William Rhind.

A history of the vegetable kingdom online

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of their proportions ; the gracefulness of single
simple form, or the gorgeous luxuriance of tiieir
grouped masses. U to this we add the dellcioTis
odour which they constantly and spontaneonsly
difi^use, we need not wonder that flowers should
be universal favourites, and that we should find
them ornamenting the humblest ootta^ as well
as the proudest palace.

By long and judicious cultivation, garden
flowers undergo as remarkable changes as take
place so strikingly in culinary v^tablea. They
increase in size, in depth, and variety of colour,
and even change their forms. One of the
most remarkable changes is that of their becom-
ing what is called double. That is, the number
of petals of the corolla increase many fold, as in
the rose, and anemone, while the stamens and
pistils, or organs of fructification, become almost
or entirely obliterated, or converted into petals.
To many tastes, perhaps, the simple and appro-
priate forms of the native flowers are more
beautiful than this artificial monstrosity, yet it
cannot be denied, but that the tints and lux-
uriant aspect of many flowers are decidedly
improved by cultivation. Hence has arisen an
artificial standard, among florists, of judging of
flowers, which has been called the "canons of
criticism." As suited for every day domestic
ornaments, flower gardens, or plots, or border^
should be situated near the house, so as easy
access may be obtained to them, or if not closely
adjoining to the house, they may be placed so
as to be seen from the windows. A south
situation, or one inclining to the south-west,
south-east, or east, is most desirable. When the
space is limited, horizontal or gentle sloping
borders will be found most convenient, while on
the other hand, if the grounds are more exten-
sive, a waved irregular surface will aflbrd the
greatest scope for taste in arrangement The
sur&ce should be rather elevated, not low,
sufficiently sheltered from the winds, yet open
and free to the sun, not overshadowed or covered
witli trees, or other liigh foliage. A few elegant



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THE HYACINTH.



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shmbo, and one or two trees, may be scattered
through the scene for the purposes of shelter and
shade, but in general most of either of these two
last are injurious to the proper culture of flowers.
Sometimea the eyergreen hedge will produce all
the belter requisite.

The subsoil should by no means be wet.
Flowers, in general, thriye well in a common
garden soil, a foot to eighteen inches deep, not
eith» too rich, or too light and gravelly. For
some kinds, however, a deep moist soil, and for
others, a light arenaceous is preferable. Bulbous
flowen, in gaieral, do best in light sandy earth,
thoBgh some require a stronger and richer soil.
The primrose tribe (^primula J require a loamy
earth, heath plants a mixture of moss earth.
The spaces between the flower beds may either
be of turf, or sandy gravel, or paved with flags
or bricks. The plants are arranged in mingled
flower borders, partly according to their size, and
partly according to cobur. The tallest are
planted in the back part, those of middling size
oconpy the centre, and tiioae of humble growth
are planted in front. The beauty of a flower
border, when in bloom, depends very much on
the tai^eful disposition of the plants with regfurd
to ooloor. By intermingling plants which flower
in soooession, Uie beauty of the border may be
prolonged for some weeks; groups of plants of
the tame ^lecies, all in flower at the same time,
have also a tasteful efi«et. A supply of water
is essential to an artificial cultivation of flowers;
where a pond or reservoir can be introduced into
the flower garden, it will not <mly add to the
beauty, but to the fiftdlity of cultivation. Many
aquatic plants of great beauty may, by this
means, be also cultivated. Herbaceous flower
plants are put into the ground generally in
qwii^ or autumn, but any perennial plant may
be safely removed after it has done flowering, or
prodttoed seed. Biennials or annuals may be
planted at almost any season, before they
have begun to throw up flower stems. Bien-
nials, however, are generally sown early in
autumn, in the flower garden nursery, and trans-
planted either late in the same season, or early in
the following spring to where they are to flower.
Annuals are commonly sown in spring, where
they are finally to remain, but many species
grow much stronger when sown in autumn.
Some attention is also requisite to manage the
flower garden to perfection. As the stalks of
flowering plants shoot up they generally require
thinning and props for support, and the blossom
both of plants and shrubs no sooner expands
than it begins to wither, and must be cut off
unless as in some instances they are to be left
for the beauty of their fruit. Weeding, water-
ing, stirring the soil, and trimming the grass, and
sorting the gravel walks, are all necessary for
neatness and the proper growth of the plants.



Every two or three years the perennial flowers
should be taken up and reduced in size, and
the beds or borders trenched, adding short
manure completely rotted. After the lapse of
several years, if it can be conveniently managed,
the upper soil should be removed, and replaced
by fresh loamy mould. Most flowers thrive
well in iresli common loam without manure ;
and to such as require a deep rich soil, manure
may be added at the time of trenching, or chang-
ing the soil. Peat earth, sand, clay, and lime
may also be added to such plants as require par-
ticular soils.

Many tender plants and shrubs growing in the
openair require protection during winter. Alpine
plants require protection from cold dry winds,
and this may be done by covering them with
snow, and thus imitating their natural condition;
or in absence of this, head glasses or frames are
to be put over them in winter, and screens or
shades to keep them from the summer heat.
The roots of many plants require protection
from frost, and this may be done by covering'
them several inches thick with ashes, rotten tan
refuse, or litter; mats or portable glass cases will
protect tender plants from rain, high winds, and
hail stones. Great care is necessary to protect
plants placed in pots from frost, and this is done
by plunging them in dry soil, tan, or sand. Climb-
ing plants require to be supported by poles or
rods. All flies, caterpillars, snails, slugs, and such
vermin must be destroyed, and no plan is more
efficacious for this purpose, in the flower garden,
than carefully hand-picking the plants. Among
insects the different species of plant lice
(aphides) mre the most insidious and destruc-
tive.

Flowers may be preserved for a considerable
time fresh after they have been cut from the
plant by immersing the cut ends in water, moist
earth, or sand, or moistened moss. They may
also be revived when partiaUy withered, by
sprinkling them with water, and putting them
under a beU glass or inverted flower pot. If this
fails, immerse their ends in water heated to 80**.
or sprinkle them with spirit of wine, or ether ;
fk>wers, when newly transplanted either into
the ground or into pots, require a large sup-
ply of water, and to be shaded from the sun's
rays for several days until they fully take root in
their new position.

Besides herbaceous flower plants, there are a
variety of shrubs and trees, both indigenous and
exotic, which are conducive to ornament. We
shall first treat of the herbaceous class.

The Hyacinth, hyacinthus orientalis. Natural
{ami\y,asphodele€g; hexandria, monogynia of Lin-
nsus. This plant is a native of the Levant, and
grows in abundance about Aleppo and Bagdad.
It obtained its name from the Grecian youth
H3'acinthus, who was fabled to have been slain



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56S



HISTORY OF THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM



by Apollo, nn<1 cliani»ed to this flower. The
root is a tunicated bulb, the leaves are broad and
green; the flower-stalk rises from the centre, the
corolla is funnel-shaped, and half cleft into six
portions, the flowers point in all du'ections
around the scape, which is erect. It appears to
have been first cultiyated, as a garden flower, by
the Dutch, most probably about the beginning of
the sixteenth century, soon after the reviyal of
commerce in the west of Europe, when that enter-
prising nation began to trade on the eastern
shores of the Mediterranean and the Archipelago.
In Britain it was cultivated by Gerard in 1596.
The hyacinth is one of the most esteemed of
garden flowers. It is not only graceful in form,
but brilliant, beautiful, and varied in colour, and
possesses an odour little inferior to the carna-
tion. It bears the climate of Britain well, and
is of very easy culture. In its native coun-
try it flowers in Februar}', here in March and
April.

There are innumerable varieties of this flower.
Grerard mentions the single and double blue, the
purple, and the white. In 1629, Parkinson
enumerates eight varieties, while the Haerlem
gardeners distinguish not less than 2,000, and
generally publish catalogues of them from year
to year. As the taste or rage for this flower has
at present abated, the Dutch and English cata-
logues contain only a few hundred varieties with
names. They are arranged as double blues,
whites, reds, and yellows, and single varieties of
the same colour. The blue and red colours are
the most common, the yellow most rare. At
first the single hyacinth only was cultivated, but
about the beginningi»f the last century attention
was paid to double flowers by Peter Voerhelm,
whose first double flower he called Mary, but
which is now lost; his third flower he. called
the king of Great Britain, which is now looked
upon as the oldest double hyacinth. It was
held in such esteem at one time, that the usual
price for a single bulb was 1,000 florins, or £100
sterling. Up to the middle of last century the
greatest attention was paid at Haerlem to rais-
ing new sorts of double flowers, and for a parti-
cular root £200 have not unfrequently been
given. Since that period, however, the taste for
this and other bulbs has considerably declined,
so that at present there are few sorts that exceed
£10; tlie average price is from one to ten shill-
ings a bulb for the fine sorts, and what are
called the common mixtures are sold from £2
to £3 a hundred. To preserve these varieties
requii-es much care and manogement. Under
bad treatment a variety degenerates in two or
three years; in Holland some have been preserved
nearly a century.

The criterion or qualities requbite in a fine
double plant are as follows. The stem should
bo strong, tall, and erect, supporting the numer-



ous large bells, each supported by a sliort and
strong peduncle, or foot-stalk in a horizontsl
position, so that the whole may have a compact
pyramidal form with the crown or uppermost
flower perfectly erect. The flowers should be
large and perfectly double, that is, well filled
with broad bold petals appearing to the eje,
rather convex than flat or hollow. They should
occupy about one half the length of the stem.
The* colour should be clear and bright, whether
plain red, white, or blue, or variously intermixed
and diversified, the latter giving addLitional lustre
and elegance to this beautiful flower. Strong
bright colours are, in general, preferred to sndi
as are pale.

Hyacinths are propagated by seed, in order
to obtain new varieties, and by offsets for
continuing approved sorts. The seed riiould be
selected from the best specimens of plants, such
as have strong straight stems, and a regular well
formed pyramid of bells, not perfectly single,
but rather approaching to doable. The seed
should not be gathered tiU it is perfectly blade.
It b to be sown in the latter end of October, or
the. beginning of March, about half an indi
below the surfece of the soil, in a deep box filled
with good garden mould mixed with sand. It
requires no watering, and nothing but to be kept
clear of weeds and frost till it has rem^ed in
the ground two years. On the approach of
winter it must then have an additional stratom
of the compost placed upon it about half an inch
thick, and in the third year, in t-he month of
July, the roots may be taken up, dried, and
treated in the same manner as lai^ bulbs or
offsets. Some of the roots will flower the
fourth year, one half of them the fifth, and the
whole in the sixth. The cultivator generally
thinks himself fortunate if one half of the plants
that first appeared are in exbtence at this
period, and if he can at least find one flower in
five hundred deserving a name or place in a
curious collection, he may rest perfectly content.
Offsets are to be separated from the parent bulb,
and planted out separately in the beginning of
October, in an open space, in rows of about two
inches deep, upon a bed raised about six or eight
inches above the common level. The soil should
be sandy and well pulverized ; it b also advisable
to elevate the bed somewhat in the middle so
as to throw oflF the rain. The surfece of the
bed should be strewed occasionally, and kept fi«e
from weeds, and protected from severe frosts.
The offisets will blossom weakly the second
year, but in the third tolerably strong.

Of the full grown roots, those which have
attained the age of four or five years bloom
stronger in thb country than any other. After
this they generally, decline, either by dividing
into offisets, or diminishing in sise and strength,
but in HoUand, perhaps owing to the peculiari-



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THE HYACINTH.



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ti«9 of the soil and climate, the same bulb has
been known to produce blossoms twelre or thir-
teen times, nor is it erer known to die merely
with age. The bed on which they are to be placed
should have a dry and airy sheltered situation;
two feet of the sur&ce soil should be taken
away, and the inferior portion trenched to the
depth of nine inches. The earth above is to be
replaced with a compost of one-third coarse
sea or river sand, one-third fresh earth, and
one-fbnrth rotten cow dung, at least two
years old, and the remainder earth of decayed
leares. This compost is to be placed in a
sloping direction towards the sun. The roots
are to be planted from the middle of October
to the middle of November. On planting the
roots, the surface of the bed should be covered
with a little fresh sandy earth about an inch
thick, raked perfectly smooth, and have the
exact situation for every bulb marked upon it
regularly, mingling the colours of red, and blue,
and white, the yellows being classed with the
latter. On planting the roots they should be
snrronnded with a little clean sand to prevent
the earth adhering too closely to them, the
whole are then to be covered with fresh sandy
earth from three to four inches deep, according
to the sixe of the bulb. The bed is to be pro-
tected from severe frosts or heavy rains by some
covering. The plants begin to show their flowers
about the beginning of April.

Those which thus blow early should be shel-
tered from the influence of the sun, for if too mucli
son falls on the flower, it bleaches and tarnishes
the colour, particularly the red and blue varieties.
By judicious shade this is not only prevented,
but the flower is kept back so that it will be in
frill bloom with others which come out later.
It is necessary to afford support to the stems,
and this is done by inserting small sticks or
wires, painted green, immediately behind the
bulbs, either in an erect position, or leaning
a little backwards, to which the stems are to be
rather loosely tied with small pieces of green
worsted as soon as they begin to bend, or are in
danger of breaking with the weight of the bells.
This operation mutt be repeated as the stems
advance in height. When the greater part of
the bed comes into blow, a covering or awning
should be stretched over the whole, so as to pro-
tect the flowers from the too great influence of
the sun, and the efiects of wind and rains.
This awning should, however, be so constructed
as to fold up, or be opened at the top so as to
allow air and the tempered influence of the sun
in slightly clouded weather, and in the morn-
ings and evenings. The bed never requires to
be watered at any period, the natural rain which
frdls being sufficient a£ber the time of planting
both for the roots and the flowers. After the
bloom is over, the dryer the plants are kept the



better. As this sheltering, however, has a ten-
dency to weaken tlie bulbs, it should not be
continued more than a couple of weeks at most,
and as soon as the full blow begins to decline
the bed should be i^n exposed to the full
action of the sun and air. In Holland, about
three or four weeks after the bloom, when the
plants begin to assume a yellowish decayed
appearance, they take up the roots, and cut off
the stem and foliage close to or within half an
inch of the bulb, but leave the fibres attached to
it. They then place the bulbs again on the same
bed sidewise, with their points towards the north,
and cover them about half an inch deep with
dry earth or sand in the form of a ridge, or little
cover over each. In this state they remain
about three weeks longer, and dry or ripen
gradually, during which time as much air is
admitted as possible, but the bed is preserved
from heavy rains and too hot a sun. At the
expiration of this period the bulbs are taken up,
and their fibres, which are become nearly dry,
gently rubbed ofl^. They are then placed in a
dry room for a few days, and are afterwards
cleared from any soil that adheres to them; their
loose skins are taken ofl^ with such offsets as
may be easily separated. When this dressing
is finished, the bulbs are wrapped up in separate
pieces of paper, or buried in dry sand, where they
remain till the return of the season of planting.
An easier though not so safe a practice is to
keep the bed airy and rather dry for about two
months, till the stems and foliage appear nearly
dried up, or consumed. The bulbs are then to
be taken up, cleaned from the fibres and soil,
and preserved in sand or papers. The bulbs^
should be placed in an airy store-room, and not
suffered to touch each other; they are best aired
when placed in an open movable lattice work.

Hyacinth bulbs are liable to various diseases,
one (»f the most common is what is known as
the ring Hekness. When this occurs the diseased
part must be cut out, and if the disease has not
penetrated beyond the outside coat, the bulb will
survive this operation, but it is now only fit for
producing offsets, lliis disease is very pre-
valent in Holland, and is attributed to a fan-
gus, the spawn of which comes from the cow
dung used as manure. The hyacinth delights
in a sandy soil, and ss^ine atmosphere, and on
this account it succeeds best near the sea coast, or
situations adjoining the sea. In more inland
parts it will, generally, be found necessary
to procure an annual supply of fresh imported
bulbs, in order to make good the losses. Her-
bert remarks, **my experience enables me to
say, that the nursery man in the neighbourhood
of London may produce hyacinth bulbs equal,
if not superior, to those imported from Holland,
though perhaps with greater loss from disease,
owing to his not being able to procure the dung of
4C



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HlSTORr OF THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM.



cattle fed upon hard food, and free from straw,"
Hyacinths majr be forced by planting the roots
in narrow deep pots, filled with sandy loam, in
October. These are to be plunged in old bark
and sand, the bulbs will soon throw down roots,
and a part may in November be plunged into
bottom heat, when they will blow about Christ-
mas. A succession from the original stem, thus
treated will afford a bloom till the spring.

Hyacinths form a beautiful ornament when
grown in glasses. For this purpose blue or any
dark coloured glass is preferable to white, because
too much light is injurious to the bulb. The
bulbs, for this purpose, should be put into earth
in October, in which they push out their fibres
more regularly, and they can be taken up as
wanted, washed from earth, and placed in the
glass, which should be kept in a warm room or
store. Soft water should be used, and the glass
is to be filled up so as to cover a quarter of an
inch of the bulb. As soon as the water becomes
fetid and muddy it should be renewed. When
these bulbs have done flowering, they are to be
removed from the glasses with all their leaves
and roots, and planted in an appropriate soil.
When the leaves have completely withered, the
bulbs are to be taken up and preserved dry tiU
the latter end of October, when they may be
planted in beds in the usual manner.*

Thb Tulip (tulipa ^gesnerianaj. Natural
fiunily, Uliaeea; hexandria, mcnogynia^ of Lin-
nieus. This celebrated bulb is a native of the
Levant, and is common in Syria and Persia.
The Persians call it tAwlyboHy hence the Frencli
tuiipan, and the English tulip. This plant
appears to have been brought to Europe from
Persia, by way of Constantinople, in 1669, and
in a century afterwards to have risen into an
object of considerable trade in the Netherlands.
At this period, indeed, and for long afterwards,
a sort of mania for this and other bulbs pre-
vailed among the Dutch; individual bulbs were
not unfr^quently sold for £600 and upwards,
and immense sums of money lost and won by
speculations in this fiftvourite flower. In Eng-
land it was first cultivated by Gamett, who,
according to Hakluyt, obtained the roots from
Vienna.

The taste in England was at its height about
the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the
eighteenth century. It afterwards declined, and
gave way to a more extended taste for various
rare plants from foreign countries. The tulip,
however, is still extensively cultivated in Hol-
land, firom which all Europe is supplied with
bulbs. It is also still raised to a considerable
extent near large towns in England. It has,
however, lost in a considerable degree that
fashionable patronage which it at one time

• Loudon, Herbert, &c. I



acquired, and of consequence the prices of bulbe
have become much more reasonable.

The natural colour of the petals of the tulip
is generally of a uniform hue, either white, pur-
ple, or red. The object of culture is to diversify
and mix colours to as great an extoit as possible.
Hence innumerable varieties have arisen.

Mason's London catalogue enumerates tax
varieties of early blowing tulips; four perroqueU
or middle blowers, twenty-two double sorts, and
upwards of 600 single, the last being the only
kind valued by connoisseur florists.

The beau ideal of a first rate tulip is thus
minutely specified. The stem should be strong,
elastic, and erect, and about thirty inches aboTe
the surface of the bed. The flower should be
laige, and composed of six petals. These should
proceed a litUe horizontally at first, and then
turn upwards, forming almost a perfect cup,
with a round bottom, rather widest at the top.
The three exterior petals should be rather larger
than the three inferior ones, and broader at their
base; all the petals should have perfectly oitire
edges, free from notch or serrature. The top of eacli
should be broad, and well rounded; the ground
colour of the flower at the bottom of the cup
should be clear, white, or yellow; and the various
rich coloured stripes, which are the principal
ornament of a fine tulip, should be regular, bold,
and dbtinct on the margin, and terminate in
fine broken points, elegantly feathered or pen-
cilled.

The centre of each leaf or petal should con-
tain one or more bold blotches or stripes, inter-
mixed with small portions of the original or
breeder colour, abruptly broken into many irre-
gular, obtuse points. Some florists are of opinion
that the central stripes or blotches do not con-
tribute to the beauty and el^ance of the tulip,
unless confined to a narrow stripe exactly down
the centre, and that they should be perfectly
free fi^>m any remains of the original or breeder
colour. It is certain that such appear very beau-
tiful and delicate, especially when they have a
regular, narrow feathering at the edge; but the
greatest connoisseurs in this flower unanimously
agree, that it denotes superior merit when the
tulip abounds with rich colouring, distributed in
a distinct and regular manner throughout the
flower, except in the bottom of the cup, which,
it cannot be disputed, should be a clear, bright,
white or yellow, frree from stain or tinge, in



Online LibraryWilliam RhindA history of the vegetable kingdom → online text (page 128 of 163)