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WITH AN ENGRAVING OF FOUR SEEDLING VARIETIES.
Who that has ever enjoyed the romantic pleasure of a stroll amid the ruins of some old monastic edifice, or strayed over the grass-grown ramparts, or climbed the almost inaccessible keep of a decayed baronial residence — once the castle of some "Lawless Lord," now, like its owner, crumbling to dust — but has beheld, with mingled feelings of serious sadness and delight, the curious appearance of these plants intermixed with wall-flowers and stone-crop, jutting out from among the joints of the stoutest masonry — heightening the evidence of the instability of human efforts, by the striking contrast presented in the freshness of nature flourishing on the decay of art? Seen thus among the imposing relics of past grandeur, in a state of native wildness, the mind, for relief, is led to compare them with their own progeny when taken into the care of the culturist, and the difference visible in the two stations is most flattering to the assiduous, patient, and persevering endeavours that distinguish the latter: a brilliancy and variety of colouring, together with an increase of size and vigour both in the flowers and the plant itself, is perceptible enough to render it a matter somewhat difficult of conception to the common observer that flowers like those portrayed should spring from so diminutive a stock: yet such is their origin!
It has beyond question taken a number of years to obtain what florists term a "strain" of flowers likely to lead to great results; and in all probability A. majus, the largest of the indigenous species, has been the original parent of many present varieties. These, by judicious crossing and much care, have again produced other and better varieties, until now we may select a very considerable number of distinct and beautiful kinds. The value of such plants, in a gardening view, is easily conceived and generally acknowledged: they are ornaments suitable for almost every situation out of doors; the beds of the flower-garden, the borders of the shrubbery, vases, rock-work, ruins, or even old walls, may alike be made verdant at all times, and truly beautiful through the autumnal months: nor are they more particular in the choice of soil than of situation, only requiring that it be not excessively wet, and their management may be entrusted to the merest tyro with a certainty of success. There are a few of the choicer sorts that from very high breeding have engendered a somewhat delicate constitution; these require to be planted on drier soil, or to be protected from excessive cold and moisture through the winter, otherwise the majority are sufficiently robust to withstand uninjured the severest weather. They may be multiplied indefinitely by cuttings, taken from the parent plant in the beginning of autumn, choosing for the purpose shoots of a medium size; these, after trimming in the usual manner, should be planted under a hand-glass, and in three weeks they will have rooted sufficiently strong to be potted; for the first winter it will be well to preserve them in a common frame, or some may possibly be injured by frost so as to spoil their blooming, and then in spring, about the middle of March, they should be planted into the places they are intended to occupy when flowering: here they soon attain strength, and in August, September, and October, will make a display amply rewarding the little trouble occasioned. Established plants may remain three or four consecutive years in the same situations, or indeed until they become too large, with no further care, than cutting off the old flower-stems, and spreading a little mulch about their roots when the borders are dug.
Seed offers another easy mode of increasing their numbers; and when pains are taken to intermingle the pollen of various sorts, is highly interesting, from the production of new varieties: