Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, 29(765): 371-372 (May 26, 1863)
Meadow Bank, Uddingstone.

HIPPEASTERS are now generally to be found amongst collections of plants, and are increasing in public estimation every year. Those species which have been sent home from the West India Islands have reproduced seedlings infinitely superior in substance, more brilliant in colour, and of finer formation in both sepals and petals; which must be set down to the credit of in-and-in breeding and careful selection of parentage. Nor must we forget the powerful influence exercised by the pen of Mr. Beaton, from the very time The Cottage Gardener was in its infancy, in stimulating a zest towards their more extended cultivation. His various papers, although I am only speaking from recollection, have a very distinct impression upon my mind, exhibiting as they do a perfect acquaintance with the whole genus, and conveying valuable practical hints on their cultivation. No one, not even excepting Dean Herbert himself, knew the varieties by headmark even to their minutest parentage better than he; and, as Mr. Fish has well expressed in one of his communications, his dissertations on the genus and its subdivisions constitute of itself enough to perpetuate a name.

There is first and foremost formosissima, a most beautiful velvety crimson sort with its peculiar contraction of the lower sepals which, by the way, has hitherto defied, so far as I know, all attempts at hybridisation. I have tried it in various ways with first-rate pollen, and vice versa, but to no purpose. This sort is invaluable for spring decoration, flowering generally during April in a cool house. It is an old-established favourite grown in many places where no other variety is to be found. With all the first-rate novelties there is none possessing much better substance; and therefore it has a decided claim upon our sympathies—besides it is a great favourite with the ladies.

Then there is vittata, another comparatively hardy sort, which has been the parent of a great many good seedlings, of which we believe Johnsoni is one of the oldest. The latter variety has reproduced numerous forms almost an exact counterpart of itself, the best of all the strains we have ever seen of it being Johnsoni précieuse. This variety excels the parent in quality and substance of bloom, and is likely to make an excellent sort to breed from. We have pods of it now by the pollen of marginata conspicua, which will in all likelihood have some progeny fair to look upon.

Then there is solandraeflora, a long-tubed sort, very interesting and beautiful, which now also has a good many representatives, of which Graveana, Crocea grandiflora, and Delicata may be said to be the best and most prominent. Marginata grandiflora also partakes of this same type, and all are exceedingly large as individual flowers and free growers.

There is aulica, an evergreen, requiring exactly the same treatment as Vallota purpurea, but rather more tender, and would suffer in a temperature which Vallota would tide over with impunity. If there is any use in recording a protest against the nomenclature, not universal nor general, but special as in this instance, why is this brilliant orange-scarlet Vallota called purpurea? There is nothing about it, so far as I can see, to justify the name; and the sooner it is changed the less queries will be suggested about it. Occasionally people who have no pretension to the knowledge of plants have been surprised why it should have been christened with a meaningless cognomen.

It is strange that this Vallota will not intercross with any of the Amaryllises. I have dozens of times tried it upon the stigma of free-setting sorts, such as Ackermanni pulcherrima. Marginata conspicua, Johnsoni, and others, with no good results. I was the less surprised at no effects on such sorts as organensis, Ackermanni, and grandiflora, because the scape of any of them never produces more than two flowers; but on such sorts as those above mentioned, which often produce four flowers, there was more room for comment.

One variety which found its way into our collection by a fortuitous occurrence, and which turns out to be something very distinct and fine, throwing up, as it has done this season, two flower-scapes, each producing eight flowers, seemed to be a sort that would suit Vallota; but after two or three careful pollen-applications both ways, there is nothing signified but barren results. I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that formosissima and this Vallota will not hybridise; and I should like very much to know if any of the readers of the Journal have ever tried and been successful with either or both of these. I know Mr. Beaton declared long since that neither he nor anybody else could hybridise formosissima.

All the other sorts, with one or two unimportant exceptions, seed freely by intercrossing, and thousands of seedlings can be raised at will.

The following are the sorts that have been proved and found to be the very best out of a numerous collection.

Ackermanni pulcherrima.—A very intense crimson of extra fine substance, producing four flowers from the scape. Form very good. This sort is easily known from having a round flattish bulb, something like the form of the Danvers Onion.

Ackermanni.—This is a bi-flowered sort, possessing a vigorous habit, and producing flowers often measuring 7 inches across. The form of this is not of the first style of excellence, but it is altogether a good ornamental sort of rich substance.

Bierii.—This is one of the finest-formed of the whole race of them, but a little deficient in substance. Colour white and pink, beautifully suffused; something in the way of marginata conspicua, Dut paier. It is a very free bloomer, producing from four to six flowers in the scape. Its foliage it very handsome, being of an olive-brown hue with faint purple veining, and it is distinguishable at first sight, although not in bloom.

Crocea grandiflora.—A fine orange-scarlet of good substance, with a dash of white at the base of the sepals and petals. Very showy.

Delicata.—Scarlet and white, with fine ornamental foliage, being banded with a broad undefined stripe of white down the centre of each leaf. Much the best of this colour. It is, however, rather a shy breeder, and is somewhat refractory, if I may so use the expression, in its reproductive tendencies,

Gigantea.—A very distinct sort of good form, the nearest approach to a scarlet self of any kind known to me. It grows freely with liberal treatment, but is about the easiest to kill of any in cultivation.

Graveana.—An immense-growing sort, generally producing four flowers of great size and good substance. It is the best fellow for Ackermanni in point of vigour of growth and size of bloom of any in our collection. It is an improvement upon Crocea grandiflora, and I reckon it much the best form and substance of the Solandraeflora section.

Holfordi.—Scarlet and white well "washed" together, producing an agreeable whole. Substance very good, and form also. This is a tolerably free grower to be so much in-and-in bred, and may be safely added to any collection.

Intermixta latipetala.—This is a very good crimson-scarlet self of the four-flowered section, rather shy in habit, and possesses no great tendency to multiply itself by offshoots.

Johnsoni précieuse, a fine, broad-petalled and sepalled variety of Johnsoni, of rich substance, with a band of white, much more clearly defined than in the old variety, running down the centre of each petal to the extremity. This and another one named vera, are much the best of the Johnsoni strain.

Marginata conspicua.—This is an exceedingly free-growing and prolific-flowering sort of the most handsome appearance, which everybody who grows bulbs should have. It is a white ground colour feathered with rose and crimson stripes, of excellent substance and good form. It seldom produces from the scape more than four flowers; but it blooms freely over the season.

Marginata grandiflora.—This is a long-tubed, very pale variety, rather more delicate than the other marginata, but is well deserving of a place. Ground colour white, with faint rose stripes over all the surface.

Marginata venusta.—It is not easy to distinguish this from conspicua, but it is the more rare, and, upon the whole, the better formed of the two. Some attribute their difference to a slight perfume in favour of the one in question, but my olfactory nerves were never sensible to any such sensation.

Monsieur Van den Heche.—A large bi-flowered sort of the grandiflora order. Its form is good, but it is deficient in substance.

Psittacina Johnsoni.—A large, free-flowering sort, crimson and white finely blended, of good substance, and excellent form. This variety is probably the most prolific in flowering of the whole race, throwing up as many as three stems from one bulb, generally producing four flowers on each.

Psittacina vittata.—This is a lighter variety, partaking of the same character as the above, but more allied to the true vittata than the preceding one. Both, however, are excellent sorts, of fine form.

Venosa grandiflora is a very handsome-growing species, producing numerous offshoots. Flowers finely veined with crimson; large and fine.

Wheeleri.—This is a very wide-spreading sort, of very rich crimson colour and good substance. It is straggling in petal and sepal, but measures somewhere about 7 inches across, and is, therefore, well adapted for decorative purposes, although its merits will not pass muster before the Floral Committee.

We have recently added Eclipse, Hawkensiana, and Unique, which have passed muster as acquisitions in their way.

Opon the whole, the field is promising, for judging from the acquisitions that have been made when their cultivation was only limited to a few enthusiasts, we may anticipate great things now that ladies and gentlemen see their decorative value, and the ease with which they can be cultivated.—JAS. ANDERSON, Meadow Bank, Uddingstone.