Gardeners' Chronicle 27(689): 147-148 (Mar 10, 1900)
A. Worsley, Mandeville House; Isleworth, February, 1900.

I HAVE to record an exceptional and disastrous year so far as weather conditions are concerned, the most disastrous, in fact, of which I have any record. The first five months of the year were generally favourable to vegetation; February being the mildest in my records, and the spring-flowering bulbs in the open beds and borders did well. June gave unfavourable conditions, with drought and excessive diurnal range of temperature. July and August brought us very exceptional weather, against which it was hopeless to combat. The extreme drought completely desiccated the soil to the depth of several feet, and the intense heat and aridity of the air seared and withered up all vegetation. Both months had the highest maximum temperatures of which I have any records; that of July being only fractionally below 80°, and that of August being 81°. The diurnal range was frequently 30° to 40° for many consecutive days. In some cases deciduous trees cast their leaves in August, leaving their branches bare of all semblance of foliage, and the lawns became indistinguishable in colour from the high roads. Under such conditions all summer-flowering plants were, of course, hopelessly handicapped.

The autumn was generally favourable, but we suffered much from artificially-created fogs. The rainfall for the year was 19.98 in. The average maximum 60°; the absolute maximum being 93°, and the absolute minimum 15° (December, 1899). On forty-six days during the year the shade temperature reached 80°, which is fully twice the average number of days on which such high temperatures are annually reached.

We had one exceptional maximum shade-reading of 65° on February 11. The long protracted drought, which bad lasted for two and a half years, was broken up early in November by copious rains.

I noticed during October and December that the area afflicted by artificially-made London smoke fogs had extended several miles westward. Previously I had sometimes noticed distinct yellowness in the fogs, and consequent less of light, but never until the October of 1899 had a genuine dry smoke fog reached out so many miles. In December the same abomination was inflicted upon us again and again. During the past winter (1898-1899) no excessive frost occurred, the lowest temperature, 21°, being in March. Hence I have not to record any losses among the doubtfully hardy plants.

Among the new or rare plants which flowered with me this past year, I may mention a gigantic Crinum which came to me under the very good descriptive name of "campanulatum." [This is far removed from the C. campanulatum of Herbert.] It is an undescribed species allied to C. latifolium. Crinum Wimbushi, another species allied to C. paucifloram, but more floriferous; coming from Kota Kota by Lake Nyassa. Crinum Yemense, a good thing, and new I believe to British though not to continental gardens; this shows alliance with C. brachynema, and is at least as hardy as C. Moorei, if not quite hardy. Hymenocallis "Daphne," a splendid hybrid raised by Mr. Van Tubergen, of Haarlem. This is distinct from H. macrostephana, and is one of the finest forms in the whole genus. Hymenocallis schizostephana, a new species of which you have already published a description, and of which I am sending you a figure. Hyline Worsleyi, a new species in a genus hitherto considered monotypic. Zephyrites elliptica, a new specimen subgenerically distinct from the Mexican Zephyranthes macrosiphon. Habranthus advenum, a species common for many years in catalogues, but which appears very difficult to flower in this climate; this September a couple of bulbs flowered in the open. Hippeastrum organense and H. Correiensis, two interesting epiphytes from the Organ Mountains, highly prized in the days when Mrs. Bury compiled her Hexandrian Plants, but long since lost. These flowered freely. Lycoris cyrtanthiflora, a new species allied to L. sanguinea. Callispsyche mirabilis, this has been known for thirty years, but is still very rare, and is new to my collection. Brodiaea (Triteleia) aurea, a delicately minute species, but of considerable hardyness. After being treated as a hardy plant throughout the winter, it flowered in the open in May. The foliage will withstand 17° of frost without damage.

Among those plant-monstrosities which occur from time to time, and which furnish opportunities for the perpetuation of such divergencies from the type, I may mention during the past year observing a flower of Iris chinensis with four falls and four standards; a flower of Brunsvigia Josephinae with ten segments and ten stamens; and also a flower of Agapanthus umbellatus with twelve segments and stamens, but apparently only one style. This latter, on being self-fertilised, however, produced two distinct fruits, from which it would appear that there must have really been two styles cohering. I have cultivated Agapanthus umbellatus for a number of years, but have never succeeded in raising fertile seeds. The so-called seedling forms common on the Continent seem to be seedlings of another species of Agapanthus, being hardy, and much dwarfer, and narrower in the leaf; these also seed with me. Iris tuberosa must be ranked as hardy; this April its flowers expanded in perfection after a frosty night. Eucharis Lehmanni has proved itself to be a "good" species, as it comes true from seed; the seedlings flowered two years from sowing. Brodiaea (Triteleia) Sellowiana, a new species, showing an alliance with B. uniflora. This is a single-flowered species of a brilliant chrome-yellow colour, and, if sufficiently hardy, will make a splendid companion for B. uniflora.

Among seeds raised for purposes of determination and comparison, I may mention those of Hymenocallis speciosa, Acis autumnalis, and Lycoris cyrtanthiflora. The seeds of this latter plant are not true to the descriptions given of Lycoris seeds, so that unless some mistake has arisen in past times it would seem that we have more than one genus included under Lycoris.

Many Amaryllids are of great value for outside decorative effect during summer and early autumn. Among such I may mention Crinum Moorei, which, if given a shady position under big trees, and protected from wind, blooms in perfection and lasts far longer than under glass. Among the Lycoris which have been in the open ground for five years, L. squamigera again produced over 100 flower-scapes (averaging from five to eight flowers to the scape), and L. cyrtanthiflora, eight scapes. This latter species is not, however, suited for outside work, as it is not effective, and the flowers bleach in a single day. L. aurea and L. radiata both, failed to flower. My Brunsvigias were very disappointing last summer, not more than one in eight flowering. I cannot account for this in any way. I certainly think that Lycoris squamigera has proved itself to be a good garden plant, at any rate on dry soils. It flowers about the middle of August, and the flowering season lasts fully three weeks. Amaryllis flowers directly the Lycoris are over, so that a border containing both these bulbs should give nearly two months consecutive display of bloom.