The Cottage Gardener 2: 242 (Aug. 1849)


Donald Beaton

The cold and wet weather at the end of last spring has prolonged the growth of the Belladonnas, Brunsvigias, &c., in the open borders full a month beyond their usual time of going to rest, and I fear this will prevent them from throwing up their flowering scapes next September time enough to be of much interest this season. If so, we shall have them rising next spring as mere abortions, but all that can now be done to assist them is to keep the bulbs as dry and hot as possible for the next month or five weeks, and this is not very easily done when. they are in borders where summer plants are growing, as is often the case. Those under my care are in such a border, and as soon as the rain came on after St. Swithin's day I loosened the surface soil away from the tops of Josephinae, and placed small glasses over them: this wards off the rain, and the heat of the sun accumulates under the glass, so that a little extra heat is afforded them. Their roots being in moist earth is rather favourable to them than otherwise. Where they are grown in frames by themselves, with no other plants to interfere with their proper culture, no doubt they have gone to rest at the usual time, early in June; or, if they have not, it would stimulate them now to have the soil drawn aside to expose the surface of the bulbs to the sun, and by having the glass kept on constantly. They cannot be too hot and dry on the surface with only the assistance of a glass covering.

I am anxious to try a cross this autumn between the Belladonna and Brunsvigia Josphinae; and in case my own bulbs of the latter, under the above disadvantages, should not flower, I should feel very much obliged to any kind reader, who may be more fortunate, if he would send me some pollen of Josephinae. The way to do this is to cut off some of the anthers with short pieces of the stamens attached, as soon as the flowers open. It is not necessary that the anthers should be open, or, in other words, that the pollen should be ripe, because it will ripen after the anthers are cut off, and I forget how soon the anthers of the Josephinae open after the expansion of the flower. The anthers, if folded in tissue or other soft paper, will travel by post safe enough.

I advise all who possess these beautiful bulbs to try and cross them both ways this autumn. They are very easily crossed. The stamens are long, and may be taken one after another, and by them draw the opened   anther across the lobes of the stigma. Three lobes curve backwards, and then is the time to three to apply the pollen. When the flower begins to fade, see that it does not injure the style by collapsing round it, as it is sure to do if the decaying flower is not cut off in time. Until very recently writers used to recommend a camel-hair brush to dust the pollen on flowers, or rather on their stigmas. For setting grapes, pears, or, indeed, any fruit, the operation being only intended to encourage the fruit to swell properly, a brush is as convenient as any thing else; but, when we want to obtain a cross between two plants, this camel-hair brush is a treacherous instrument, because, after one kind of pollen is used by it, how are you to proceed with the next flower if it happens to belong to the same family as the first? It is perfectly impossible to divest it of all the former pollen without steeping it in boiling water. In short, we may as well dust a dress-coat with a powdered wig as think to effect pure crosses by means of a camel-hair or any other brush whatever.

Beaton Bibliography