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The Greenhouse and Conservatory in Summer.
By the Editor.
A GREENHOUSE or conservatory in our northern clime—where, for about eight months of the year, nearly all tender plants require protection from frosts—is a necessary appendage to every garden of any extent-or, we might say, to almost every dwelling ;--for it is near to, or immediately adjoining, the house, that the conservatory should always be constructed. Separate from the interest which winter flowering plants alone create, it is necessary to the beauty and brilliancy of every summer garden to have a place where great quantities of showy plants can be brought forward for decorating the border and parterre throughout the summer.
Every one admires the beauty of a well-kept collection of greenhouse plants. Whether we view it in autumn, when studded with that showy flower, the chrysanthemum,-in winter, when gay with the beautiful camellia,—or, in spring, when the many-hued roses breathe their delicious odor, and the exquisite tints of the pelargonium dazzle the eye,-it is always the same delightful place. Secure from the heavy storms and wintry blasts, the floral treasures of all climes are ever before us, interesting us in their growth, and delighting in their variety and aspect.
But of all places the most dreary,—the greenhouse, as usually managed in summer,-is the most so. No sooner does June—“rosy June”—arrive, than the plants are all tumbled out of the house as if they had no right to be there; all their former brilliancy and beauty is forgotten; and, with, perhaps, the exception of the camellias, are huddled into some out-of-the-way place,-or under the shade of some old tree, where they remain all summer,--sometimes wet and sometimes dry,-as if they were so many cumberers of the ground. Mr. Repton, in his Landscape Gardening, speaks of the greenhouse as "generally a deserted and unsightly object," and alludes to one which he constructed in such a style that it might be turned into a pavilion, in summer, in order to avoid this dreary aspect! It is true, at the time he wrote, that our gardens were not enriched with the variety of plants which the researches of botanists have brought to notice, and many of which are so peculiarly adapted for summer ornaments of the greenhouse. The gorgeous Japan lilies, the brilliant achimenes, the superb fuchsias, and the elegant tribe of gloxinias and gesneras, then mostly unknown, will alone enrich and render the greenhouse as attractive in summer as at any other season of the year.
Desirous that our amateur friends should enjoy the treat which has been of so much gratification to us, we have ventured to devote a page or two to a recapitulation of some of the plants, which will enable them to attain the desired object. We do not intend to enter into a full account of the growth and management of the plants, leaving that to another opportunity, but merely to give a full list of such as we have, for two or three years, cultivated in the greenhouse throughout the summer months, or the interval from June to September, when it usually presents only a “beggarly account of empty benches."
The Japan lilies are, par excellence, the gems of the summer ornaments of the greenhouse. Perfectly hardy though they may prove to be, the entire success which attends their cultivation in pots, -aside from the delicate tints of some, as well as the gorgeousness of others, which would scarcely withstand exposure to the winds and storms,—will always render them the most prominent objects of attraction. No description of them would be adequate to their merits, and, to be fully appreciated, they must be seen in flower. There are several species and varieties; but those which are especially splendid are the following:—lancifolium álbum, 1. punctatum, 1. roseum, and I. rùbrum; testàceum and Brownii. They commence blooming the latter part of June, and continue in flower till September.
Next to the lilies should, perhaps, be ranked this beautiful family, though some might dispute its claim over the Gloxinias. There are about a dozen species and varieties, though we have only cultivated nine, as follows :- A. longifòra,
grandiflòra, rosea, hirsùta, coccinea, pedunculàta, oblonga, (Niphæ'a oblonga,) picta, and påtens, the last one yet very rare : pícta is, perhaps, the most attractive of the whole, as its flowers are not only very splendid, but the leaves are of a very velvety texture, and richly marked with dark-colored bands, presenting a fine contrast with the yellow and scarlet spotted flowers. They commence flowering in April, and continue till October ; of the easiest cultivation in very light soil, composed of leaf mould and heath soil. Three or more plants, placed in a small pan ten or twelve inches wide, make a fine show when in full bloom.
"One of the principal ornaments of our greenhouses,” says a Belgian writer, in describing a new variety of this tribe, “during the summer season, is the gloxinia in all its delightful species and hybrid varieties, whose brilliant flowers are admired for a long space of time, and among which are blue, violet, white, and rose, with their rich and velvety tints, and shining with a lustre inimitable. What would be our greenhouses without this plant? Grouped together in quantities, and in company with their allies, the achimenes, gesneras, &c., what a variety of form and colors ! What flowers! What a splendid sight!" To any one who has seen a good collection, well grown, this apparently imaginative statement does not convey the reality. We may indeed exclaim, What colors !- What brilliancy and beauty! We write after just having seen some magnificent specimens which are already covered with flowers.
Since the process of hybridization has been applied to this tribe, some remarkably elegant varieties have been produced, the handsomest of which in our collection is the Cartòni, a perfect gem. In Belgium, some still more striking varieties have been produced, one of which is a deep red with distinct stripes of blue,-a combination of colors rarely seen in flowers. Of the many kinds already introduced, the following are the best :-Rùbra, speciosa, alba máxima, macrophyʻlla variegata, insignis, bicolor, Cartoni, and Celestial. Their cultivation is very simple. The bulbs should be
VOL. XIII.-NO. VI.
potted in April or May, and placed in a hotbed or very warm part of the greenhouse to give them a start, and, when rooted, they may be shifted into large pots, and placed upon the stage for the season. From October to March, they may be kept in any dry place, the pots turned down on their sides. Peat, leaf-mould, and sand is the proper compost.
The Gesneras are all very beautiful plants, and some of the recent additions to the tribe possess remarkably brilliant flowers as well as the richest foliage. Of this character are zebrina and Gerardidna. One, the tubiflòra, is highly fragrant, and a single raceme of its showy flowers will perfume the greenhouse. The best are G. rubra, zebrina, spléndens, Coopèrii, Gerardidna, and tubiflora : culture and treatment the same as for Gloxinias.
The Fuchsia, in its numerous hybrid varieties, is one of the most valuable ornaments of the greenhouse, the balcony, the verandah, or the parterre. In either situation, it always shows to good advantage, and, when the specimens are well grown, their profusion of flowers renders them the most attractive objects. We have already said so much in favor of the fuchsia, and given such an account of the fine specimens we saw in English collections, that it is unnecessary to again repeat it. We may, however, say a word in favor of some varieties which we have found to bear the heat better than others, and which are, therefore, more desirable. These are, Defiance, Salter's 40 and Salter's 41, Chauvièrii, Expansa, New Globe, E'ppsii, and Queen Victoria (Smith’s).
The Chinese hibiscuses are the most gaudy objects in summer, and, when the plants are large, and bloom freely, they add much to the effect of a well-arranged house. The plants should not be too numerous, but scattered here and there; their large and showy flowers are always admired. There are four varieties, the scarlet, yellow, salmon, and rose. They require good-sized pots, and, in winter, they may be stored under the stage, or in a dry cellar.
Verónica specisòa.—A brilliant and beautiful object, flowering from June to August, and singularly elegant from its heads of rich, violet flowers, and smooth, shining, fleshy foliage.
Hydrángea japónica.-- This new and fine species, which we have already given a full account of, with an engraving (p. 123), is a rich addition in the early part of the summer. Its heads of blue and white flowers attract universal admiration.
Thunbergia chrysops.-A climbing plant of peculiar beauty. Rather shy in blooming, but well repaying for all the care to bring it into a flowering state. This is done by encouraging the plants to grow freely early in the season, and then to commence stopping the shoots as soon as they attain the length of three or four inches. In this way, we have succeeded in producing a fine display of flowers. Its cærulean.petals, with a golden eye, are charmingly beautisul.
Passiflòra fràgrans.-A highly fragrant species, with very beautiful flɔwers, and blooming freely, if traiŋed up to a neat trellis. It should be in every good collection.
Campanula grandis.—A very showy plant, attaining the height of five or six feet when well grown; and clothed with flowers from the pot up. We have already fully described this, and given an article on its treatment, (XII. p. 346).
Lisianthus Russelliànus is also a very fine plant, though rather difficult to manage well : when grown in perfection, its numerous deep-blue flowers contribute much to the beauty of the greenhouse.
Our list could be easily extended with other plants, many of which are already familiar to cultivators. We have no space to enumerate more at this time; but, at another opportunity, we shall name several new kinds which have just been introduced, and which are stated to be fine objects as snmmer and fall flowering plants.