly dry before being used. The best sizes for this purpose are those of four or five inches diameter at the top: the small mass of soil that these contain is less liable to become sour, should the seed sown in it be slow to germinate—and in such cases it is of the first importance to anticipate and provide against evils; while in all cases those sizes will be found generally convenient. They may not be equal to the reception of the stock in hand of all kinds of seed, but better duplicate pots than lum