The Cottage Gardener 10: 359-362 (Aug. 11, 1853)

HARDY AND HALF-HARDY BULBS.

Donald Beaton

HYDROTAENIA MELEAGRIS.

THIS is one of the most curious flowers belonging to the natural order of Irids, and is as easy to grow as a Tigridia, to which it is very nearly related, looking just as if it were a cross between Tigridia and Fritillaria, if that were possible, which it is not, the two being in two different natural orders.

The flowers are purple, chiefly spotted with yellow. and shaded or marked with grey and violet; one of those exquisite pencillings which must be brought close to the eye before the real beauty can be seen or appreciated Dr. Lindley, who named this plant (Fluid Band) a few years since, from a triangular band at the bottom of the petals, from which honey is secreted, goes on to say, that "the curious watery band which glitters as if covered with dew, or as if constructed out of broken rock crystal, is one of the most curious I know." The bulb is a native of Mexico, from the mountains near the Real del Monte mines, and, therefore, is a hardy frame bulb in this country; but the right way to treat it is in every respect the same as with the common Tigridia, only that it will not stand forcing into early growth in the spring like Tigridia. It will grow in ally good, light, garden soil, and ought to be taken up late in October, kept. dry all the winter, and planted four inches deep any time in March or April, and then it flowers in a good long succession in July and August, on rigid stems rising eighteen inches high, and, if the weather is not too wet at the time, seeds will ripen before the end of the season. The colour of this flower is mistakenly said to be yellow in our DICTIONARY; but there is a yellow-flowering kind from Lima, called lobata, said to be in our gardens, but I know nothing about it.

HYMENOCALLIS.

This is one of the most expressive names we have among all the bulbs, the literal translation of it being The beautiful union cup. It was a happy idea of the late Mr. Salisbury, to compare the union of the snow-white nectarium, or coronet or centre-cup to the bottom of this flower, itself equally white and pure, to the union on the hymeneal altar.

In the last volume, at page 320, I went a little out of the way to question the validity of the genus Choretis, and showed the very small way it differed red from a true Hymenocallis, but I shall go much farther to-day in quest of other branches of the family. The headquarters of Hymenocallis are in the hottest part of the globe, along the coast between Caraccas and Carthagena, where the species attain their highest development; large, pure white, with very large coronets, broad, strongly-veined leaves that rise on distinct foot-stalks, as speciosa, Guianensis, and amoena, alias Pancratium amoenum, of our old stoves, with their numerous varieties, but as they travel either to the south or to the north, they take such different forms and colours to suit the peculiarities of the countries and climates they inhabit as have misled the most learned, and hence such names as Choretis, Elisena, Callithamno, and Ismene, and, probably, Eurycles, with Eucrosia. If we, then, add to these the attempt recently made by Dr. Lindley, to unite Hymenocallis to the Pancratiums of the Old World, we shall have an assemblage of such beautiful and graceful forms, such delicious perfumes, and such varied colours, as the Tulip presents. For the present, however, it is sufficient for our purpose to know that the true Hymenocallises reach as far north as Virginia; that these hardy bulbs will cross freely, and have been so crossed with the finest and most perfect of the stove species, amoena, and speciosa, and this, like the Cape Crinum longiflorum, and the great Columnar Asiatic species produce half-hardy, and much improved races; and that, although hitherto no Ismene has been got to cross with any of the true Hymenocallis, there does not appear any impediment to such a cross, since Elisene and Choretis have been discovered, both of which seem to be as much related to the old Amancaes on the one hand, as to Hymenocallis on the other; in fact, the intervening links through which the most perfectly yellow, and the best yellow bulb (Ismene amancaes) of the whole American continent, seem destined to unite with the most beautiful and fragrant white flowers of either the Old or New World, for the production of new, valuable, half-hardy races, as varied in their aspects as those of Narcissus itself. Besides, if it should turn out that Callithauma is really an Ismene, dressed in emerald-green, see what endless variations are yet locked up from us in a few wild flowers, and these capable of being rendered more hardy at every turn of the cross.

All the old gardeners must recollect the dozens and dozens of them called Pancratium amoenum, fragrans, or speciosum, that used to be grown in No. 16 pots, in the pine stoves, five-and-twenty years ago. That beautiful and most fragrant flower is still the best in the genus, which is now called Hymenecallis, and Speciosa is the true name for it.

All the Pancratiums belong to the Old World, all of them prefer dry to wet ground in a state of nature, and all of them have dry, black, shelly seeds. In these particulars they differ widely from Hymenocallis, which are all natives of the New World, prefer damp and even swampy soil to dry, and their seeds are more like soft round beans than anything else: but, notwithstanding all that, and even with the knowledge of the habit and the habitation of a bulb in either genus, there is not a man who can tell the one from the other in the absence of the seed. No wonder, therefore, that some of our best living authors, having had to deal with new plants, without a knowledge of the seeds, have made wide mistakes in Hymenocallis and its allied branches, as we shall see under the description of some of the species.

All the species of Hymenocallis proper will do better in rich, heavy land, such as would grow beans well; and the stove ones will endure, and even enjoy, a stronger heat than the Pine-apple, if they have a constant supply of water at the roots, by having the pots kept in saucers of water all the summer; and the ones from Guatemala, Mexico, and Florida, will thrive better if the pots and bulbs are plunged in water for three or four months in the summer; and I am half convinced that most of them might be grown in water-glasses, like Hyacinths, and would flower as freely as possible during the summer that way. I had more than enough of H. Harrisiana, direct from Mexico, and the first of them that flowered in England was in pure water in it succulent house, by way of experiment, and with the great force of growth the seed pods split almost before the flowers faded, which was thought at the time to be a peculiarity belonging only to this one species, as is stated in the "Botanical Register," where it is first described; but I suspect that the water culture in summer would stimulate all of them to freer growth—at least, I never found one of the family that would refuse to grow with a saucer of water under the pot.

From the limited knowledge we possess of many new plants, when they are first described in botanical works, especially those from the north of India, from Mexico, and Peru, where stove, greenhouse, and almost hardy plants, grow within short distances of each other, we are often led astray in which department to register our new plant. Stove plants are thus called greenhouse plants, and some that are all but hardy are referred to the stove, only because it so happened that the plant succeeded so far in the stove—then, when a compiler wishes to make out a catalogue or dictionary of plants, he must take them as they were first described in books of authority, whether they were right or wrong, except where he happens to know more of them than the first authors. All the greenhouse species of Hymenocallis in our DICTIONARY are right, except ovalifolia, which is a high stove kind, that has been lost for years; but among the stove species are some that are as hardy as to have stood out-of-doors in England for nearly twenty years, flowered every summer, and ripened seeds in abundance, yet they were marked as stove plants on their first coming. I shall not mention one, however, which I do not know would live in a greenhouse all the year round.

HYMENOCALLIS ADNATA.—This is the head of a race of very beautiful hardy bulbs, or all but hardy, natives of the more temperate parts of Mexico, and all aquatic, or half-aquatic bulbs—that is, if they are cultivated in pots, they ought to be plunged in water from the end of April to October, and only receive common pot culture in a frame or greenhouse through the winter; but the best way would be, to plant them by the side of shallow water, setting them as low in the mud as that the frost would not hurt them. The way to know the varieties of adnata—and perhaps there are many more of them to be introduced—is very simple: the bottom of the coronet adheres (adnata) to the flower or limb in every one of them, while in all the others it is free. A stove species, called expansa, is the very opposite to adnata—the flower of expansa opens so wide that it seems as if it were going to roll backwards, and the coronet stands out in the centre, looking more like the real flower than a nectarian appendage; in adnata the two cannot be separated, because they are glued together, as it were, all round the bottom. The usual name by which adnata is known in our gardens is Mexicana; the flower is all white, and the coronet is divided by deep slits. Dr. Herbert had it planted out in front of a stove, where the snow lay on it for some weeks, the first winter, without killing the leaves, and it blossomed in a large tuft for nearly twenty years, without any covering in winter all that time, but it had large doses of water in the summer. As many as sixteen flowers would come on a scape.

HYMENOCALLIS ACUTIFOLIA.—This is but a variety of adnata, alias Mexicana, with narrow leaves, and the coronet not so much cut. It is a hardy greenhouse aquatic, that would flower out-of-doors plunged in a cistern, where it likes to remain all the year round, whether in or out. This beautiful bulb would grow and flower in a sitting-room, in a jar or glass of water, half filled with moss, and look very interesting.

HYMENOCALLIS STAPLESIANA.—Named after Mr. Staples, who sent it, and many other novelties, to Mr. S. Tate, of Sloane Street. It is the hardiest of all the adnates, and differs from the others only in the relative length of the tube of the flower, and by the long leaves being much narrower at the bottom. It makes as many offsets as a Coburgia. A bulb of it, from the front wall of the stove, standing before adnata, No. 1, grew for years with such luxuriance as to almost overpower the bulbs behind it, the leaves rising two feet high, the plant flowering and ripening seeds every year. Another bulb of it in a pot, set in a pond, grew still more vigorously, indicating the preference of these bulbs to water.

HYMENOCALLIS DISTYCHA and DRIANDRI are two other varieties of adnata, to be distinguished only by botanists by slight marks of which gardeners take no account. The truth is, that if any two of these were crossed together, the produce would furnish all these varieties, and any one may be content who can now get a true Hymenocalis Americana in the nurseries; in botanic gardens, distycha, adnata, or Staplesiana, are the only names by which they are known.

HYMENOCALLIS ROTATA.—This is a very old species, of which there, are two varieties in cultivation, one from Florida, and the other from Virginia, where it grows in deep bogs; both have the coronet much wider than is usual, with a little green at the bottom, and the edges cut into teeth; in short, approaching as near to Choretis glauca, from Texas, as the difference of localities may be supposed to admit of, in a genus that ranges from Virginia to Buenos Ayres, on the one hand, and on the other up the Magdalena, across the great chain into Peru, and back again into the valley of Cusco, under some guise or other. If rotata will not cross with Chortis, let natural seedlings of both be reared, and they will cross, no doubt; then we shall get into Ismene by a side wind. In a very excellent work, got up at Birmingham, some few years ago, called "The Floricultural Cabinet," this rotata is well figured as a new plant called Ismene Knightii; so difficult it is to decide when we approach the edges of allied sections of a great family like this. The only work in which the true name is given, is Loddige's "Botanical Cabinet," plate 19. "The Botanical Magazine" calls it Pancratium rotatum, and surely by one or other of these names, it could be hunted out, for we cannot do much good in crossing without it (see Choretis).

HYMENOCALLIS CAROLINIANUM is only a name, by Catesby, for rotata. Then we have another called Panamensis which is the nearest to Harrisiana, and both like a little treat to get up their flowers, for they are not quite so hardy as those named above; but Panamensis is very sweet, and a great flowerer, and the segments into which all of them run from the limb of the flower are as long in this as in any species from within the tropics, full four inches long, and curving beautifully all round the outside of the flower; the misfortune is, that all these half-hardy bulbs have been subjected to a stove culture, by nine growers out of ten, because they looked so much like the old Pancratiums; the consequence was, that they were soon lost, and gardeners got sick of bulbs, and of all other plants that were not encouraged at exhibitions.

HYMENOCALLIS SKINNERIANA.—This is the last and newest one, I believe; but how far it may differ from the other Mexican flowers I cannot say, for I never saw it, and I have no description of it by me to see if it belongs to the adnate section.

HYPOXIS.

This is the next genus in the order of the alphabet; but I shall take the liberty to jump uver it to-day, to get to Ismene, which I have said all along is but a limb of Hymenocallis, and it seems a pity to separate so useful a limb from the main body, now that I am only speaking of the cold extremities, which remind me that speciosa, alias fragrans, amoena and Caribaea, are the best pot limbs either pot or crossing purposes.

ISMENE.

Nothing could be more to the point than to give the name Ismene to this section of Pancratioid plants. The name is that of a beautiful woman of Romance, whose father, Oedipus, a king's son, married his own mother, in a mistake, neither of them knowing each other. Two brothers to Ismene slew each other, and her mother committed suicide. The affinity of these with allied bulbs was so suspicious to the mind of Dr. Herbert, at the time he instituted this genus, that he expected, sooner or later, that, at least, some of the members of the family should be torn asunder, and come to a tragic end, just such a work as we are bent upon this very day. The genus is altogether Peruvian; those of them marked as natives of Brazil were only garden plants cultivated in Buenos Ayres; there is no record of one of them being found wild in Brazil. Every one of them, without exception, will do better with the same kind of treatment as the old Jacobaea lily (Sprekelia formosissima) than any other way; that is to say, to be planted out in front of a hothouse in April, and to be taken up about the end of October, and kept dry all the winter. Pedunculatum, and more especially Calathinum, will live out-of-doors, winter and summer, just like the Belladonnas, and flower quite as freely and much earlier; but still, they are much improved by occasional dryings and a change of soil. The great yellow Peruvian Daffodil, Ismene Amancaes, does certainly better by being taken up every year. None of them like peat or leaf mould, but they would live in pure sand for a generation if they were well supplied with water during the summer; and it is best to put in a potful of sand, and put each bulb in the middle of the sand at planting time. Another very great peculiarity belonging to them, and to Choretis as well, is that their seeds vegetate in ten or fifteen days, but never throw up a leaf the first season; a fang starts away from the seed, like as from the bulb of some kinds of Oxalis, and at the end of this fang a bulb will form as large as a wren's egg, without any sign of leaf at all the first season; and that is very likely the reason why these beautiful bulbs are not as common as the Belladonna; and the next reason for their being so scarce may be, that their cultivation has not been treated of in popular works since Sweet's time, and that most people turned them into the stove, where they soon dwindle and perish.

ISMENE AMANCAES (The Peruvian Daffodil).—This is the oldest and best known of the genus; a large, clear, yellow flower, the coronet or cup is also yellow, and nearly fills the inside of the flower, it has six green mid-ribs, and is jagged on the edges, the tube of the flower is also green, the leaves sheath at the bottom, and form a round column over the bulb. There is a beautiful sulphur-coloured cross between it and Calathina, which is figured in "The Botanical Register," vol. 20, plate 1665; and in "The Botanical Magazine" the species is called Pancratium Amancaes, vol, 30, plate 1224. It should always grow in the middle of a heap of sand, and out-of-doors, and not be planted till the beginning of May, but it will grow in a pot, and even force to flower a month earlier.

ISMENE CALATHINA.—The bulb, leaf, and growth, are very much like the last, but the plant is stronger; the flower and cup are large, and pure white; the flower is full four inches across; the tube is green, and there are six greenish stripes in the cup, as in that of Amancaes.

No one knows where it is a native of, but it is more hardy and less fastidious about sand than the last. It was first introduced from the gardens about Buenos Ayres. The seedling between it and the last is fertile, and has crossed again with the pollen of Amancaes, and a much hardier plant with a better flower is the result (see Elisena). Then, if Callithauma is really an Ismene, as Dr. Lindley thinks, we have emerald-green, golden-yellow, and the most silvery-white, to mix and vary into all possible hues, for the front borders of our greenhouses, and south walls. Add to this the delicious odours in the half-hardy, white Hymenocallis, not to mention the exquisite fragrance of H. speciosa, from the stove, and surely it is worth while to make a fresh start with the Pancratium-like bulbs, and not go on for everlasting with such trumpery things as common Tulips, and Poppy Anemones. We are all so accustomed to Latin specific names, that not one out of a thousand pronounces Calathina right; the word is of Greek origin, meaning, beautiful, and should be accented on the middle a instead of the i.

ISMENE DEFLEXA.—Another Peruvian species, with white reflexed flowers (not green), which comes the nearest to Elisene, being, as it were, the connecting link between the two genera, but in truth, Choretis glauca, and Hymenocallis rotata, are just as true links as deflexa, only we must not say so botanically; but let the cross-breeder go to work, and all these links will snap asunder like anything.

ISMENE KNIGHTII.—This is the old, beautiful, glittering, white Hymenocallis rotata, from Florida, where it grows, near Mobile, in swamps and ditches, very deep indeed in the mud; bulbs of it have been dug out from the depth of two feet.

ISMENE MACLEANA.—Named after a very worthy man, John Maclean, Esq., then in Lima. This is another large white flower, which Mr. Maclean says is one of the plants, celebrated by the Peruvians, under the name of Amancaes, and at the foot of the mountain on which it grows is held one of the greatest festivals of the Portuguese Church, at Lima, called the Festival of the Amancaes; at this festival they all wear nosegays and other ornaments made of this flower; but they put it into the stove, as usual, in the Botanic Garden, at Glasgow, to where Mr. Maclean sent it, and the probabilities are that they killed it outright. None of the family can bear the stove with impunity; they might just as well put the Scotch Thistle into the Orchid-house.

ISMENE NUTANS.—This is a book plant all over; there is not one of it in Europe, and there is not a man in Europe who knows where it came from, so the less said about it the sooner rectified, if it should not be the real thing.

ISMENE PROLIFERA of our DICTIONARY is only a seedling of the old Amancaes, which, under good cultivation, was supposed to be an improvement, and there are two or three more variations of it.

ISMENE VIRESCENS.—We missed this pretty little flower in the DICTIONARY, but it flowered with the Horticultural Society in the summer of 1840. It was sent to them from Cusco by Mr. Pentland. Many things that were sent by Mr. Pentland, from the highlands of Peru, have been lost through not knowing what temperature to give them; and very likely, some of the Fellows of the Horticultural Society, to whom Ismene virescens had been sent, soon lost it by placing it in the stove. When the flowers are in the bud they are green all over, look like so many green Coburgias, but when they open they are whitish, or greenish-white inside; rather small for this genus, but very neat, and they emit an agreeable lemon-like scent; the bulb spawns well, and is thus easily multiplied by offsets.

ISMENE VIRIDIFLORUM.—Notwithstanding the great authority of Dr. Herbert, I quite agree with Dr. Lindley, in considering Callithaumas as so many Ismenes; and here I register the type species of that green section, for the looks of the thing, and as being the species for crossing in green, while I warn the cross-breeder against viridiflorum, except by way of experiment, on Coburgias.


The Cottage Gardener 10: 398-400 (Aug. 25, 1853)

HARDY AND HALF-HARDY BULBS.

Donald Beaton

As the time is fast drawing on for potting Cape bulbs, I shall break through the rules of the alphabetical order, and group together a few other genera, as well as those which we most generally mean when we speak about Cape bulbs, because all these require much about the same kind of treatment throughout. Last week I skipped over Hypoxis in order to get Ismene in with Hymenocallis, and other sections requiring similar treatment. By following the order of the alphabet we seldom miss any plants that are worth having: but that is not at all the best way to treat of large sections of plants like that composed of bulbs. Besides, Cape bulbs are more recognised, as a whole, in our gardens and catalogues than any other set of bulbs in this series, and those belonging to the Ixia tribe, or Irids, more particularly. Of Irids in general, we shall therefore treat in a group.

HYPOXIS.

This is a genus of plants that are neither bulbs, nor Irids, nor altogether from the Cape, but, as the leaves and the flowers look as if they ought to be borne by a set of bulbous plants, the little difference in their culture from that of Irids need not separate them from our group. The handsomest kinds of Hypoxis are from the Cape of Good Hope, where, as far its I could ever learn, they are by no means very common, or in large numbers where they are met with. In a list, now before me, of a general consignment of all the kinds of bulbs that could be met with in our Cape territories during a residence of three years, and not many years since, there are only two species of Hypoxis, one of which only came to hand, and only three roots, or, rather, tubers of it, while as many as fifty bulbs were sent of some other kinds. The youngest gardener in the country knows an Ixia as soon as he sees one in flower: the oldest gardener, however, knows but a vciy few of the Hypoxids, in or out of flower; while a common observer could see no difference between the two flowers; only, perhaps, that the Hypoxids are more generally like stars than the Ixias. Each sort has six divisions in the flower,—three sepals and three petals, as they are called. When these divisions spread out wide in the full sun, if they are sharp-pointed, as in most of the Hypoxids they are, they look much in the form of a star, and like each other, yet they belong to two very different natural orders. Hypoxis, Forbesia, and Curculigo, form an order by themselves, called Hypoxids, coming very near to Amaryllids, and, like Amaryllis, they have six stamens in the flower, while all Irids have only three stamens. Then, if you flower a Cape bulb, or what they send home as such, with starry flowers, either white, orange, or yellow, with a black eye, and it has six stamens, and the looks of an Ixia, you may rest assured that it is some kind of Hypoxis. Sandy peat, with a little loam with it, suits them all. The different kinds flower from April to September,—some early, some late, and some between; and if they are grown in pots with Ixias or Gladioli, they may all be potted in the autumn, for the sake of convenience and keeping the stock together, but, otherwise, the end of February is time enough to pot them; they do better, however, out in front of a house or wall.

HYPOXIS STELLATA.—This and the next are the two best and gayest of the family. Stellata is very showy, as white as snow, with a dark spot at the bottom of each petal. It is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, flowering in April and May.

HYPOXIS ELEGANS has beautiful white flowers, like the preceding, with a dark eye. Its flowers appear early in May, and continue a long time. It is a native of the Cape.

HYPOXIS LINEARIS.—Another Cape species, and perhaps the next best, or, at least, the best of the light yellow ones. It is a brilliant orange colour, and the plant is all but hardy. I think these three could be bought in the bulb shops in London.

HYPOXIS SERRATA comes nearest to the preceding, but the flowers are smaller, and keep on in succession much longer.

HYPOXIS STELLIPILIS.—A Cape species, with small, golden-yellow flowers, which blow almost all the summer.

HYPOXIS ROOPERII.—A very strong kind from the Cape, with large, golden-yellow flowers. This is on a par with linearis in beauty, and is the newest of the genus, being made known since the genus was printed for our DICTIONARY. It was sent home by Captain Rooper, in 1848 and flowered first by the Rev. T. Rooper, of Wick Hill, near Brighton. There is a very good figure of it, with all its history and descriptions, in the Garden Companion for last year.

HYPOXIS ERECTA.—This is quite hardy, being a native of North America. It is not uncommon in peat borders, and large patches of it will look well, and keep a long time in flower. The flowers are yellow, and are produced in great abundance. The tubers of this plant are in repute among the North American natives for several cures.

HYPOXIS CAROLINEA and JUNCEA are two more North Americans, with yellow flowers, which appear in June and July.

HYPOXIS VILLOSA, SOBOLIFERA, and OBLIQUA—all yellow stars from the Cape, and agreeing in points of resemblance. H. VERATRIFOLIA is like them, with a harsh, hairy leaf; and H. HYGROMETRICA is from New Holland, and also with yellow flowers, There are many more of them running in the same yellow strain—elegans and stellata, with linearis and Rooperii, are the best. Every one who grows Ixias and Oxalises ought to possess these four.

IXIA.

There has been a sad carnage among the Ixias since I first remember them, but to this day most of the old gardeners hold by the names that were in use thirty years back. Babianas, Sparaxis, and Tritonias were all called Ixias in my younger days, but these divisions do not imply any difference in the cultivation of them, for they all do under the same general treatment. Yet, we must go with the tide, and learn these names, else we come short of our shares when we go to market for them. The insertion of the stamens is the only generic distinction between Ixia and Tritonia—those of Ixia being inserted at the base of the segments, while in Tritonia they rise from within the tube—a great and marked difference in the eyes of a botanist, and in his eyes only.

When they are grown in pots, nothing is so good for them as rough peat with a little sand, but in an open border, outside, very little peat is needed, if the soil is naturally light, and a little sand is put round the bulbs; the pots called 48's are the proper kinds for them; and of the largest bulbs, three may be planted in each pot, and five of the more ordinary bulbs—one in the middle of the pot, and the rest at equal distances at the sides. Any time in October will do to pot them; a cold frame is best for those in pots all the winter, and to be taken to the greenhouse, or other place, when they begin to throw up their flower stems. Some people pot them in autumn, keep them in frames till February or March, then plant them out in the balls to flower in the south borders; and that is a safe way for gardeners, but a most dangerous plan for amateurs, who may not understand if they are fit to be turned out at a particular time, or how to manage them in bad weather afterwards; therefore, upon whatever plan such people begin with them, that same plan ought to be followed out that season. Half-an-inch of soil is enough to cover them in pots, but in a border they ought to be at least four inches deep in the ground. Then, if a couple of inches of tan, leaf mould, or sifted ashes, is put over the whole as a security from frost, the depth is as much as they will safely endure.

IXIA AMOENA.—This is less showy than most of the species, therefore is not much cultivated.

IXIA ARISTATA.—A very pretty little flower, of a pale pink colour, streaked with dark purple.

IXIA AULICA.—A very handsome and desirable sort, with large rose-coloured flowers, and a strong habit.

IXIA CAPILLARIS.—A botanical plant, with greyish streaked flowers, called also morphexia.

IXIA CAPITATA.—There are many sorts under this name, all of them from cross seedlings; they grow taller than the generality of the family except flexuosa, indeed, there are two distinct sections of Ixia, but I regret my inability to make a clear, useful synopsis of them. Capitata and flexuosa, with their allies, grow much like oats, having long wiry stalks to support the flowers, and all such ought to stand in the back row in a border. The true capitata has white flowers, in a cluster, on the top of the long stalk.

IXIA COLUMELLARIS.—A pretty variegated flower, with a distinct ring in the centre a dwarf species.

IXIA CONICA.—A Very pretty, tall sort, with bright orange flowers inside, and crimson on the outside. When this flower is in bud, or closed, in dull weather, it forms a little crimson cone—hence the name.

IXIA CRATEROIDES.—Another beauty, with light crimson flowers of the largest size for the genus.

IXIA CRISPA and IXIA DUBIA and ERECTA, botanical flowers, allied to scillaris.

IXIA FLEXUOSA.—There are several varieties of this they are all beautiful, and range from white to rose and purple, in dense racemes along the top of a long flexible stalk.

IXIA HYBRIDA.—One of the varieties of flexuosa, and a good one.

IXIA INCARNATA.—A very handsome species, with large pink flowers, sometimes strongly veined.

IXIA LINEARIS.—A slender botanical plant.

IXIA LILACINA.—This is a shop name for some of the varieties of flexuosa, which are very pretty.

IXIA MACULATA.—A very handsome sort; light grey colour, with green spots at the base of the segments, or divisions of the flower, not much unlike viridiflora.

IXIA OCHROLEUCA.—A beautiful creamy-white flower, with a dark eye on long spikes.

IXIA MONADELPHIA.—A very beautiful, early kind, with flowers that vary much in colour, from light blue to orange, hut all of them marked with a ring in the centre; the stamens grow into a column, or monadelphous—hence the name.

IXIA ODORATA.—A flue, bright yellow, sweet-scented flower.

IXIA PATENS.—One of the very best of them, with large, bright crimson flowers; it comes in early, and lasts a long time.

IXIA SCILLARIS.—A small, pink, botanical flower.

IXIA VIRIDIFLORA.—This is the most beautiful flower in all the Irids, or, at least, the most unique; it belongs to the tall flexuosa section. I have seen it above twenty inches high; it is a rare shade of green all over. It is the only one of the genus I ever attempted to cross and failed; but, under good management, I think the whole family ought to be as much improved as the Sparaxis have been in Jersey. Glacina, and other varieties of flexuosa, ought, certainly, to cross with viridiflora.

TRITONIA.

This name means weather-cock, in allusion to the versatile anthers, which swing about anyway; but the bottom of the stamens being fixed inside of the tube is the great characteristic of the Tritonias, which, in all other respects are nothing else but Ixias; but, in the absence of facts brought out by crossing, I must leave them as I find them; they are too numerous, and too near each other, in every respect, for me to occupy space with a short description of each, therefore I shall only make a selection from them.

TRITONIA CROCATA.—This is the most common of all the Ixia tribe, because there is hardly such a thing as killing it, and it is nearly as hardy as a Crocus, and, like the Crocus, would make a nice dwarf edging to a border of Irids. If there was a good demand for it, they could grow it so as to be able to sell flowering roots at a farthing each, and still realise £200 on an acre of them, after paying a good rent. It is the old Ixia crocata, with large, orange-coloured flowers, and a transparent tube.

TRITONIA SQUALIDA.—The most inappropriate name in the whole Dictionary for so handsome a flower. It is large, deep-red in the centre, and whitish near the margin, also beautifully veined with. pink, and having a sweet smell.

TRITONIA DEUSTA.—A handsome flower, of a deeper colour than crocata, with a "black rock," or protuberance, at the bottom of every other segment; it is, likewise, as hardy as crocata.

TRITONIA FENESTRATA.—A handsome kind, as hardy as crocata, with orange-red flowers, of a glossy cast all over, but more particularly over the windows (fenestrata), or thin transparent blotch on the segments, from which the name is taken.

TRITONIA FUCATA.—Another beautiful, long flower, scarlet and orange, but more shy to bloom than the others.

TRITONIA ROSEA.—A handsome, but rather delicate plant, with long, tubular, pink flowers, with broad limbs, veined with pink, and some yellow spots.

TRITONIA LINEATA.—A delicate-looking flower; straw colour, tinged with orange, and veined with dark lines. Such is the cream skimmed off a score or more of them.

SPARAXIS.

From a few wild roots, this section has been multiplied, by crossing, to such an extent, as that nobody knows where they begin or end. I once ordered twenty-four kinds of them from a shop, and I flowered twenty-one out of the lot, but I could not describe one-half of them. They were exceedingly beautiful, and not a bad flower in the whole, but I found most of them to be very impatient of water in pots, and I never tried any of these very dwarf things in an out border; but in Jersey, where they cross them, or let them cross themselves, they grow, and flower, and seed, out in the open garden, as freely as Crocuses; and I think the Dutch growers took them up, and send them over with the Hyacinths. The best way to begin them is to order six or a dozen of the most distinct sorts from your London nurseryman, and leave the choice to his better skill; but, first of all, ask what he will charge for them, as, if he sends very scarce ones, he can make you pay highly.

SPARAXIS BICOLOR, TRICOLOR, VERSICOLOR, and GRANDIFLORA, the foundations of the recent tribes, are to be had in every shop as cheap as old Ixias. They also are beautiful large flowers, on dwarf plants, rich purple, with streaks and shades of lighter hues. The whole of

this race, in pots, require full one-third white sand added to the best peat, and a thorough drainage. There are a dozen more species of them from the Cape; but, like the wild Gladioli from the same quarter, the new European seedlings have rendered them of no use as garden plants.

BABIANA.

This is another section of Ixias which seem to be extremely abundant at the Cape, as one sees whole handfuls of the small bulbs of the different species come home in the usual collections. The Cape is infested with rogues, like all other foreign stations, who will sell you any plant you name, but there are people there, also, who can furnish plants and names as true as any London nurseryman.

In the list which is mentioned above, there are ninety-two species of Cape bulbs and tubers, most of which I have flowered, and found as true as if' the plants came from the best nursery in London. In that list, Mr. Pinee's new Haemanthus is called corymbosa—a Cape manufacture, certainly; and there are a few others equally absurd. There is, also, a major and minor Babiana purpurea, which we do not recognise here; but they are so in reality at the Cape, and very distinct too, Babiana rubra, and a rubra variety of this list, is our Babiana Thunbergii; and that is all the difference between the English and this Cape list out of all the plants named above.

BABIANA THUNBERGII—A bright purplish-red flower, and

BABIANA RUBRO-CYANEA, with dull red, and pale blue flowers, are the two best, and most distinct of them. Then

BABIANA PURPUREA, a purple; RINGENS, purple also, and VILLOSA, another shade of purple, are the next best; and

BABIANA DISTICHA, a bad blue, the last that is fit for a selection of them.

When we know the vast improvement made in gladiolus, and the endless variation in the Iris, we need not doubt but all these little Cape bulbs may be improved by similar means, but never having operated on Irids, except in Gladioli, I feel no confidence to recommend what kinds ought to be brought together; and to go by hearsay, or by what I or anybody else may think, is no better than the blind leading the blind; so the whole Ixia family may be said to be still an open field for crossing, except what has been done in Sparaxis, about which I am not aware of any authentic report being on record, or anything at all to guide the young beginner in this race.


The Cottage Gardener 10: 439-442 (Sept. 8, 1853)

HARDY AND HALF-HARDY BULBS.

Donald Beaton

IRIDS.

THE remaining genera of Irids, usually called Cape Bulbs, are less generally known and cultivated than those treated of in my last paper; yet, as some of them come home in all the collections made up from Cape Town, I group them here together for more ready reference, and to point them out, now that it is time to prepare them for potting.

GEISSORHIZA.

The bulbs, or bulb-like roots of this genus are small—all of them produce but four leaves to the plant, and the <gap> as that of the smaller Ixias; that is, five or seven of the roots are put in a No. 48-pot, in a. soil of two-thirds good rough peat and one-third sand. They are too small, and apt to be lost in an open border outside, so that they are seldom treated but as pot plants. Any time in October will do to pot them, and a cold frame will do to winter them. They require very little water till the leaves are three or four inches high.

GEISSORHIZA OBTOSATA.—One of the best of them, and a very pretty flower; cream-coloured, and streaked with pink lines or veins on the outside. It is usually met with in shops where they sell Ixias, and is well worth having in a collection of the tribe.

GEISSORHIZA VAGINATA.—This is the next best, anti will he preferred to the last by some. It is the strongest of the genus that are good for anything. There are three colours in the flower; the bottom, or eye, being dark purple, then a soft yellow middle, and the tips of the segments, or six divisions of the flower, are marked with a large dark blotch.

GEISSORHIZA SECUNDA.—There are three varieties of this; two are white, and one blue. The blue is the best, and is the only one of the three that is the most likely to be in the trade. It is a sky-blue, and a rather delicate plant; but it is as old and as well known as Ixia crocata, and is reckoned the best blue flower among the Ixias.

GEISSORHIZA ENCISA.—White flowers, rather small and somewhat mottled; a very distinct species.

GEISSORHIZA LAROCHEI and SETACEA are the only other two worth potting. Setacea is of a sulphur-yellow in the flower; and Rocheana, or Larochei, is a very curious little thing, with variegated flowers, which formerly went by the name of the "Plaid Ixia."

STREPTANTHERA.

There are only two species known in this genus, but these are extremely beautiful, and more hardy than the common Ixias. They are from somewhere in the interior of the Cape Colony, but I never learned from what part. It is questionable if they can be bought here at all, for few people know how to grow them when they were introduced, and I recollect when they both first came over. They will only grow well and last out in a compost of two-thirds sandy loam and one-third peat with a little sand. The great mistake with them was placing them in sandy peat, which suited the swarms of little bulbs found down near the coast. If these beautiful flowers had come to us first from Mexico, or Peru, we have them now as common as any of the Ixias, because few good growers like to give much peat, or hardly any, to small American bulbs. The anthers twist round the style in these flowers; hence the name.

STREPTANTHERA ELEGANS.—One of the most beautiful of Cape bulbs, with large Ixia-like flowers. The main colour is snow-white, but at the bottom each of the segments is richly marked with a velvety blotch of purple, reddish-brown, gold. In our DICTIONARY it is inadvertently stated that this genus had lapsed into Gladiolus. There is no affinity between the two families, further than they belong to the same order.

STREPTANTHERA CUPREA.—A coppery tinge in the flower is the only difference between this and the preceding. They flower at the same season as Ixias; that is, from the middle of April to Midsummer; and I should think they might be got somewhere in the colony, as they are such marked flowers, that shepherds could find them from the description of elegans. At all events, they are not found within the range of the Cape Town collectors, as I never heard of them coming home through them.

SPATALANTHUS SPECIOSUS.

This is really a truthful genus of itself, or <gap>
now say, for the plant has been lost more than twenty years, and has never appeared in any collection from the Cape, that we know of, from that day to this, so that it is supposed to be native of some place far away in the interior. I have heard, more than once, that it was growing not very far from Cape Town, down near the sea, to the north-east; but it is difficult to believe that any one interested in plants could pass it in flower and not wish to have it. It is fully as handsome as Streptanthera elegans, and produces abundance of flowers that are bright red, marked with a star of yellow and black in the bottom. The flower is nearly transparent, and there are three or four straw coloured bands, or stripes, on the outside, and they shine through the red on the inside like gay ribbons. This, also, ought to be diligently sought out. It flowered with us later than the Ixias in July and August; and the probability is, that it likewise would require more than half loam in the compost; but of that I am not quite so sure as I am with the Streptanthers.

All the Trichonemas do very well in loam. Indeed, the little Italian Trichonema Columnae flowered with me, last spring, in an open border that would grow Cauliflowers; and as this Spatalanthus differs very little indeed from Trichonema, the probability is that it should have more exposure than Ixias, and a light sandy loam without any peat. I am quite certain that the best peat is rank poison to a great number of delicate bulbs. Peat and leaf-mould have been the ruin of English bulb-growing for many-a-day. If you are in doubt about any delicate, rare bulb, put it into pure sand for a while, till you learn more about it. I never knew a bulb yet refuse to grow in sand for a while. Just pot a few of the best early Hyacinths in silver sand, and if they do not blossom as well as they ever did before, never try the experiment again, nor believe me, even when I tell the truth.

TRICHONEMA.

This name means hair-like filaments, in reference to the hair-like stamens. The leaves are equally slender in proportion, and you might take a cluster of them in the spring for a bunch of some kind of wiry grass. There is only one flower on a scape, and it is the same with Spatalanthus speciosus, but the scapes and flowers are numerous. Some of this genus are natives of the south of Europe; and one of them, Coelestium, is from South Carolina, in America.

TRICHONEMA BULBOCODIUM.—This is a very old and well-known hardy little bulb, which flowers a little after the spring Crocus, and it requires no more care than that does. The flowers are purplish, and so heavy that they bend the stalks to the ground; therefore, when they first rise, the little tuft ought to be staked by thrusting down three small sticks triangle-ways, and running a thread from stick to stick. This will show the flowers much better than letting them peep up from the surface of the border, as we often see them. It is a native of Spain and Italy.

TRICHONEMA ROSEUM.—A very pretty little Cape bulb, with dark crimson flowers, coming in June and July, and with very long grass-like leaves. It will do in peat and sand, like Ixias, or in sandy loam alone. In other respects treat it as Ixias.

TRICHONEMA SPECIOSUM.—The flowers are light carmine, and come early in the spring, on very slender grass-like stalks, before the leaves, it requires the same treatment as the preceding.

TRICHONEMA CAULESCENS.—A very handsome summer flower; bright yellow, with a metalic lustre.

TRICHONEMA PURPURASCENS.—A neat little purple flower from Naples. This and the following are quite hardy in a light border. They are fit associates for
<gap>

TRICHONEMA COLUMNAE.—A nice lilacy-purple flower, said to be a cross-bred plant raised in Italy. It is quite hardy.

TRICHONEMA COELESTIUM.—This is all but lost, if not lost altogether. It was the rarest bulb we had at Altyre, near Forres, in 1827, and I have not seen it since. It comes early in the spring, along with the Crocuses, and, like them, flowers before the leaves. It is a bright sky-blue flower, and lasts a long while; is perfectly hardy, and ought to be re-introduced. It is a native of South Carolina, growing there with the Atamasco lily (Zephyranthes Atamasco), and anybody might send it over if there was a call for it. There are several more of them natives of the Cape, but I think they are out of cultivation. I had a nice batch of Columnae from Mr. Sims, nurseryman, at Foot's Cray, in Kent, the spring before last, and I think he has all the hardy ones, at least.

WACHENDORFIA.

If anybody doubted that some of the little Cape bulbs would prefer sandy loam to peat, let them try any of this genus, and they will find they will grow very freely in loam that is rather less sandy than is generally used; but they are not true bulbs, although they always come home as such. Their flower scapes branch out into strong panicles of showy flowers, very unlike the way most other bulbous and tuberous-rooted plants show their flowers.

WACHENDORFIA PANICULATA.—Although this may be had in every bulb shop, and is all but hardy, and as gay and beautiful as any flower can be, no one asks for it out of a hundred, merely because the plant is not generally known. It is one of the deciduous ones, and requires rest after flowering, like Ixias, and to be potted in October, like them. It blooms in great abundance in July, or earlier; and the flowers look at a distance like some gay Wallflowers.

WACHENDORFIA HIBBERTI, not Herberti, as it is often called.—This is also deciduous, and is related to the preceding. It has pale yellow flowers on close lateral racemes—panicled, in fact. The leaves are very long for this genus. It requires the same treatment as the last.

WACHENDORFIA BREVIFOLIA.—This is an evergreen, and requires to he kept watered all the year round, and for not knowing this many lose it the first year. It has a large panicle of curious dingy-coloured flowers, but is well worth having, nevertheless.

WACHENDORFIA HIRSUTA.—Hairy all over. A deciduous plant, with flowers not unlike those of paniculata, but fewer, and not quite so gay.

There are many other species, but they are not so common, or so suitable for placing along with a collection of bulbs.

All the species of this genus are gay-looking things. Some of them are as tall, or taller, than common Gladioli, and all of them are us hardy as the new Gladioli. They are better fitted for growing out in open borders, in front of walls, or houses. Formerly, and before the Gladioli became so general, these Watsonias took their places, but now we see less of them still, they are sent home in all collections from the Cape. They are the most uniform in form and colour of all the Cape genera, the flowers being some tinge of pink or flesh colour, with a little white, in some few species. They will grow in peat borders, but they do not require any peat, as a general rule: good, rich, light loam, or the same compost of loam, leaf mould, or very rotten dung, with a little peat and sand, as they mix for the Gladioli, will do very well for them. The different species flower from May to October and generally keep <gap>

WATSONIA FULGIDA.—One of the most stately of the genus, rising three or four feet, and producing long spikes of bright reddish-pink blossoms, which hold on a long time. This, and also the tall ones, are very thirsty, and require large doses of water in summer, unless the bed is rich enough for Cauliflowers.

WATSONIA MARGINATA.—This is the next tallest of them, and there is a variety of it called minor equally tall, but with the flowers not quite so large. The flowers are of great substance, light pink, and bloom on to the end of the season if the bed is kept moist.

WATSONIA MARIANA.—A very common one in the shops, with thin, broad, Gladiolus-like leaves, and flesh-coloured flowers.

WATSONIA ROSEA.—Much like the last-named, but redder in the flower.

WATSONIA HUMILIS.—There is no humility about it, save that it is the most tractable for a pot. The flowers are very pale red.

WATSONIA SPICATA.—A very rare bulb, even at the Cape. It is the humilis of the whole family, if dwarfness was meant by that name. It is a nice pot plant, flowering with the Ixias under the same treatment.

There are many more of this genus, but there is such a family likeness among them all that the above will give a fair insight into them, besides being the best and the easiest to be got front the Cape dealers.

ANTHOLYZA AND ANISANTHUS.

ANTHOLYZA ETHIOPICA and MONTANA come very near to the Watsonias in leaf and colour of the flowers, and so do ANISANTHUS SPLENDENS and CUNONIA. These all run in the manner of Gladioli, and always are sent home in collections from the Cape. They are also to be had in bulb shops.

I think that some members of the three genera would cross and produce self-coloured seedlings that would vie with the very best of the new Gladioli. There is a great mystery in many of the Irid genera, and some are founded on such trifling distinctions that it is hard to believe them real marks of family separation. Synnotia broke down under the pollen test, and lapsed into Gladiolus; and there is a much greater looking difference between Watsonias, Antholyzas, and Anisanths. The whole race want revising by a patient cross breeder. I would no more trust a botanist with this work than I would a lawyer to revise the conditions of a lease for a framing ground.

MORAEA.

These do not often now come from the Cape; are not much cultivated; and it is very difficult to make out some of the kinds one from another. They generally run with light blue flowers, like Sisyrinchiums, or yellow flowers with Sisyrinchium-like leaves and growth. The same treatment as Watsonias will best suit them in an outside border.

VIEUSSEUXIA.

Some of these are sent over in every box of Cape bulbs. The bulbs are small in comparison to the long, slender shoots they throw up. \Vcro it not for the very short time the flowers keep open this family would lie in much repute. The "Peacock Iris," a favourite with every one who ever saw it, is one of them, being V. pavonia.

VIEUSSEUXIA OLAUCOPSIS is the next greatest favourite. These two are kept in the bulb-shops, and are always grown with Ixias; but with the peat for Ixias they soon dwindle away and die. A very light, sandy loam suits them much better, and very little water serves them at all times.

VIEUSSEUXIA VILLOSA, LURIDA, and TRICUSPIS, are the next best of them. The rest are numerous, ill-defined, and <gap>
Vieusseuxias, Sisyrinchiums, and Maricas, are among the most difficult bulbs in the world to classify. Many of them have their flowers come and go in a day so that, although some of them are exquisitely marked in the flowers, they have never gained much ground in cultivation. It is not at all improbable but some of them from all the four families would unite by the pollen; and if so, they would outdo the bulbous Irises, and look much in the same way. I never found peat to agree with any of this race.

ALBUCA AND ORNITHOGALUM.

Some of these often come over from the Cape, but there is not the least reliance to be placed on the names. They flower like wild Hyacinthus, and chiefly have white flowers. I once had a large yellow-flowering Ornithogalum from the Cape, but I never beard the right name of it. The bulbs are tender-skinned, and want plenty of sand put in round them, and they dislike peat.

LACHENALIA.

There are but very few good kinds come over of this genus, but at the Cape some of them are said to look very fine indeed. The only two of them that can be obtained in the trade, I believe, are the old L. tricolor, and a new one called aurea. Both are very good plants. The latter was bought lately by the Horticultural Society from an African traveller, who brought over several curiosities, among which was said to be the Yellow Geranium; but the "Golden Yellow Geranium," mentioned by Sweet, is yet to come.

Of all the bulbs in Africa, these Lachenalias are the worst to keep, the skin of the bulbs being so thin and tender. They ought to nestle in pure white sand, and the rest to be of pure sandy loam, which keeps them longer than peat. Tricolor is as hardy as a Crocus in constitution, and will do in any peat or loam for years. Flava, purpurea. pendula major, and minor, angustifolius, and orchioides, I have seen, more than once, come home in a general collection of Cape bulbs; and I expect flava is the same as the Society's aurea. Six or seven of their bulbs could be grown in a 48-sized pot, under the same treatment as Ixias.

TRITONIA.

At page 399, I see I missed Tritonia aurea, the newest and best of the whole family, and now a general favourite in all the Nurseries. The flower scape is branched, or panicled, and produces abundance of large golden-yellow or yolk-of-egg-coloured flowers, In pots it is often half murdered. It would require such a bed as the Ghent Alströmerias out-of-doors, and it would follow them in flowering through July and August.

There are several odds and ends of Cape bulbs yet to mention; but these, and what are given at page 398, comprise the great bulk of the small Cape bulbs. The large sorts have been treated of in the order of the alphabet, except Nerine, and a few more, which must now stand over for their turn in the alphabetical arrangement.

As a general rule, all bulbs from the Cape that are bigger than a pullet's egg should each have a pot for itself, and that only large enough to leave half-an-inch or so between the bulb, and the side of the pot. The first year, one-half of each of such bulbs may safely be left out of the soil; but after that, unless it were in the hands of good gardeners, or practical amateurs, I think all bulbs are safer to be just covered up to the neck with the soil. All these large bulbs ought to have good friable loam, and no peat or leaf mould, nor, indeed, any mixture whatever. The surface soil from an old onion bed in the kitchen garden, is far safer and better for them than the best compost one could make. I have <gap> great error was committed in treating them all, in former days, in peat, like Ixias.

People going to reside at the Cape, or in any part of the colony, and who are fond of gardening, should take with them as many of the Mexican or South American half-hardy bulbs as they can procure—for bulbs will carry from place to place like potatoes or onions, and would be safe if planted at once in the open soil. All those who have friends out there, and of whom they would ask bulbs, ought to point to the north-west of the country between Cape Town and the mouth of the Orange River. The whole of that country is all but unexplored, as far as this generation is concerned. There is one bulb somewhere in that country worth anything to a cross-breeder at Sidney—I mean the Amaryllis marginata of Jacquin; or Nerine marginata, as it is supposed to be by modern botanists. This is known from all other bulbs by a red margin to the leaves. From the southeast, along the banks of the Delagoa River, we once had a Crinum with from thirty to forty flowers, on a scape, of most beautiful purple. This is lost, and is now very much wanted to increase the beauty of our half-hardy Crinums.

The Golden Yellow Geranium we want, too, as bad as anything, but not the pale straw coloured, gaping weeds which are not worth cultivating.


The Cottage Gardener 10: 478-480 (Sept. 22, 1853)

HARDY AND HALF-HARDY BULBS.

Donald Beaton

IXIOLIRION.

IXIOLIRION MONTANUM.—This is a most beautiful hardy bulb from Syria, but being yet so scarce in Europe, it deserves the treatment and care of the half-hardy race. It goes to rest in winter, rises in the spring, and flowers with us in May, under the same treatment as the Squills; that is, in any light, rich border. The bulb is not much larger than that of a strong Dutch-grown Crocus; the stalk is from a foot to eighteen inches high, bearing long narrow leaves and bracts; the flower-stalk, or peduncle, rises from these bracts near the top, and some of them are terminal from a cluster of bracts, and they generally come in twos: the colour is a brilliant blue. Altogether, it is a fine thing for the borders in May. Col. Chesney met with it in great abundance in Palestine, and other places in the east, flowering in April, and his account of it led to the supposition, in this country, that it must have been the "Lily of the Field" referred to in the Sermon on the Mount. The white Lily (L. candidum) could not be the one alluded to, as was long believed, because none or the multitude could know that plant, it not being a native of any part of Syria. The "Lily of the Field" is now, by common consent, believed to be the scarlet Chalcedonian Lily, which grows in abundance about Galilee, and all around those parts. Our Ixiolirion montanum was sent to Dr. Herbert, from Damascus or Aleppo, by Mr. Cartwright, and flowered with him ill May 1841 or 1845, I forget which, but he told me, with as much pleasure as a schoolboy would, that he left it in bloom at home, when he came up to the May show at Chiswick, where he sometimes assisted the judges; it also seeded with him; hut I have not heard of it since, and I much doubt whether we have it now or not.

IXIOLIRION TARTARICUM.—This is rather smaller in all the parts than montanum, and there are slight differences of botanical separation between the two; yet all that may have been owing to the difference of soil and situation where this was found on the Altai range.

IXIOLIRION SCYTHICUM is another of them, but a much smaller plant than the other two. They were all referred to Amaryllis by those botanists who first discovered them; but Dr. Fischer, of St. Petersburgh, divided them from that group and named the genus. The three are probably in the Russian botanic collections; they are well worth inquiring after. Some of our consuls in the east might fish them out of the troubled waters after political storms subside. What a nice group these Ixiolirions would make, in a border, with such blue flowers as Camassia esculenta, from North America; the Cummingias, from Chili; the Dianellas, from New Holland, and the Squills, of our own land.

LACHENALIA.

Very few of them are now grown, or worth growing. They do not pay for their keep, being so touchy and liable to rot off; but as some of them are sent home occasionally in collections from the Cape, and as they require much about time same pot-treatment as Ixias, I thought it as well to name a few of them among the Ixia tribe, and I would further add here, that the more bulbs of them one can cram into a pot the safer they are and that the rare kinds should be surrounded with the best silver sand, and not be deep planted.

LEUCOCORYNE.

This genus was separated from Brodiaea, by Dr. Lindley, chiefly on account of three of thes stamens being barren. Two of them, odorata and alliacea, have white flowers, about the size of Crocus flowers, and Ixioides is a light, blue flower, as pretty as any one could wish for. They are natives of the south of Chili, and all but hardy, and also all but impracticable to keep any length of time under ordinary cultivation. There are some flowers from Texas which seem on a par with them, the Cobaea and Pentstemon, for instance. Extreme cold at the roots when they are growing, very warm overhead at the same time, and a scorching heat both for top and bottom when at rest, are the conditions under which they flourish in a state of nature. Mr. W. Rae, the collector sent out by the Horticultural Society, found odorata in bloom high up in the south of Chili, where the snow had melted only a few days before. I have seen the Cloudberry myself in flower by the thousands, with a collar of snow about the flower-stalks, in May, and the sun so hot that the top of the snow felt quite warm; there was a rush of water from the snow at the time, and for the next month, which made the ground next thing to a swamp, and as cold as ice. Yet those flowers will not stand more frost overhead than Strawberries, if so much.

No gardener has ever yet been able to cultivate the Cloudberry as a fruit plant. The fruit is about the same size, shape, and colour as the Roseberry Strawberry. Few gardeners can manage Pentstemon and Cobaea; and, I believe, fewer still the Leucocorynes, and bulbs of such habits. I have grown Ixioides myself as well as it ever was or will be, by placing the bare bulbs on a slate shelf, covered with an inch of sand all over, and from end to end, the sand being constantly wet all the summer from watering the pots of other plants which stood on the stage.

I think I have mentioned already having flowered Coburgias, and other bulbs, that are very shy to bloom, on this shelf.

LEDEBOURIA HYACINTHINA

This is a very pretty north-of-India bulb; a half-Ixia, half-Amaryllis plant, like Brodiaea and Leucocoryne, to both of which it is very nearly related, and will flower as easily as the now common Brodiaea grandiflora; but I cannot trace it to any collection, and I am not sure if it is now in the country. Can any one tell me?

LIBERTIA.

These are not actually bulbs, but they look as if they ought to be bulbs, and might be grown in a border, without prejudice to a collection of bulbs. They are Iris-looking plants, with the flowers shaped as in the Peacock-Iris, or Sisyrinchiums and Cypellas. They grow in either peat or sandy loam; formosa, the Chilian plant, is all but hardy, if not quite so. The Australian ones, frame plants, that would grow and flower out-of-doors during the summer. Mr. Anderson, who sent home Fuchsia macrophylla, found Libertia formosa in the Island of Chiloe, growing down to the edge of the tide, whence he sent it, and other curiosities, to Mr. Low, of the Clapton nursery, more than twenty years ago. Grandiflora is an older plant from New Zealand; paniculata, fine, and pulchella, from New Holland, are quite as gay as any of their allies, the Moraeas, from the Cape; paniculata, and the snow-white flowers of formosa, would make a desirable cross, besides rendering the panicled breed more hardy. It will be difficult to find them in collections, as they go under various names, as Sisyrinchium, Moraea, Marica, and Iris.

LILIUM.

The true lilies are so well known, and their proper cultivation so generally understood, that I need not dwell on them particularly as hardy bulbs. The Japan longiflorum and eximium, with the varieties of speciosum, now called the Japan Lilies, and the great Indian Lily, giganteum, which are the chief that would fall into my province, have all been treated of already in these pages; besides, Mr. Appleby has a very good paper on Lilies in general, in a former volume, so that I am forstalled in that direction.

MARICA.

This genus, with its beautiful ephemeral flowers of a day, is also out of my beat here. They are neither bulbs nor half-hardy, but stove-plants, with the habits of the common Iris; yet I have seen them growing out-of-doors in summer, and I believe the greenhouse is the proper place for them during seven or eight months in the year. They all require strong, rich loam, and in that the greenhouse is too cold for them in winter; and in the spring they delight in the strong moist heat of the stove, up to May. Marica caerulea and Northiana, are two as beautiful flowers as we can grow, but, unfortunately, they only last a few hours, and only two or three in a day; although, strong, old plants of them keep throwing up a daily succession of them for some weeks.

MASSONIA.

The only beauty in all the Massonias is in their broad recumbent leaves, two of them only coming at a growth, or in one season. These lie flat on the pot or border, right and left, and from between them rise a host of small white flowers in a cluster, with hardly the semblance of a scape or stalk. Angustifolia, an odd one we missed in THE DICTIONARY, has the leaves upright, and not so broad as in the others. Paubenyas are only coloured Massonias, as far as gardeners are concerned. All of them delight in rich sandy loam, and grow in winter with us.

MELANTHIUM.

This has been an ill-used genus; after being named from the dark and dingy flowers, the species with such tints have been weeded out of it, and named Wurmbea, yet no one sees Melanths in cultivation in these days at best, they are only botanical plants, with Ixia-like leaves, short spikes, of small inconspicuous flowers, and slender bulbs, requiring about equal parts of peat, and loam, and pot-culture.

MILLIA.

MILLIA BIFLORA.—This is really a very beautiful plant with large white flowers as pure white as snow; they last a long time, and come in succession, and they are as hardy as to live out-of-doors with a slight protection. The name Biflora is very great mistake, by Cavanilles, I believe. I never saw one without four flowers in the umbel, and the peduncle is three or four inches long. The Horticultural Society introduced it from Mexico, and spread it far and wide among the fellows; and if ever a bulb was worth caring for this is one; it lasts a long time in bloom, and is more fitted for a south border than a pot, being long-legged and the parts slender: it will grow in any good light soil all the summer, and go to rest for five months in the winter. The other one, called uniflora, I think, has not been much tried. I never saw it, and I think there is some mistake about the naming of it.

MONTBRETTIA.

MONTBRETTIA FLEXUOSA and VIRGATA are two little flowers from the Cape, with exactly the same habit and constitution as Ixias, and require the very same kind of treatment. The genus is in dispute, no two agreeing as to what it is, or should be. The Botanical Magazine calls flexuosa a Moraea. It is a little bright yellow flower; the other is a slender plant, with a purplish bloom, and was also called a Moraea by Jacquin, who first discovered it. Sweet and Don, however, place them both as Homerias; I believe on account of their monadelphous stamens.

NERINE.

This is a small group of true African bulbs, with the same habit and constitution as the Belladonas, or true Amaryllis. All those who have studied African bulbs believe Nerine to be only a well-defined section of the Amaryllis, and many attempts have been made to get crosses between the two, but, hitherto, with no success, although they readily crossed one with the other, and produced some fine, flowers. Like the Watsonias, there is a great family likeness between the species: the flowers of some of them are wavy, stamens and all, but growing upwards; and about half of the species, in addition to this wavyness in the sepals, roll back like a reflexed Fuchsia, or Tiger Lily. The Guernsey Lily, Nerine sarniensis, is one of these reflexed ones; they all flower in the autumn, after a rest of four months, chiefly before the leaf; but some of them show the leaves and flowers simultaneously. Marginata is of this habit, and is the one with a red margin to the leaf that we want so much, from the west coast of the Cape colony, as it is all but certain to be the one that will cross with Amaryllis, and so join the two sections. They grow from September to May, require abundance of air all the winter, and when once the leaves are full grown, by the end of February, they require to be well pushed on for the rest of the spring, with additional warmth; but they are not so thirsty, as Amaryllis, nor do they like such strong loam, but in peat some of them spawn so much with offset bulbs, that they will not flower at all; a soft, yellow loam, well-reduced with white sand, is best for them in pots; if they are planted out in a frame, or turf-pit, along with Brunsvigias, which is the best mode of growing them, the soil is not so particular, so that it is not too strong to set hard about them. In Australia, the Nerines are as hardy as Crocuses, and there they multiply by seeds and offsets prodigiously, as Bailie Nicol Jarvie would say.

NERINE CORUSCA.—A beautiful, shining, deep pink flower, the segments not much waved, but reflexed. This, and undulata, ought to have their offsets taken off every year, as they produce them so numerously as to hinder the old bulb from flowering.

NERINE CURVIFOLIA.—A most beautiful thing, amid the best in the genus, If people would but grow it, instead of the Guernsey Lily, they would have something worth looking at; dark crimson flowers of great substance, shining like glass; the segments roll back, but do not wave much; this is the best to cross from; flowers very freely, and the leaf comes with the flower.

NERINE FLEXUOSA.—A very pale pink flower, much distorted, waved, and curved upwards, with six or seven flowers in the umbel. As easy to grow as a Crocus but, like undulata and sarniensis, it cannot bear the least confinement.

NER1NE HUMULIS.— This is very near flexuosa in all the parts, and in constitution, but the flowers are of a deeper colour. No plant is more easy to glow.

NERINE LUCIDA.—Although curvifolia has the richest coloured flower, this is by far the finest Nerine ever introduced. Prince Leopold, who was on intimate terms with Dr. Herbert, with whom he corresponded about bulbs, after he was exalted to be King of the Belgians, was the first to flower this beautiful bulb, at Claremont, in 1820. The flowers are bright pink and white, waving upwards, 12 to 15 of them forming a large spreading umbel; laticoma, as some have called it, was a well-conceived name for such a fine furnished head of flowers; but lucida, by Burchell, had the priority. Dr. Burchell found this plant near the snow mountains in South Africa, between Gattikamma and Akaap, in latitude 28° 50' 60" south, and 24° 3' east, 22 miles from Kloarwater, so that it can easily be traced; for I believe it is lost long since, through the foolish habit of subjecting such bulbs to artificial heat. This bulb is certainly all but hardy, and the leaves are often killed down by frost, in Africa.

NERINE PULCHELLA.—This is a slender, well-defined species, with pale pink, waved flowers, which are striped with red veins, and six or seven of them in each umbel or head; the leaves are a little glaucous, and the bulb is easily known, in a dry state, from its being tinged with purple and green.

NERINE ROSEA.—This also is a well-marked species, or rather a variety of venusta, very nearly related to the Guernsey Lily, but the flowers are larger, and of a more brilliant rosy-colour. It is the only one of the genus that has the leaves flat on the ground.

NERINE SARNIENSIS (The Guernsey Lily).—It is strange that this, the least showy of the genus, except unduluta, should obtain such notoriety in cultivation, while the others are hardly ever sought alter. There is not the slightest doubt but that both in Holland and Guernsey the whole family might be raised to the same dignity and importance as the Hyacinth, and by crossing them they would run into improved varieties, just as much as the Hyacinths do. The Guernsey Lily has baffled us, more than the Hyacinth, to flower it yearly in succession—the reason seems to be, that we force it into premature leaf by close confinement while in flower—a practice which all the Amaryllises never fail to resent; what they all want is a very slow movement at first; a sparing of water, till the leaf is nearly full grown, and then an increase of warmth and water, and a constant current of fresh air.

NERINE UNDULATA.—This bulb is a drug in the Cape market. I never knew a collection come home without it, and one can always make it out, on opening the box, without looking at the name, from the clusters of white, soft-skinned offsets which crowd round the old bulbs; in short, it spawns as freely as a Caithness herring, but the worst of it is, that it is not worth growing for its beauty; it has been proved, however, to be the most useful of the family; in the first place, there is no such thing as killing it, and, in the second place, it will cross with the others, and render the offspring all but hardy, without reducing the size of their flowers in the least. A cross between it and curvifolia, called versicolor, or Mitchamiae, after Mitcham, in Surrey, has sixteen flowers in the umbel; rosy-purple, with the midribs of the segments red. A beautiful thing, which, if crossed again with lucida, would give us one of the most beautiful flowers.

NERINE VENUSTA.—This is the type of the section of the Guernsey Lily, and is longer and deeper-coloured than it. and is a much better plant, and more desirable, from the leaves coming at the same time as the flowers, of which there are five or six in the umbel. There is a beautiful miniature one called minor, that has never been figured or described, making the fourth variety, rosea and sarniensis being the other two; but let lucida, curvifolia, and venusta be brought, together and crossed, and let the despised undulata add hardness and numerical strength to the offspring, providing lucida is not quite so hardy as undulata, and then let the disposition to an earlier leaf be encouraged among the seedlings whenever it is noticed, until the most delicate tints, from crimson to French-white, are blended on umbels of from twelve to twenty flowers in each, having, at the same time, deep green foliage at least half as high as the scape when the flowers are in full beauty, and nothing finer can be expected from bulbs until they find out how to breed the Hippeasters with Habranthus.

 

Beaton Bibliography