Thursday, 22 January 2009



To contemplate the past history of British gardening, the rapid strides it has made of late years, and the great number of new and beautiful plants introduced, together with the perfect state of cultivation attained, must be a subject of the highest gratification to all lovers of horticulture. It is also pleasing to find so many of our countrymen, when travelling abroad either upon business or pleasure, instinctively turning their attention to the collection of seeds or plants, feeling desirous to add something to the botany of their native lands ; and some of these amateur collectors have been fortunate in sending home plants of the highest importance, and all have given a proof of their love of flowers.

But while we have been collecting and improving the class of plants that produce fine flowers, we have to a great extent neglected those that produce fine foliage. Now, if we take into consideration the transitory nature of the flowers and the permanent character of the foliage, we cannot but regret that the latter class is not more extensively cultivated.

In this particular branch of gardening we are far behind our continental neighbours. They appear to consider foliage of the first importance, and many fine plants imported by nurserymen to this country have met with so little favour that the importers have been obliged either to send them to the continent to find a market, or sell them to foreigners for the same destination. But let us hope that this state of things is nearly at an end, and that foliage will soon carry with it as much influence as flowers.

Persons who have seen the magnificent Palm stoves at Chatsworth and Kew would be better able to estimate the real value of beautiful foliaged plants. The noble and varied leaves of the Palms, Cycads, Musas, Agaves, tree and other Ferns, &c., presenting as a whole the most enchanting aspect, and giving us, as the late Dr. Wallich enthusiastically observed, " a perfect miniature of a tropical forest."

The first large house of this kind in England was undoubtedly built by the late Messrs. Loddiges, of Hackney, who attained a world-wide celebrity for their unrivalled collection of these interesting plants, although that collection is now no longer for sale. We are happy to find the nucleus to another has been rapidly formed, and will, we doubt not, if encouragement be given, be as rapidly increased by Mr. Veitch, . of the Exotic Nursery, Chelsea, where may be seen some excellent specimens of this class of plants.

We are quite aware that large plant houses, such as those referred to, will never become universal, and that large specimens of Palms, &c., cannot become generally cultivated ; still there are many fine foliaged plants which may be introduced into our ordinary stoves and greenhouses, and with the best possible effect; such, for instance, as Browneas, Rhopalas, Ficus, Dracaenas, Cycads, tree and other Ferns, &c., for the stove, and Agnostus sinuatus, Stadmannia australis, Dicksonia antarctica, Berberis nepalensis, and others; Dacrydiums, Araucarias, and many other kinds for the greenhouse. Horticultural societies appear to have been fully impressed with the importance of these plants, and are offering liberal prizes for them at the forthcoming exhibitions. Let us hope that it may be the means of bringing them into more general cultivation.

The Florist, Fruitist, and Garden Miscellany p. 169

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