Jour Hort and Pract Gard 2: 195-196 (Dec 3, 1861)


William Smith, Gardener, York

Thanks to Mr. Anderson for the remarks on the peculiar state of the atmosphere. Such was the actual state of it when I succeeded in fertilising two flowers, one each on two distinct plants of the above; and although I tried many at the same time, only two were effectual, and those two, thanks to Mr. Beaton for the knowledge of the effects of the short stamens, were fertilised purposely with the two short stamens of a Golden Chain Geranium, and they perfected four seed-vessels each.

I sowed one lot, and they vegetated; but though they developed the seed-leaves, they could go no further. They were pure white and yellow without a particle of green. They stood from ten to fourteen days, and then one after another bowed their heads, and in a few hours became decayed vegetable matter, verifying Mr. Beaton's experience.

I undertook the experiment because it was stated in THE JOURNAL OF HORTICULTURE, in notices to correspondents, that it would not cross with any Geranium in cultivation. I tried many times after up to the end of the season, but without success: therefore I fully endorse Mr. Anderson's views, that cross-breeding is an open field, and it is very difficult to define where we may or may not go.

I shall not contend with "NICKERBOR," or any one else, whether variegation be disease or not; my own experience would give the vote to Mr. Beaton's theory that it is all in the pollen. In fact, I feel almost justified in saying I could reduce it to a positive law, but it would require experience under different conditions of soil and circumstances to fully bear me out.

I can beget variegation at will, either white or yellow, under my present circumstances, to an indefinite extent. The grand point is not to overdo it, or no man on earth can grow them.

While I am upon the subject, I may observe that Mr. Beaton asked the question, a few weeks back, whether variegation increased in intensity in proportion to the time it lay dormant, when the proper conditions for its development brought it forth. Now, as he was the raiser of Hendersoni, can he say whether it showed any signs to variegate in the seed-leaf? If so, he has the opportunity to establish his doctrine, for it has variegated with me, and is one of the purest of the white ones, and I believe, with its white leaves and white flowers, will be a very desirable edging plant, as its rampant growth is very much curtailed.

Query. Who dare attempt to say how many times it had been repropagated before it showed the variegation?

I have also Muscar Martin variegated. Who is his progenitor? I have also a Bramble beautifully variegated, produced exactly as Mr. Beaton described it might be. It was not done intentionally, but it came up where it was not wanted, so its head was pulled off. It came again and was beheaded again, and this was repeated several times. At last the variegated one came, and so it had permission to live. This was done before Mr. Beaton wrote about it, but I thought it worth a passing notice.

Surprise was also expressed in THE JOURNAL OF HORTICULTURE, a time back, at a Carnation two years old and 3 inches high, but I have one two years old, perfectly healthy and branching, only 1 inch high.

I also produced a cross between the Alpine and the British Queen Strawberries. It never attained above 4 inches high, flowering most profusely, but was perfectly barren, and after growing it in various ways three seasons, I kicked it out. May there not be something analogous in these two cases to the short stamens of the Geraniums?

I have a plant of Pteris edulis that threw up one frond variegated, but it was barren. I have also a seedling plant of the common Bracken (Pteris aquilina) that grows pure white fronds, the quintessence of loveliness, but they are very fragile in the sun. I have no shade to try it in. I thought if it produced spores next year, perhaps some of the seedlings might come the ordinary variegation.

I find it bad practice to sow any choice crossed seed in the autumn. I had from two to three score of very singularly marked Geraniums, many of them tricoloured, yellow, green, and red, in which the green formed so small a part, that after they had made six, seven, and eight leaves in the warm weather they have not been able to hold up against the dark clays of November.

I have not convenience to carry out experiments as I should like, yet I do not despair of being able, to produce for the gratification of Mr. Robson, some day, Mr. Mangles in a gold-laced coat.

I fancy I have a case of superfoetation. Perhaps Mr. Beaton would think otherwise, but it was as follows. I had a nicely marked Geranium seedling with good flower and truss, but rampant in habit. I grew it in the conservatory last year, and I fertilised one flower with the pollen of British Flag and Punch, just for experiment. It ripened four seed-vessels—one missing, notwithstanding the abundance of pollen. I sowed each seed-vessel without dividing it. The seedlings came up, and in due time I divided them round a six-inch pot to winter; in the spring they were divided, and planted in the shrubbery with a particular mark. No two of them were alike either in flowers or leaves. One was a model of Punch, another was a model of British Flag, but with larger flowers. I marked it Grandiflora. Two were a mixed muddle betwixt the three, and the fourth having broken a most beautiful golden variegated shoot with a shade more of the Buttercup in it than Golden Chain, his head was immediately cut off before he opened a flower. This appears to my mind an evidence that superfoetation is quite possible.

I have a very nice seedling, very dwarf, and very free flowering, having plain foliage, with a shade more crimson in it than Christine, and in size smaller in the flower, and a third smaller in its growth.—WM. SMITH, Gardener, York.