The Dutch gardener: or, The compleat florist (1711)
Henrik van Oosten (trans. D. Midwinter?)
How Tulips must be sowed.
The Tulip, so called from the Turbant of the Turks, is justly styl'd the Queen of Flowers, and the chief Jewel of Flora. This noble Flower must be sown in the Month of September, from ripe Seed, in Ground well dung'd, according to Art, and such wherein you might raise Greens or Kitchin-Herbs. It must be tollerably light, and in an open Air; for the Seed cannot raise it self through heavy Ground, which would cause it to rot, and the Sower would lose his Labour.
What single Colours are most proper to produce the best Tulips.
In the foregoing Chapter we have said in what Ground the Seed of Tulips must be sowed after it is full ripe; now we must observe which Colours are most proper for sowing, and will produce the best and clearest Colours. The Brownest are esteemed the best for this Purpose; for when the White comes to play through these heavy Colours, it gives immediately to them a fine Lustre and Beauty, which makes them highly valu'd by the Curious. But because it is too soon yet to speak of Colours, we will defer it for the present, and give hereafter to all Florists sufficient Satisfaction therein.
What Tamises and Cups are best for Seed.
Tamises are those Parts of Tulips that growing within the Cup, stand round about the Seed Vessel like Watch-Men. The Cup is the Flower it self, consisting commonly of six Leaves. The handsomest are those that have Leaves round above, and do not turn much about, but stand up round when they are open. The Cup must be black, purple, red, or brown, but by no Means yellow; for the Yellowness gives a Faintness to the Tulip, that dulls the Gloss of the Colours, and takes off mightily from its Lustre and Beauty. And because Nature is commonly prone to produce its like, a Lover of Tulips must strive to make use of the most perfect of each Sort, if he desire to reap the Fruit of his long and expensive Labour.
From what Tulips 'tis best to choose the Seed; and whether the striped, and those that have
already chang'd their Colour, be fitter for it than the single-colour'd ones.
The best Bottoms of the Cups of Tulips to get Seed of, are the white and yellow; Experience having taught us, that the Tulips that have such Bottoms sooner change from one to two Colours, than those whose Bottoms are black, which remain always of the same Colour; and tho' they seem to promise something in one Year, they are, and remain uncertain, because the Bottom is Master of the Colours which they seem to be willing to receive. All other Colours are not so hard to change as the black; and the Tulips follow those Colours that have the Predominancy in the Bottom. Whether we should strive to get Seed of the changed and striped Tulips, or not, is yet undecided by the Curious; some commend these, and other others. I think the Single-colour'd best, and most Florists are of this Opinion; because the Tulip that is already changed and striped, is subject to mix its Colours together: And this is the Reason why the single Colours that come from them are not so strong as those that are produc'd from the Single-colour'd; and for this Reason the Curious esteem them most.
In what Wind and at what Time of the Moon 'tis best to sow Tulips.
I Have found, as a certain French Writer also says, that Tulips are best sowed when the Wind's at North; whereof he gives this Reason, That notwithstanding the North Wind is very rough, yet it feeds the Tulip, and makes it bring forth stronger Colours. This I have not only experienc'd to be true, but have also found that it conduces to make the Plant take the better, and yield the greater Number of Off-sets. The true and common Opinion of the Florists is, That the best Sowing-time is in the Decrease of the Moon, and that almost for the same Reason as is given of the Wind, and because Tulips seek and love Drought, for what Reason I cannot tell, but only say that I have found it so.
What Seedlings must be kept, to get good Variety.
This is of great Concern, and must be very well minded. The Bottom and the Tamises of the Tulip shew what they will be in Time. All those that have yellow Tamises are not good, and may be thrown away: For a Tamis that is once yellow never changes its Colour, but always remains yellow; and this being one of the greatest Imperfections in a Tulip, and taking away the Ornament of the Flower, by causing an unpleasant Faintness in it, contaminates also the Bottom by the Dust of the Tamis: Therefore it is impossible to get any Good out of it, for that Imperfection always remains. But to get good Flowers out of single Colours, you must see that they have a clear white Bottom, or else that they be of Gold Colour; not black, for that doth not change, but remains always black. Concerning the Colours of the Cups of Tulips, you need not so much mind whether they be fair, deep or pale, if the Bottom and the Tamis be but neat; for these alone shew what the Plant will perform or not. The oliv'd colour'd and parrot Green that often come among the Seedlings, must go without Distinction to the Dunghill.