Part 5 out of 7
Here is an attempt at a description in verse of some of the most common
TREES AND FLOWERS OF BENGAL
This land is not my father land,
And yet I love it--for the hand
Of God hath left its mark sublime
On nature's face in every clime--
Though from home and friends we part,
Nature and the human heart
Still may soothe the wanderer's care--
And his God is every where
Beneath BENGALA'S azure skies,
No vallies sink, no green hills rise,
Like those the vast sea billows make--
The land is level as a lake
But, oh, what giants of the wood
Wave their wide arms, or calmly brood
Each o'er his own deep rounded shade
When noon's fierce sun the breeze hath laid,
And all is still. On every plain
How green the sward, or rich the grain!
In jungle wild and garden trim,
And open lawn and covert dim,
What glorious shrubs and flowerets gay,
Bright buds, and lordly beasts of prey!
How prodigally Gunga pours
Her wealth of waves through verdant shores
O'er which the sacred peepul bends,
And oft its skeleton lines extends
Of twisted root, well laved and bare,
Half in water, half in air!
Fair scenes! where breeze and sun diffuse
The sweetest odours, fairest hues--
Where brightest the bright day god shows,
And where his gentle sister throws
Her softest spell on silent plain,
And stirless wood, and slumbering main--
Where the lucid starry sky
Opens most to mortal eye
The wide and mystic dome serene
Meant for visitants unseen,
A dream like temple, air built hall,
Where spirits pure hold festival!
Fair scenes! whence envious Art might steal
More charms than fancy's realms reveal--
Where the tall palm to the sky
Lifts its wreath triumphantly--
And the bambu's tapering bough
Loves its flexile arch to throw--
Where sleeps the favored lotus white,
On the still lake's bosom bright--
Where the champac's blossoms shine,
Offerings meet for Brahma's shrine,
While the fragrance floateth wide
O'er velvet lawn and glassy tide--
Where the mangoe tope bestows
Night at noon day--cool repose,
Neath burning heavens--a hush profound
Breathing o'er the shaded ground--
Where the medicinal neem,
Of palest foliage, softest gleam,
And the small leafed tamarind
Tremble at each whispering wind--
And the long plumed cocoas stand
Like the princes of the land,
Near the betel's pillar slim,
With capital richly wrought and trim--
And the neglected wild sonail
Drops her yellow ringlets pale--
And light airs summer odours throw
From the bala's breast of snow--
Where the Briarean banyan shades
The crowded ghat, while Indian maids,
Untouched by noon tide's scorching rays,
Lave the sleek limb, or fill the vase
With liquid life, or on the head
Replace it, and with graceful tread
And form erect, and movement slow,
Back to their simple dwellings go--
[Walls of earth, that stoutly stand,
Neatly smoothed with wetted hand--
Straw roofs, yellow once and gay,
Turned by time and tempest gray--]
Where the merry minahs crowd
Unbrageous haunts, and chirrup loud--
And shrilly talk the parrots green
'Midst the thick leaves dimly seen--
And through the quivering foliage play,
Light as buds, the squirrels gay,
Quickly as the noontide beams
Dance upon the rippled streams--
Where the pariah howls with fear,
If the white man passeth near--
Where the beast that mocks our race
With taper finger, solemn face,
In the cool shade sits at ease
Calm and grave as Socrates--
Where the sluggish buffaloe
Wallows in mud--and huge and slow,
Like massive cloud of sombre van,
Moves the land leviathan--
Where beneath the jungle's screen
Close enwoven, lurks unseen
The couchant tiger--and the snake
His sly and sinuous way doth make
Through the rich mead's grassy net,
Like a miniature rivulet--
Where small white cattle, scattered wide,
Browse, from dawn to even tide--
Where the river watered soil
Scarce demands the ryot's toil--
And the rice field's emerald light
Out vies Italian meadows bright,--
Where leaves of every shape and dye,
And blossoms varied as the sky,
The fancy kindle,--fingers fair
That never closed on aught but air--
Hearts, that never heaved a sigh--
Wings, that never learned to fly--
Cups, that ne'er went table round--
Bells, that never rang with sound--
Golden crowns, of little worth--
Silver stars, that strew the earth--
Filagree fine and curious braid,
Breathed, not labored, grown, not made--
Tresses like the beams of morn
Without a thought of triumph worn--
Tongues that prate not--many an eye
Untaught midst hidden things to pry--
Brazen trumpets, long and bright,
That never summoned to the fight--
Shafts, that never pierced a side--
And plumes that never waved with pride;--
Scarcely Art a shape may know
But Nature here that shape can show.
Through this soft air, o'er this warm sod,
Stern deadly Winter never trod;
The woods their pride for centuries wear,
And not a living branch is bare;
Each field for ever boasts its bowers,
And every season brings its flowers.
We all "uphold Adam's profession": we are all gardeners, either
practically or theoretically. The love of trees and flowers, and shrubs
and the green sward, with a summer sky above them, is an almost
universal sentiment. It may be smothered for a time by some one or other
of the innumerable chances and occupations of busy life; but a painting
in oils by Claude or Gainsborough, or a picture in words by Spenser or
Shakespeare that shall for ever
Live in description and look green in song,
or the sight of a few flowers on a window-sill in the city, can fill the
eye with tears of tenderness, or make the secret passion for nature
burst out again in sudden gusts of tumultuous pleasure and lighten up
the soul with images of rural beauty. There are few, indeed, who, when
they have the good fortune to escape on a summer holiday from the
crowded and smoky city and find themselves in the heart of a delicious
garden, have not a secret consciousness within them that the scene
affords them a glimpse of a true paradise below. Rich foliage and gay
flowers and rural quiet and seclusion and a smiling sun are ever
associated with ideas of earthly felicity.
And oh, if there be an Elysium on earth,
It is this, it is this!
The princely merchant and the petty trader, the soldier and the sailor,
the politician and the lawyer, the artist and the artisan, when they
pause for a moment in the midst of their career, and dream of the
happiness of some future day, almost invariably fix their imaginary
palace or cottage of delight in a garden, amidst embowering trees and
fragrant flowers. This disposition, even in the busiest men, to indulge
occasionally in fond anticipations of rural bliss--
In visions so profuse of pleasantness--
shows that God meant us to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of his works.
The taste for a garden is the one common feeling that unites us all.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
There is this much of poetical sensibility--of a sense of natural
beauty--at the core of almost every human heart. The monarch shares it
with the peasant, and Nature takes care that as the thirst for her
society is the universal passion, the power of gratifying it shall be
more or less within the reach of all.
Our present Chief Justice, Sir Lawrence Peel, who has set so excellent
an example to his countrymen here in respect to Horticultural pursuits
and the tasteful embellishment of what we call our "_compounds_" and
who, like Sir William Jones and Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd, sees no reason
why Themis should be hostile to the Muses, has obliged me with the
following stanzas on the moral or rather religious influence of a
garden. They form a highly appropriate and acceptable contribution to
I HEARD THY VOICE IN THE GARDEN.
That voice yet speaketh, heed it well--
But not in tones of wrath it chideth,
The moss rose, and the lily smell
Of God--in them his voice abideth.
There is a blessing on the spot
The poor man decks--the sun delighteth
To smile upon each homely plot,
And why? The voice of God inviteth.
God knows that he is worshipped there,
The chaliced cowslip's graceful bending
Is mute devotion, and the air
Is sweet with incense of her lending.
The primrose, aye the children's pet,
Pale bride, yet proud of its uprooting,
The crocus, snowdrop, violet
And sweet-briar with its soft leaves shooting.
There nestles each--a Preacher each--
(Oh heart of man! be slow to harden)
Each cottage flower in sooth doth teach
God walketh with us in the garden.
I am surprized that in this city (of Calcutta) where so many kinds of
experiments in education have been proposed, the directors of public
instruction have never thought of attaching tasteful Gardens to the
Government Colleges--especially where Botany is in the regular course of
Collegiate studies. The Company's Botanic Garden being on the other side
of the river and at an inconvenient distance from the city cannot be
much resorted to by any one whose time is precious. An attempt was made
not long ago to have the Garden of the Horticultural Society (now
forming part of the Company's Botanic Garden) on this side of the river,
but the public subscriptions that were called for to meet the necessary
expenses were so inadequate to the purpose that the money realized was
returned to the subscribers, and the idea relinquished, to the great
regret of many of the inhabitants of Calcutta who would have been
delighted to possess such a place of recreation and instruction within a
few minutes' drive.
Hindu students, unlike English boys in general, remind us of Beattie's
The exploit of strength, dexterity and speed
To him nor vanity, nor joy could bring.
A sort of Garden Academy, therefore, full of pleasant shades, would be
peculiarly suited to the tastes and habits of our Indian Collegians.
They are not fond of cricket or leap-frog. They would rejoice to devote
a leisure hour to pensive letterings in a pleasure-garden, and on an
occasional holiday would gladly pursue even their severest studies, book
in hand, amidst verdant bowers. A stranger from Europe beholding them,
in their half-Grecian garments, thus wandering amidst the trees, would
be reminded of the disciples of Plato.
"It is not easy," observes Lord Kames, "to suppress a degree of
enthusiasm, when we reflect on the advantages of gardening with respect
to virtuous education. In the beginning of life the deepest impressions
are made; and it is a sad truth, that the young student, familiarized to
the dirtiness and disorder of many colleges pent within narrow bounds in
populous cities, is rendered in a measure insensible to the elegant
beauties of art and nature. It seems to me far from an exaggeration,
that good professors are not more essential to a college, than a
spacious garden, sweetly ornamented, but without any thing glaring or
fantastic, is upon the whole to inspire our youth with a taste no less
for simplicity than for elegance. In this respect the University of
Oxford may justly be deemed a model."
It may be expected that I should offer a few hints on the laying out of
gardens. Much has been said (by writers on ornamental and landscape
gardening) on _art_ and _nature_, and almost always has it been implied
that these must necessarily be in direct opposition. I am far from being
of this opinion. If art and nature be not in some points of view almost
identical, they are at least very good friends, or may easily be made
so. They are not necessarily hostile. They admit of the most harmonious
combinations. In no place are such combinations more easy or more proper
than in a garden. Walter Scott very truly calls a garden the child of
Art. But is it not also the child of Nature?--of Nature and Art
together? To attempt to exclude art--or even, the appearance of
art--from a small garden enclosure, is idle and absurd. He who objects to
all art in the arrangement of a flower-bed, ought, if consistent with
himself, to turn away with an expression of disgust from a well arranged
nosegay in a rich porcelain vase. But who would not loathe or laugh at
such manifest affectation or such thoroughly bad taste? As there is a
time for every thing, so also is there a place for every thing. No man
of true judgment would desire to trace the hand of human art on the form
of nature in remote and gigantic forests, and amidst vast mountains, as
irregular as the billows of a troubled sea. In such scenery there is a
sublime grace in wildness,--_there_ "the very weeds are beautiful." But
what true judgment would be enchanted with weeds and wildness in the
small parterre. As Pope rightly says, we must
Consult the genius of the place in all.
It is pleasant to enter a rural lane overgrown with field-flowers, or to
behold an extensive common irregularly decorated with prickly gorse or
fern and thistle, but surely no man of taste would admire nature in this
wild and dishevelled state in a little suburban garden. Symmetry,
elegance and beauty, (--no _sublimity_ or _grandeur_--) trimness,
snugness, privacy, cleanliness, comfort, and convenience--the results of
a happy conjunction of art and nature--are all that we can aim at within
a limited extent of ground. In a small parterre we either trace with
pleasure the marks of the gardener's attention or are disgusted with his
negligence. In a mere patch of earth around a domestic dwelling nature
ought not to be left entirely to herself.
What is agreeable in one sphere of life is offensive in another. A dirty
smock frock and a soiled face in a ploughman's child who has been
swinging on rustic gates a long summer morning or rolling down the
slopes of hills, or grubbing in the soil of his small garden, may remind
us, not unpleasantly, of one of Gainsborough's pictures; but we look for
a different sort of nature on the canvas of Sir Joshua Reynolds or Sir
Thomas Lawrence, or in the brilliant drawing-rooms of the nobility; and
yet an Earl's child looks and moves at least as _naturally_ as a
There is nature every where--in the palace as well as in the hut, in the
cultivated garden as well as in the wild wood. Civilized life is, after
all, as natural as savage life. All our faculties are natural, and
civilized man cultivates his mental powers and studies the arts of life
by as true an instinct as that which leads the savage to make the most
of his mud hut, and to improve himself or his child as a hunter, a
fisherman, or a warrior. The mind of man is the noblest work of its
Maker (--in this world--) and the movements of man's mind may be quite
as natural, and quite as poetical too, as the life that rises from the
ground. It is as natural for the mind, as it is for a tree or flower to
advance towards perfection. Nature suggests art, and art again imitates
and approximates to nature, and this principle of action and reaction
brings man by degrees towards that point of comparative excellence for
which God seems to have intended him. The mind of a Milton or a
Shakespeare is surely not in a more unnatural condition than that of an
ignorant rustic. We ought not then to decry refinement nor deem all
connection of art with nature an offensive incongruity. A noble mansion
in a spacious and well kept park is an object which even an observer who
has no share himself in the property may look upon with pleasure. It
makes him proud of his race. We cannot witness so harmonious a
conjunction of art and nature without feeling that man is something
better than a mere beast of the field or forest. We see him turn both
art and nature to his service, and we cannot contemplate the lordly
dwelling and the richly decorated land around it--and the neatness and
security and order of the whole scene--without associating them with the
high accomplishments and refined tastes that in all probability
distinguish the proprietor and his family. It is a strange mistake to
suppose that nothing is natural beyond savage ignorance--that all
refinement is unnatural--that there is only one sort of simplicity. For
the mind elevated by civilization is in a more natural state than a mind
that has scarcely passed the boundary of brutal instinct, and the
simplicity of a savage's hut, does not prevent there being a nobler
simplicity in a Grecian temple.
Kent the famous landscape gardener, tells us that _nature_ _abhors
a straight line_. And so she does--in some cases--but not in all. A ray
of light is a straight line, and so also is a Grecian nose, and so also
is the stem of the betel-nut tree. It must, indeed, be admitted that he
who should now lay out a large park or pleasure-ground on strictly
geometrical principles or in the old topiary style would exhibit a
deplorable want of taste and judgment. But the provinces of the
landscape gardener and the parterre gardener are perfectly distinct. The
landscape gardener demands a wide canvas. All his operations are on a
large scale. In a small garden we have chiefly to aim at the
_gardenesque_ and in an extensive park at the _picturesque_. Even in the
latter case, however, though
'Tis Nature still, 'tis nature methodized:
Or in other words:
Nature to advantage dressed.
for even in the largest parks or pleasure-grounds, an observer of true
taste is offended by an air of negligence or the absence of all traces
of human art or care. Such places ought to indicate the presence of
civilized life and security and order. We are not pleased to see weeds
and jungle--or litter of any sort--even dry leaves--upon the princely
domain, which should look like a portion of nature set apart or devoted
to the especial care and enjoyment of the owner and his friends:--a
strictly private property. The grass carpet should be trimly shorn and
well swept. The trees should be tastefully separated from each other at
irregular but judicious distances. They should have fine round heads of
foliage, clean stems, and no weeds or underwood below, nor a single dead
branch above. When we visit the finest estates of the nobility and
gentry in England it is impossible not to perceive in every case a
marked distinction between the wild nature of a wood and the civilized
nature of a park. In the latter you cannot overlook the fact that every
thing injurious to the health and growth and beauty of each individual
tree has been studiously removed, while on the other hand, light, air,
space, all things in fact that, if sentient, the tree could itself be
supposed to desire, are most liberally supplied. There is as great a
difference between the general aspect of the trees in a nobleman's
pleasure ground and those in a jungle, as between the rustics of a
village and the well bred gentry of a great city. Park trees have
generally a fine air of aristocracy about them.
A Gainsborough or a Morland would seek his subjects in remote villages
and a Watteau or a Stothard in the well kept pleasure ground. The ruder
nature of woods and villages, of sturdy ploughmen and the healthy though
soiled and ragged children in rural neighbourhoods, affords a by no
means unpleasing contrast and introduction to the trim trees and
smoothly undulating lawns, and curved walks, and gay parterres, and fine
ladies and well dressed and graceful children on some old ancestral
estate. We look for rusticity in the village, and for elegance in the
park. The sleek and noble air of patrician trees, standing proudly on
the rich velvet sward, the order and grace and beauty of all that meets
the eye, lead us, as I have said already, to form a high opinion of the
owner. In this we may of course be sometimes disappointed; but a man's
character is generally to be traced in almost every object around him
over which he has the power of a proprietor, and in few things are a
man's taste and habits more distinctly marked than in his park and
garden. If we find the owner of a neatly kept garden and an elegant
mansion slovenly, rude and vulgar in appearance and manners, we
inevitably experience that shock of surprize which is excited by every
thing that is incongruous or out of keeping. On the other hand if the
garden be neglected and overgrown with weeds, or if every thing in its
arrangement indicate a want of taste, and a disregard of neatness and
order, we feel no astonishment whatever in discovering that the
proprietor is as negligent of his mind and person as of his shrubberies
and his lawns.
A civilized country ought not to look like a savage one. We need not
have wild nature in front of our neatly finished porticos. Nothing can
be more strictly artificial than all architecture. It would be absurd to
erect an elegantly finished residence in the heart of a jungle. There
should be an harmonious gradation from the house to the grounds, and
true taste ought not to object to terraces of elegant design and
graceful urns and fine statues in the immediate neighbourhood of a noble
Undoubtedly as a general rule, the undulating curve in garden scenery is
preferable to straight lines or abrupt turns or sharp angles, but if
there should happen to be only a few yards between the outer gateway and
the house, could anything be more fantastical or preposterous than an
attempt to give the ground between them a serpentine irregularity? Even
in the most spacious grounds the walks should not seem too studiously
winding, as if the short turns were meant for no other purpose than to
perplex or delay the walker. They should have a natural sweep, and
seem to meander rather in accordance with the nature of the ground and
the points to which they lead than in obedience to some idle sport of
fancy. They should not remind us of Gray's description of the divisions
of an old mansion:
Long passages that lead to nothing.
Foot-paths in small gardens need not be broader than will allow two
persons to walk abreast with ease. A spacious garden may have walks of
greater breadth. A path for one person only is inconvenient and has a
I have made most of the foregoing observations in something of a spirit
of opposition to those Landscape gardeners who I think once carried a
true principle to an absurd excess. I dislike, as much as any one can,
the old topiary style of our remote ancestors, but the talk about free
nature degenerated at last into downright cant, and sheer extravagance;
the reformers were for bringing weeds and jungle right under our parlour
windows, and applied to an acre of ground those rules of Landscape
gardening which required a whole county for their proper
exemplification. It is true that Milton's Paradise had "no nice art" in
it, but then it was not a little suburban pleasure ground but a world.
When Milton alluded to private gardens, he spoke of their trimness.
That in _trim_ gardens takes his pleasure.
The larger an estate the less necessary is it to make it merely neat,
and symmetrical, especially in those parts of the ground that are
distant from the house; but near the architecture some degree of finish
and precision is always necessary, or at least advisable, to prevent the
too sudden contrast between the straight lines and artificial
construction of the dwelling and the flowing curves and wild but
beautiful irregularities of nature unmoulded by art. A garden adjacent
to the house should give the owner a sense of _home_. He should not feel
himself abroad at his own door. If it were only for the sake of variety
there should be some distinction between the private garden and the open
field. If the garden gradually blends itself with a spacious park or
chase, the more the ground recedes from the house the more it may
legitimately assume the aspect of a natural landscape. It will then be
necessary to appeal to the eye of a landscape gardener or a painter or a
poet before the owner, if ignorant of the principles of fine art,
attempt the completion of the general design.
I should like to see my Native friends who have extensive grounds, vary
the shape of their tanks, but if they dislike a more natural form of
water, irregular or winding, and are determined to have them with four
sharp corners, let them at all events avoid the evil of several small
tanks in the same "compound." A large tank is more likely to have good
water and to retain it through the whole summer season than a smaller
one and is more easily kept clean and grassy to the water's edge. I do
not say that it would be proper to have a piece of winding water in a
small compound--that indeed would be impracticable. But even an oval or
round tank would be better than a square one.
If the Native gentry could obtain the aid of tasteful gardeners, I would
recommend that the level land should be varied with an occasional
artificial elevation, nicely sloped or graduated; but Native _malees_
would be sure to aim rather at the production of abrupt round knobs
resembling warts or excrescences than easy and natural undulations of
With respect to lawns, the late Mr. Speede recommended the use of the
_doob_ grass, but it is so extremely difficult to keep it clear of any
intermixture of the _ooloo_ grass, which, when it intrudes upon the
_doob_ gives the lawn a patchwork and shabby look, that it is better to
use the _ooloo_ grass only, for it is far more manageable; and if kept
well rolled and closely shorn it has a very neat, and indeed, beautiful
appearance. The lawns in the compound of the Government House in
Calcutta are formed of _ooloo_ glass only, but as they have been very
carefully attended to they have really a most brilliant and agreeable
aspect. In fact, their beautiful bright green, in the hottest summer,
attracts even the notice and admiration of the stranger fresh from
England. The _ooloo_ grass, however, on close inspection is found to be
extremely coarse, nor has even the finest _doob_ the close texture and
velvet softness of the grass of English lawns.
Flower beds should be well rounded. They should never have long narrow
necks or sharp angles in which no plant can have room to grow freely.
Nor should they be divided into compartments, too minute or numerous,
for so arranged they must always look petty and toy-like. A lawn should
be as open and spacious as the ground will fairly admit without too
greatly limiting the space for flowers. Nor should there be an
unnecessary multiplicity of walks. We should aim at a certain breadth of
style. Flower beds may be here and there distributed over the lawn, but
care should be taken that it be not too much broken up by them. A few
trees may be introduced upon the lawn, but they must not be placed so
close together as to prevent the growth of the grass by obstructing
either light or air. No large trees should be allowed to smother up the
house, particularly on the southern and western sides, for besides
impeding the circulation through the rooms of the most wholesome winds
of this country, they would attract mosquitoes, and give an air of
gloominess to the whole place.
Natives are too fond of over-crowding their gardens with trees and
shrubs and flowers of all sorts, with no regard to individual or general
effects, with no eye to arrangement of size, form or color; and in this
hot and moist climate the consequent exclusion of free air and the
necessary degree of light has a most injurious influence not only upon
the health of the resident but upon vegetation itself. Neither the
finest blossoms nor the finest fruits can be expected from an
overstocked garden. The native malee generally plants his fruit trees so
close together that they impede each other's growth and strength. Every
Englishman when he enters a native's garden feels how much he could
improve its productiveness and beauty by a free use of the hatchet. Too
many trees and too much embellishment of a small garden make it look
still smaller, and even on a large piece of ground they produce confused
and disagreeable effects and indicate an absence of all true judgment.
This practice of over-filling a garden is an instance of bad taste,
analogous to that which is so conspicuously characteristic of our own
countrymen in India with respect to their apartments, which look more
like an upholsterer's show-rooms or splendid ornament-shops than
drawing-rooms or parlours. There is scarcely space enough to turn in
them without fracturing some frail and costly bauble. Where a garden is
over-planted the whole place is darkened, the ground is green and slimy,
the grass thin, sickly and straggling, and the trees and shrubs
deficient in freshness and vigor.
Not only should the native gentry avoid having their flower-borders too
thickly filled,--they should take care also that they are not too broad.
We ought not to be obliged to leave the regular path and go across the
soft earth of the bed to obtain a sight of a particular shrub or flower.
Close and entangled foliage keeps the ground too damp, obstructs
wholesome air, and harbours snakes and a great variety of other noxious
reptiles. Similar objections suggest the propriety of having no shrubs
or flowers or even a grass-plot immediately under the windows and about
the doors of the house. A well exposed gravel or brick walk should be
laid down on all sides of the house, as a necessary safeguard against
both moisture and vermin.
I have spoken already of the unrivalled beauty of English gravel. It
cannot be too much admired. _Kunkur_ looks extremely smart for a
few weeks while it preserves its solidity and freshness, but it is
rapidly ground into powder under carriage wheels or blackened by
occasional rain and the permanent moisture of low grounds when only
partially exposed to the sun and air. Why should not an opulent Rajah or
Nawaub send for a cargo of beautiful red gravel from the gravel pits at
Kensington? Any English House of Agency here would obtain it for him. It
would be cheap in the end, for it lasts at least five times as long as
the kunkur, and if of a proper depth admits of repeated turnings with
the spade, looking on every turn almost as fresh as the day on which it
was first laid down.
Instead of brick-bat edgings, the wealthy Oriental nobleman might trim
all his flower-borders with the green box-plant of England, which would
flourish I suppose in this climate or in any other. Cobbett in his
_English Gardener_ speaks with so much enthusiasm and so much to the
purpose on the subject of box as an edging, that I must here repeat his
eulogium on it.
The box is at once the most efficient of all possible things, and the
prettiest plant that can possibly be conceived; the color of its leaf;
the form of its leaf; its docility as to height, width and shape; the
compactness of its little branches; its great durability as a plant; its
thriving in all sorts of soils and in all sorts of aspects; _its
freshness under the hottest sun_, and its defiance of all shade and
drip: these are the beauties and qualities which, for ages upon ages,
have marked it out as the chosen plant for this very important purpose.
The edging ought to be clipped in the winter or very early in spring on
both sides and at top; a line ought to be used to regulate the movements
of the shears; it ought to be clipped again in the same manner about
midsummer; and if there be _a more neat and beautiful thing than this in
the world, all that I can say is, that I never saw that thing_.
A small green edging for a flower bed can hardly be too _trim_; but
large hedges with tops and sides cut as flat as boards, and trees
fantastically shaped with the shears into an exhibition as full of
incongruities as the wildest dream, have deservedly gone out of fashion
in England. Poets and prose writers have agreed to ridicule all verdant
sculpture on a large scale. Here is a description of the old topiary
These likewise mote be seen on every side
The shapely box, of all its branching pride
Ungently shorn, and, with preposterous skill
To various beasts, and birds of sundry quill
Transformed, and human shapes of monstrous size.
* * * * *
Also other wonders of the sportive shears
Fair Nature misadorning; there were found
Globes, spiral columns, pyramids, and piers
With spouting urns and budding statues crowned;
And horizontal dials on the ground
In living box, by cunning artists traced,
And galleys trim, or on long voyage bound,
But by their roots there ever anchored fast.
The same taste for torturing nature into artificial forms prevailed
amongst the ancients long after architecture and statuary had been
carried to such perfection that the finest British artists of these
times can do nothing but copy and repeat what was accomplished so many
ages ago by the people of another nation. Pliny, in his description of
his Tuscan villa, speaks of some of his trees having been cut into
letters and the forms of animals, and of others placed in such regular
order that they reminded the spectator of files of soldiers. The
Dutch therefore should not bear all the odium of the topiary style of
gardening which they are said to have introduced into England and other
countries of Europe. They were not the first sinners against natural
The Hindus are very fond of formally cut hedges and trimmed trees. All
sorts of verdant hedges are in some degree objectionable in a hot moist
country, rife with deadly vermin. I would recommend ornamental iron
railings or neatly cut and well painted wooden pales, as more airy,
light, and cheerful, and less favorable to snakes and centipedes.
This is the finest country in the world for making gardens speedily. In
the rainy season vegetation springs up at once, as at the stroke of an
Enchanter's wand. The Landscape gardeners in England used to grieve that
they could hardly expect to live long enough to see the effect of their
designs. Such artists would have less reason, to grieve on that account
in this country. Indeed even in England, the source of uneasiness
alluded to, is now removed. "The deliberation with which trees grow,"
wrote Horace Walpole, in a letter to a friend, "is extremely
inconvenient to my natural impatience. I lament living in so barbarous
an age when we are come to so little perfection in gardening. I am
persuaded that 150 years hence it will be as common to remove oaks 150
years old as it now is to plant tulip roots." The writer was not a bad
prophet. He has not yet been dead much more than half a century and his
expectations are already more than half realized. Shakespeare could not
have anticipated this triumph of art when he made Macbeth ask
Who can impress the forest? Bid the tree
Unfix his earth-bound root?
The gardeners have at last discovered that the largest (though not
perhaps the _oldest_) trees can be removed from one place to another
with comparative facility and safety. Sir H. Stewart moved several
hundred lofty trees without the least injury to any of them. And if
broad and lofty trees can be transplanted in England, how much more
easily and securely might such a process be effected in the rainy season
in this country. In half a year a new garden might be made to look like
a garden of half a century. Or an old and ill-arranged plantation might
thus be speedily re-adjusted to the taste of the owner. The main object
is to secure a good ball of earth round the root, and the main
difficulty is to raise the tree and remove it. Many most ingenious
machines for raising a tree from the ground, and trucks for removing it,
have been lately invented by scientific gardeners in England. A
Scotchman, Mr. McGlashen, has been amongst the most successful of late
transplanters. He exhibited one of his machines at Paris to the present
Emperor of the French, and lifted with it a fir tree thirty feet high.
The French ruler lavished the warmest commendations on the ingenious
artist and purchased his apparatus at a large price.
Bengal is enriched with a boundless variety of noble trees admirably
suited to parks and pleasure grounds. These should be scattered about a
spacious compound with a spirited and graceful irregularity, and so
disposed with reference to the dwelling as in some degree to vary the
view of it, and occasionally to conceal it from the visitor driving up
the winding road from the outer gate to the portico. The trees, I must
repeat, should be so divided as to give them a free growth and admit
sufficient light and air beneath them to allow the grass to flourish.
Grassless ground under park trees has a look of barrenness, discomfort
and neglect, and is out of keeping with the general character of the
The Banyan (_Ficus Indica or Bengaliensis_)--
The Indian tree, whose branches downward bent,
Take root again, a boundless canopy--
and the Peepul or Pippul (_Ficus Religiosa_) are amongst the finest
trees in this country--or perhaps in the world--and on a very spacious
pleasure ground or park they would present truly magnificent aspects.
Colonel Sykes alludes to a Banyan at the village of Nikow in Poonah with
68 stems descending from and supporting the branches. This tree is said
to be capable of affording shelter to 20,000 men. It is a tree of this
sort which Milton so well describes.
The fig tree, not that kind for fruit renowned,
But such as at this day, to Indians known
In Malabar or Deccan, spreads her arms
Branching so broad and long, a pillared shade,
High over arched, and echoing walks between
There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
At loop holes cut through the thickest shade those leaves,
They gathered, broad as Amazonian taige;
And with what skill they had together sewed,
To gird their waste.
Milton is mistaken as to the size of the leaves of this tree, though he
has given its general character with great exactness.
A remarkable banyan or buri tree, near Manjee, twenty miles west of
Patna, is 375 inches in diameter, the circumference of its shadow at
noon measuring 1116 feet. It has sixty stems, or dropped branches that
have taken root. Under this tree once sat a naked fakir who had occupied
that situation for 25 years; but he did not continue there the whole
year, for his vow obliged him to be during the four cold months up to
his neck in the water of the Ganges!
It is said that there is a banyan tree near Gombroon on the Persian
gulf, computed to cover nearly 1,700 yards.
The Banyan tree in the Company's Botanic garden, is a fine tree, but it
is of small dimensions compared with those of the trees just
The cocoanut tree has a characteristically Oriental aspect and a natural
grace, but it is not well suited to the ornamental garden or the
princely villa. It is too suggestive of the rudest village scenery, and
perhaps also of utilitarian ideas of mere profit, as every poor man who
has half a dozen cocoanut trees on his ground disposes of the produce in
I would recommend my native friends to confine their clumps of plaintain
trees to the kitchen garden, for though the leaf of the plaintain is a
proud specimen of oriental foliage when it is first opened out to the
sun, it soon gets torn to shreds by the lightest breeze. The tattered
leaves then dry up and the whole of the tree presents the most beggarly
aspect imaginable. The stem is as ragged and untidy as the leaves.
The kitchen garden and the orchard should be in the rear of the house.
The former should not be too visible from the windows and the latter is
on many accounts better at the extremity of the grounds than close to
the house, as we too often find it. A native of high rank should keep as
much out of sight as possible every thing that would remind a visitor
that any portion of the ground was intended rather for pecuniary profit
than the immediate pleasure of the owner. The people of India do not
seem to be sufficiently aware that any sign of parsimony in the
management of a large park or pleasure ground produces in the mind of
the visitor an unfavorable impression of the character of the owner. I
have seen in Calcutta vast mansions of which every little niche and
corner towards the street was let out to very small traders at a few
annas a month. What would the people of England think of an opulent
English Nobleman who should try to squeeze a few pence from the poor by
dividing the street front of his palace into little pigeon-sheds of
petty shops for the retail of petty wares? Oh! Princes of India "reform
this altogether." This sordid saving, this widely published parsimony,
is not only not princely, it is not only not decorous, it is positively
disgusting to every passer-by who himself possesses any right thought or
The Natives seem every day more and more inclined to imitate European
fashions, and there are few European fashions, which could be borrowed
by the highest or lowest of the people of this country with a more
humanizing and delightful effect than that attention to the exterior
elegance and neatness of the dwelling-house, and that tasteful garniture
of the contiguous ground, which in England is a taste common to the
prince and the peasant, and which has made that noble country so full of
those beautiful homes which surprize and enchant its foreign visitors.
The climate and soil of this country are peculiarly favorable to the
cultivation of trees and shrubs and flowers; and the garden here is at
no season of the year without its ornaments.
The example of the Horticultural Society of India, and the attractions
of the Company's Botanic Garden ought to have created a more general
taste amongst us for the culture of flowers. Bishop Heber tells us that
the Botanic Garden here reminded hint more of Milton's description of
the Garden of Eden than any other public garden, that he had ever
There is a Botanic Garden at Serampore. In 1813 it was in charge of Dr.
Roxburgh. Subsequently came the amiable and able Dr. Wallich; then the
venerable Dr. Carey was for a time the Officiating Superintendent. Dr.
Voigt followed and then one of the greatest of our Anglo-Indian
botanists, Dr. Griffiths. After him came Dr. McLelland, who is at this
present time counting the teak trees in the forests of Pegu. He was
succeeded by Dr. Falconer who left this country but a few months ago.
The garden is now in charge of Dr. Thomson who is said to be an
enthusiast in his profession. He explored the region beyond the snowy
range I think with Captain Cunningham, some years ago. With the
exceptions of Voigt and Carey, all who have had charge of the garden at
Serampore have held at the same time the more important appointment of
Superintendent of the Company's Botanic Garden at Garden Beach.
There is a Botanic Garden at Bhagulpore, which owes its origin to Major
Napleton. I have been unable to obtain any information regarding its
present condition. A good Botanic Garden has been already established in
the Punjab, where there is also an Agricultural and Horticultural
I regret that it should have been deemed necessary to make stupid
pedants of Hindu malees by providing them with a classical nomenclature
for plants. Hindostanee names would have answered the purpose just as
well. The natives make a sad mess of our simplest English names, but
their Greek must be Greek indeed! A _Quarterly Reviewer_ observes that
Miss Mitford has found it difficult to make the maurandias and
alstraemerias and eschxholtzias--the commonest flowers of our modern
garden--look passable even in prose. But what are these, he asks, to the
pollopostemonopetalae and eleutheroromacrostemones of Wachendorf, with
such daily additions as the native name of iztactepotzacuxochitl
icohueyo, or the more classical ponderosity of Erisymum Peroffskyanum.
--like the verbum Graecum
Words that should only be said upon holidays,
When one has nothing else to do.
If these names are unpronounceable even by Europeans, what would the
poor Hindu malee make of them? The pedantry of some of our scientific
Botanists is something marvellous. One would think that a love of
flowers must produce or imply a taste for simplicity and nature in all
As by way of encouragement to the native gardeners--to enable them to
dispose of the floral produce of their gardens at a fair price--the
Horticultural Society has withdrawn from the public the indulgence of
gratuitous supplies of plants, it would be as well if some men of taste
were to instruct these native nursery-men how to lay out their grounds,
(as their fellow-traders do at home,) with some regard to neatness,
cleanliness and order. These flower-merchants, and even the common
_malees_, should also be instructed, I think, how to make up a decent
bouquet, for if it be possible to render the most elegant things in the
creation offensive to the eye of taste, that object is assuredly very
completely effected by these swarthy artists when they arrange, with
such worse than Dutch precision and formality, the ill-selected,
ill-arranged, and tightly bound treasures of the parterre for the
classical vases of their British masters. I am often vexed to observe the
idleness or apathy which suffers such atrocities as these specimens of
Indian taste to disgrace the drawing-rooms of the City of Palaces. This is
quite inexcusable in a family where there are feminine hands for the
truly graceful and congenial task of selecting and arranging the daily
supply of garden decorations. A young lady--"herself a fairer
flower"--is rarely exhibited to a loving eye in a more delightful point of
view than when her delicate and dainty fingers are so employed.
If a lovely woman arranging the nosegays and flower-vases, in her
parlour, is a sweet living picture, a still sweeter sight does she
present to us when she is in the garden itself. Milton thus represents
the fair mother of the fair in the first garden:--
Eve separate he spies.
Veil'd in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,
Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round
About her glow'd, oft stooping to support
Each flower of slender stalk, whose head, though gay,
Carnation, purple, azure, or speck'd with gold,
Hung drooping unsustain'd; them she upstays
Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,
From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.
Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversed
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm;
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,
Among thick woven arborets, and flowers
Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve
_Paradise Lost. Book IX_.
Chaucer (in "The Knight's Tale,") describes Emily in her garden as
fairer to be seen
Than is the lily on his stalkie green;
And Dryden, in his modernized version of the old poet, says,
At every turn she made a little stand,
And thrust among the thorns her lily hand
To draw the rose.
Eve's roses were without thorns--
"And without thorn the rose,"
It is pleasant to see flowers plucked by the fairest fingers for some
elegant or worthy purpose, but it is not pleasant to see them _wasted_.
Some people pluck them wantonly, and then fling them away and litter the
garden walks with them. Some idle coxcombs, vain
Of the nice conduct of a clouded cane,
amuse themselves with switching off their lovely heads. "That's
villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it."
And 'tis my wish, and over was my way,
To let all flowers live freely, and so die.
Here is a poetical petitioner against a needless destruction of the
little tenants of the parterre.
Oh, spare my flower, my gentle flower,
The slender creature of a day,
Let it bloom out its little hour,
And pass away.
So soon its fleeting charms must lie
Decayed, unnoticed and o'erthrown,
Oh, hasten not its destiny,
Too like thine own.
Those who pluck flowers needlessly and thoughtlessly should be told that
other people like to see them flourish, and that it is as well for every
one to bear in mind the beautiful remark of Lord Bacon that "the breath
of flowers is far sweeter in the air than in the hand; for in the air it
comes and goes like the warbling of music."
The British portion of this community allow their exile to be much more
dull and dreary than it need be, by neglecting to cultivate their
gardens, and leaving them entirely to the taste and industry of the
_malee_. I never feel half so much inclined to envy the great men of
this now crowded city the possession of vast but gardenless mansions,
(partly blocked up by those of their neighbours,) as I do to felicitate
the owner of some humbler but more airy and wholesome dwelling in the
suburbs, when the well-sized grounds attached to it have been touched
into beauty by the tasteful hand of a lover of flowers.
But generally speaking my countrymen in most parts of India allow their
grounds to remain in a state which I cannot help characterizing as
disreputable. It is amazing how men or women accustomed to English modes
of life can reconcile themselves to that air of neglect, disorder, and
discomfort which most of their "compounds" here exhibit.
It would afford me peculiar gratification to find this book read with
interest by my Hindu friends, (for whom, chiefly, it has been written,)
and to hear that it has induced some of them to pay more attention to
the ornamental cultivation of their grounds; for it would be difficult
to confer upon them a greater blessing than a taste for the innocent and
elegant pleasures of the FLOWER-GARDEN.
SACRED TREES AND SHRUBS OF THE HINDUS.
The following list of the trees and shrubs held sacred by the Hindus is
from the friend who furnished me with the list of Flowers used in Hindu
ceremonies. It was received too late to enable me to include it in
the body of the volume.
AMALAKI (_Phyllanthus emblica_).--A tree held sacred to Shiva. It has no
flowers, and its leaves are in consequence used in worshipping that
deity as well as Durga, Kali, and others. The natives of Bengal do not
look upon it with any degree of religious veneration, but those of the
Upper Provinces annually worship it on the day of the _Shiva Ratri_,
which generally falls in the latter end of February or the beginning of
March, and on which all the public offices are closed.
ASWATH-THA (_Ficus Religiosa_).--It is commonly called by Europeans the
Peepul tree, by which name, it is known to the natives of the Upper
Provinces. The _Bhagavat Gita_ says that Krishna in giving an account of
his power and glory to Arjuna, before the commencement of the celebrated
battle between the _Kauravas_ and _Pandavas_ at _Kurukshetra_,
identified himself with the _Aswath-tha_ whence the natives consider it
to be a sacred tree.
BILWA OR SREEFUL (_Aegle marmelos_).--It is the common wood-apple tree,
which is held sacred to Shiva, and its leaves are used in worshipping
him as well as Durga, Kali, and others. The _Mahabharat_ says that when
Shiva at the request of Krishna and the Pandavas undertook the
protection of their camp at Kurukshetra on the night of the last day of
the battle, between them and the sons of Dhritarashtra, Aswathama, a
friend and follower of the latter, took up a Bilwa tree by its roots and
threw it upon the god, who considering it in the light of an offering
made to him, was so much pleased with Aswathama that he allowed him to
enter the camp, where he killed the five sons of the Pandavas and the
whole of the remnants of their army. Other similar stories are also told
of the Bilwa tree to prove its sacredness, but the one I have given
above, will be sufficient to shew in what estimation it is held by the
BAT (_Ficus indica_).--Is the Indian Banian tree, supposed to be
immortal and coeval with the gods; whence it is venerated as one of
them. It is also supposed to be a male tree, while the Aswath-tha or
Peepul is looked upon as a female, whence the lower orders of the people
plant them side by side and perform the ceremony of matrimony with a
view to connect them as man and wife.
DURVA' (_Panicum dactylon_).--A grass held to be sacred to Vishnu, who
in his seventh _Avatara_ or incarnation, as Rama, the son of Dasaratha,
king of Oude, assumed the colour of the grass, which is used in all
religious ceremonies of the Hindus. It has medicinal properties.
KA'STA' (_Saccharum spontaneum_).--It is a large species of grass. In
those ceremonies which the Hindus perform after the death of a person,
or with a view to propitiate the Manes of their ancestors this grass is
used whenever the Kusa is not to be had. When it is in flower, the
natives look upon the circumstance as indicative of the close of the
KU'SA (_Poa cynosuroides_).--The grass to which, reference has been made
above. It is used in all ceremonies performed in connection with the
death of a person or having for their object the propitiation of the
Manes of ancestors.
MANSA-SHIJ (_Euphorbia ligularia_).--This plant is supposed by the
natives of Bengal to be sacred to _Mansa_, the goddess of snakes, and is
worshipped by them on certain days of the months of June, July, August,
and September, during which those reptiles lay their eggs and breed
their young. The festival of Arandhana, which is more especially
observed by the lower orders of the people, is in honor of the Goddess
NA'RIKELA (_Coccos nucifera_).--The Cocoanut tree, which is supposed to
possess the attributes of a Brahmin and is therefore held sacred.
NIMBA (_Melia azadirachta_).--A tree from the trunk of which the idol at
Pooree was manufactured, and which is in consequence identified with the
ribs of Vishnu.
TU'LSI (_Ocymum_).--The Indian Basil, of which there are several
species, such as the _Ram Tulsi_ (ocymum gratissimum) the _Babooye
Tulsi_ (ocymum pilosum) the _Krishna Tulsi_ (osymum sanctum) and the
common _Tulsi_ (ocymum villosum) all of which possess medicinal
properties, but the two latter are held to be sacred to Vishnu and used
in his worship. The _Puranas_ say that Krishna assumed the form of
_Saukasura_, and seduced his wife Brinda. When he was discovered he
manifested his extreme regard for her by turning her into the _Tulsi_
and put the leaves upon his head.
* * * * *
THE FLOWER GARDEN IN INDIA.
The following practical directions and useful information respecting the
Indian Flower-Garden, are extracted from the late Mr. Speede's _New
Indian Gardener_, with the kind permission of the publishers, Messrs.
Thacker Spink and Company of Calcutta.
So far as practicable, the soil should be renewed every year, by turning
in vegetable mould, river sand, and well rotted manure to the depth of
about a foot; and every second or third year the perennials should be
taken up, and reduced, when a greater proportion of manure may be added,
or what is yet better, the whole of the old earth removed, and new mould
It used to be supposed that the only time for sowing annuals or other
plants, (in Bengal) is the beginning of the cold weather, but although
this is the case with a great number of this class of plants, it is a
popular error to think it applies to all, since there are many that grow
more luxuriantly if sown at other periods. The Pink, for instance, may
be sown at any time, Sweet William thrives best if sown in March or
April, the variegated and light colored Larkspurs should not be put in
until December, the Dahlia germinates most successfully in the rains,
and the beautiful class of Zinnias are never seen to perfection unless
sown in June.
This is the more deserving of attention, as it holds out the prospect of
maintaining our Indian flower gardens, in life and beauty, throughout
the whole year, instead of during the confined period hitherto
The several classes of flowering plants are divided into PERENNIAL,
BIENNIAL, and ANNUAL.
The HERON'S BILL, Erodium; the STORK'S BILL, Pelargonium; and the
CRANE'S BILL, Geranium; all popularly known under the common designation
of Geranium, which gives name to the family, are well known, and are
favorite plants, of which but few of the numerous varieties are found
in this country.
Of the first of these there are about five and twenty fixed species,
besides a vast number of varieties; of which there are here found only
The _Flesh-colored Heron's bill_, E. incarnatum, is a pretty plant of
about six inches high, flowering in the hot weather, with flesh-colored
blossoms, but apt to become rather straggling.
Of the hundred and ninety species of the second class, independently of
their varieties, there are few indeed that have found their way here,
only thirteen, most of which are but rarely met with.
The _Rose-colored Stork's bill_, P. roseum, is tuberous rooted, and in
April yields pretty pink flowers.
The _Brick-colored Stork's bill_, P. lateritium, affords red flowers in
March and April.
The _Botany Bay Stork's bill_, P. Australe, is rare, but may be made to
give a pretty red flower in March.
The _Common horse-shoe Stork's bill_, P. zonale, is often seen, and
yields its scarlet blossoms freely in April.
The _Scarlet-flowered Stork's bill_, P. inquinans, affords a very fine
flower towards the latter end of the cold weather, and approaching to
the hot; it requires protection from the rains, as it is naturally of a
succulent nature, and will rot at the joints if the roots become at all
sodden: many people lay the pots down on their sides to prevent this,
which is tolerably successful to their preservation.
The _Sweet-Scented Stork's bill_, P. odoratissimum, with pink flowers,
but it does not blossom freely, and the branches are apt to grow long
The _Cut-leaved Stork's bill_, P. incisum, has small flowers, the petals
being long and thin, and the flowers which appear in April are white,
marked with pink.
The _Ivy-leaved Stork's bill_, P. lateripes, has not been known to yield
flowers in this country.
The _Rose-scented Stork's bill_, P. capitatum, the odour of the leaves
is very pleasant, but it is very difficult to force into blossom.
The _Ternate Stork's bill_, P. ternatum, has variegated pink flowers in
The _Oak-leaved Stork's bill_, P. quercifolium, is much esteemed for the
beauty of its leaves, but has not been known to blossom in this climate.
The _Tooth-leaved Stork's bill_, P. denticulatum, is not a free
flowerer, but may with care be made to bloom in April.
The _Lemon, or Citron-scented Stork's bill_, P. gratum, grows freely,
and has a pretty appearance, but does not blossom.
Of the second class of these plants the forty-eight species have only
The _Aconite-leaved Crane's bill_, G. aconiti-folium, is a pretty plant,
but rare, yielding its pale blue flowers with difficulty.
The _Wallich's Crane's bill_ G. Wallichianum, indigenous to Nepal,
having pale pink blossoms and rather pretty foliage, flowering in March
and April; but requiring protection in the succeeding hot weather, and
the beginning of the rains, as it is very susceptible of heat, or excess
_Propagation_--may be effected by seed to multiply, or produce fresh
varieties, but the ordinary mode of increasing the different sorts is by
cuttings, no plant growing more readily by this mode. These should be
taken off at a joint where the wood is ripening, at which point the root
fibres are formed, and put into a pot with a compost of one part garden
mould, one part vegetable mould, and one part sand, and then kept
moderately moist, in the shade, until they have formed strong root
fibres, when they may be planted out. The best method is to plant each
cutting in a separate pot of the smallest size. The germinating of the
seeds will be greatly promoted by sinking the pots three parts of their
depth in a hot bed, keeping them moist and shaded and until they
_Soil, &c._ A rich garden mould, composed of light loam, rather sandy
than otherwise, with very rotten dung, is desirable for this shrub.
_Culture_. Most kinds are rapid and luxurious growers, and it is
necessary to pay them constant attention in pruning or nipping the
extremities of the shoots, or they will soon become ill-formed and
straggling. This is particularly requisite during the rains, when heat
and moisture combine to increase their growth to excess; allowing them
to enjoy the full influence of the sun during the whole of the cold
weather, and part of the hot. At the close of the rains, the plants had
better be put out into the open ground, and closely pruned, the shoots
taken off affording an ample supply of cuttings for multiplying the
plants; this putting out will cause them to throw up strong healthy
shoots and rich blossoms; but as the hot weather approaches, or in the
beginning of March, they must be re-placed in moderate sized pots, with
a compost similar to that required for cuttings and placed in the plant
shed, as before described. The earth in the pots should be covered with
pebbles, or pounded brick of moderate size, which prevents the
accumulation of moss or fungi. Geraniums should at no time be over
watered, and must at all seasons be allowed a free ventilation.
There is no doubt that if visitors from this to the Cape, would pay a
little attention to the subject, the varieties might be greatly
increased, and that without much trouble, as many kinds may be produced
freely by seed, if brought to the country fresh, and sown immediately on
arrival; young plants also in well glazed cases would not take up much
space in some of the large vessels coming from thence.
The ANEMONE has numerous varieties, and is, in England, a very favorite
flower, but although A. cernua is a native of Japan, and many varieties
are indigenous to the Cape, it is very rare here.
The _Double anemone_ is the most prized, but there are several _Single_
and _Half double_ kinds which are very handsome. The stem of a good
anemone should be eight or nine inches in height, with a strong upright
stalk. The flower ought not to be less than seven inches in
circumference, the outer row of petals being well rounded, flat, and
expanding at the base, turning up with a full rounded edge, so as to
form a well shaped cup, within which, in the double kinds, should arise
a large group of long small petals reverted from the centre, and
regularly overlapping each other; the colors clear, each shade being
distinct in such as are variegated.
The _Garden, or Star Wind flower_, A. hortensis, _Boostan afrooz_, is
another variety, found in Persia, and brought thence to Upper India, of
a bright scarlet color; a blue variety has also blossomed in Calcutta,
and was exhibited at the Show of February, 1847, by Mrs. Macleod, to
whom Floriculture is indebted for the introduction of many beautiful
exotics heretofore new to India. But it is to be hoped this handsome
species of flowering plants will soon be more extensively found under
_Propagation_. Seed can hardly be expected to succeed in this country,
as even in Europe it fails of germinating; for if not sown immediately
that it is ripe, the length of journey or voyage would inevitably
destroy its power of producing. Offsets of the tubers therefore are the
only means that are left, and these should not be replanted until they
have been a sufficient time out of the ground, say a month or so, to
become hardened, nor should they be put into the earth until they have
dried, or the whole offset will rot by exposure of the newly fractured
side to the moisture of the earth. The tubers should be selected which
are plump and firm, as well as of moderate size, the larger ones being
generally hollow; these may be obtained in good order from Hobart Town.
_Soil, &c._ A strong rich loamy soil is preferable, having a
considerable portion of well rotted cow-dung, with a little leaf mould,
dug to a depth of two feet, and the beds not raised too high, as it is
desirable to preserve moisture in the subsoil; if in pots, this is
effected by keeping a saucer of water under them continually, the pot
must however be deep, or the fibres will have too much wet; an open airy
situation is desirable.
_Culture_. When the plant appears above ground the earth must be pressed
well down around the root, as the crowns and tubers are injured by
exposure to dry weather, and the plants should be sheltered from the
heat of the sun, but not so as to confine the air; they require the
morning and evening sun to shine on them, particularly the former.
The IRIS is a handsome plant, attractive alike from the variety and the
beauty of its blossoms; some of them are also used medicinally. All
varieties produce abundance of seed, in which form the plant might with
great care be introduced into this country.
The _Florence Iris_, I. florentina, _Ueersa_, is a large variety,
growing some two feet in height, the flower being white, and produced in
the hot weather.
The _Persian Iris_ I. persica, _Hoobur_, is esteemed not only for its
handsome blue and purple flowers, but also for its fragrance, blossoming
in the latter part of the cold weather; one variety has blue and yellow
The _Chinese Iris_, I. chinensis, _Soosun peelgoosh_, in a small sized
variety, but has very pretty blue and purple flowers in the beginning of
the hot weather.
_Propagation_. Besides seed, which should be sown in drills, at the
close of the rains, in a sandy soil, it may be produced by offsets.
_Soil, &c._ Almost any kind of soil suits the Iris, but the best flowers
are obtained from a mixture of sandy loam, with leaf mould, the Persian
kind requiring a larger proportion of sand.
_Culture_. Little after culture is required, except keeping the beds
clear from weeds, and occasionally loosening the earth. But the roots
must be taken, up every two, or at most three years, and replanted,
after having been kept to harden for a month or six weeks; the proper
season for doing this being when the leaves decay after blossoming.
The TUBEROSE, Polianthes, is well deserving of culture, but it is not by
any means a rare plant, and like many indigenous odoriferous flowers,
has rather too strong an odour to be borne near at hand, and it is
considered unwholesome in a room.
The _Common Tuberose_, P. tuberosa, _Chubugulshubboo_, being a native of
India thrives in almost any soil, and requires no cultivation: it is
multiplied by dividing the roots. It flowers at all times of the year in
bunches of white flowers with long sepals.
The _Double Tuberose_, P. florepleno, is very rich in appearance, and of
more delicate fragrance, although still too powerful for the room. Crows
are great destroyers of the blossoms, which they appear fond of pecking.
This variety is more rare, and the best specimens have been obtained
from Hobart Town. It is rather more delicate and requires more attention
in culture than the indigenous variety, and should be earthed up, so as
to prevent water lodging around the stem.
The LOBELIA is a brilliant class of flowers which may be greatly
improved by careful cultivation.
The _Splendid Lobelia_, L. splendens, is found in many gardens, and is a
showy scarlet flower, well worthy of culture.
The _Pyramidal Lobelia_, L. pyramidalis, is a native of Nepal, and is a
modest pretty flower, of a purple color.
_Propagation_--is best performed by offsets, suckers, or cuttings, but
seeds produce good strong plants, which may with care, be made to
_Soil, &c._--A moist, sandy soil is requisite for them, the small
varieties especially delighting in wet ground. Some few of this family
are annuals, and the roots of no varieties should remain more than three
years without renewal, as the blossoms are apt to deteriorate; they all
flower during the rains.
The PITCAIRNIA is a very handsome species, having long narrow leaves,
with, spined edges and throwing up blossoms in upright spines.
The _Long Stamened Pitcairnia_, P. staminea, is a splendid scarlet
flower, lasting long in blossom, which, appears in July or August, and
continues till December.
The _Scarlet Pitcairnia_, P. bromeliaefolia, is also a fine rich scarlet
flower, but blossoming somewhat sooner, and may be made to continue
about a month later.
_Propagation_--is by dividing the roots, or by suckers, which is best
performed at the close of the rains.
_Soil, &c._ A sandy peat is the favorite soil of this plant, which
should be kept very moist.
The DAHLIA, Dahlia; a few years since an attempt was made to rename this
beautiful and extensive family and to call it Georgina, but it failed,
and it is still better known throughout the world by its old name than
the new. It was long supposed that the Dahlia was only found indigenous
in Mexico, but Captain Kirke some few years back brought to the notice
of the Horticultural Society, that it was to be met with in great
abundance in Dheyra Dhoon, producing many varieties both single and
double; and he has from time to time sent down quantities of seed, which
have greatly assisted its increase in all parts of India. It has also
been found in Nagpore.
A good Dahlia is judged of by its form, size, and color. In respect to
the first of these its _form_ should be perfectly round, without any
inequalities of projecting points of the petals, or being notched, or
irregular. These should also be so far revolute that the side view
should exhibit a perfect semicircle in its outline, and the eye or
prolific disc, in the centre should be entirely concealed. There has
been recently introduced into this country a new variety, all the petals
of which are quilled, which has a very handsome appearance.
In _size_ although of small estimation if the other qualities are
defective, it is yet of some consideration, but the larger flowers are
apt to be wanting in that perfect hemispherical form that is so much
The _color_ is of great importance to the perfection of the flower; of
those that are of one color this should be clear, unbroken, and
distinct; but when mixed hues are sought, each color should be clearly
and distinctly defined without any mingling of shades, or running into
each other. Further, the flowers ought to be erect so as to exhibit the
blossom in the fullest manner to the view. The most usual colors of the
imported double Dahlias, met with in India, are crimson, scarlet,
orange, purple, and white. Amongst those raised from seed from. Dheyra
Dhoon of the double kind, there are of single colors, crimson, deep
crimson approaching to maroon, deep lilac, pale lilac, violet, pink,
light purple, canary color, yellow, red, and white; and of mixed colors,
white and pink, red and yellow, and orange and white: the single ones of
good star shaped flowers and even petals being of crimson, puce, lilac,
pale lilac, white, and orange. Those from Nagpore seed have yielded,
double flowers of deep crimson, lilac, and pale purple, amongst single
colors; lilac and blue, and red and yellow of mixed shades; and single
flowered, crimson, and orange, with mixed colors of lilac and yellow,
and lilac and white.
_Propagation_--is by dividing the roots, by cuttings, by suckers, or by
seed; the latter is generally resorted to, where new varieties are
desired. Mr. George A. Lake, in an article on this subject (_Gardeners'
Magazine_, 1833) says: "I speak advisedly, and from, experience, when I
assert that plants raised from cuttings do not produce equally perfect
flowers, in regard to size, form, and fulness, with those produced by
plants grown from division of tubers;" and he more fully shews in
another part of the same paper, that this appears altogether conformable
to reason, as the cutting must necessarily for a long period want that
store of starch, which is heaped up in the full grown tuber for the
nutriment of the plant. This objection however might be met by not
allowing the cuttings to flower in the season when they are struck.
To those who are curious in the cultivation of this handsome species, it
may be well to know how to secure varieties, especially of mixed colors;
for this purpose it is necessary to cover the blossoms intended for
fecundation with fine gauze tied firmly to the foot stalk, and when it
expands take the pollen from the male flowers with a camel's hair
pencil, and touch with it each floret of the intended bearing flower,
tying the gauze again over it, and keeping it on until the petals are
withered. The operation requires to be performed two or three successive
days, as the florets do not expand together.
_Soil &c._ They thrive best in a rich loam, mixed with sand; but should
not be repeated too often on the same spot, as they exhaust the soil
_Culture_. The Dahlia requires an open, airy position unsheltered by
trees or walls, the plants should be put out where they are to blossom,
immediately on the cessation of the rains, at a distance of three feet
apart, either in rows or in clumps, as they make a handsome show in a
mass; and as they grow should be trimmed from the lower shoots, to about
a foot in height, and either tied carefully to a stake, or, what is
better, surrounded by a square or circular trellis, about five feet in
height. As the buds form they should be trimmed off, so as to leave but
one on each stalk, this being the only method by which full, large, and
perfectly shaped blossoms are obtained. Some people take up the tubers
every year in February or March, but this is unnecessary. The plants
blossom in November and December in the greatest perfection, but may
with attention be continued from the beginning of October to the end of
Those plants which are left in the ground during the whole year should
have their roots opened immediately on the close of the rains, the
superabundant or decayed tubers, and all suckers being removed, and
fresh earth filled in. The earth should always be heaped up high around
the stems, and it is a good plan to surround each plant with a small
trench to be filled daily with water so as to keep the stem and leaves
The PINK, Dianthus, _Kurunful_, is a well known species of great
variety, and acknowledged beauty.
The _Carnation_, D. caryophyilus, _Gul kurunful_, is by this time
naturalized in India, adding both beauty and fragrance to the parterre;
the only variety however that has yet appeared in the country is the
clove, or deep crimson colored: but the success attending the culture of
this beautiful flower is surely an encouragement to the introduction of
other sorts, there being above four hundred kinds, especially as they
may be obtained from seed or pipings sent packed in moss, which will
remain in good condition for two or three months, provided no moisture
beyond what is natural to the moss, have access to them.
The distinguishing marks of a good carnation may be thus described: the
stem should be tall and straight, strong, elastic, and having rather
short foot stalks, the flower should be fully three inches in diameter
with large well formed petals, round and uncut, long and broad, so as to
stand out well, rising about half an inch above the calyx, and then the
outer ones turned off in a horizontal direction, supporting those of the
centre, decreasing gradually in size, the whole forming a near approach
to a hemisphere. It flowers in April and May.
_Propagation_--is performed either by seed, by layers, or by pipings;
the best time for making the two latter is when the plant is in full
blossom, as they then root more strongly. In this operation the lower
leaves should be trimmed off, and an incision made with a sharp knife,
by entering the knife about a quarter of an inch below the joint,
passing it through its centre; it must then be pegged down with a hooked
peg, and covered with about a quarter of an inch of light rich mould; if
kept regularly moist, the layers will root in about a month's time: they
may then be taken off and planted out into pots in a sheltered
situation, neither exposed to excessive rain, nor sun, until they shoot
Pipings (or cuttings as they are called in other plants) must be taken
off from a healthy, free growing plant, and should have two complete
joints, being cut off horizontally close under the second one; the
extremities of the leaves must also be shortened, leaving the whole
length of each piping two inches; they should be thrown into a basin of
soft water for a few minutes to plump them, and then planted out in
moist rich mould, not more than an inch being inserted therein, and
slightly watered to settle the earth close around them; after this the
soil should be kept moderately moist, and never exposed to the sun. Seed
is seldom resorted to except to introduce new varieties.
_Soil, &c._--A mixture of old well rotted stable manure, with one-third
the quantity of good fine loamy earth, and a small portion of sand, is
the best soil for carnations.
_Culture_.--The plants should be sheltered from too heavy a fall of
rain, although they require to be kept moderately moist, and desire an
airy situation. When the flower stalks are about six or eight inches in
height, they must be supported by sticks, and, if large full blossoms be
sought for, all the buds, except the leading one, must be removed with a
pair of scissors; the calyx must also be frequently examined, as it is
apt to burst, and if any disposition to this should appear, it will be
well to assist the uniform expansion by cutting the angles with a sharp
penknife. If, despite all precautions the calyx burst and let out the
petals, it should be carefully tied with thread, or a circular piece of
card having a hole in the centre should be drawn over the bud so as to
hold the petals together, and display them to advantage by the contrast
of the white color.
_Insects, &c._--The most destructive are the red, and the large black
ant, which attack, and frequently entirely destroy the roots before you
can be aware of its approach; powdered turmeric should therefore be
constantly kept strewed around this flower.
The _Common Pink_, Dianthus Chinensis, _Kurunful_, and the _Sweet
William_, D: barbatus, are pretty, ornamental plants, and may be
propagated and cultivated in the same way as the carnation, save that
they do not require so much care, or so good a soil, any garden mould
sufficing; they are also more easily produced from seed.
The VIOLET, Viola, _Puroos_, is a class containing many beautiful
flowers, some highly ornamental and others odoriferous.
The _Sweet Violet_, V. odorata, _Bunufsh'eh_, truly the poet's flower.
It is a deserved favorite for its delightful fragrance as well as its
delicate and retiring purple flowers; there is also a white variety, but
it is rare in this country, as is also the double kind. This blossoms in
the latter part of the cold weather.
The _Shrubby Violet_, V. arborescens, or suffruticosa, _Rutunpuroos_,
grows wild in the hills, and is a pretty blue flower, but wants the
fragrance of the foregoing.
The _Dog's Violet_, V. canina, is also indigenous in the hills.
_Propagation_.--All varieties may be propagated by seed, but the most
usual method is by dividing the roots, or taking off the runners.
_Soil, &c._--The natural _habitat_ of the indigenous varieties is the
sides and interstices of the rocks, where leaf mould, and micaceous
sand, has accumulated and moisture been retained, indicating that the
kind of soil favorable to the growth of this interesting little plant is
a rich vegetable mould, with an admixture of sand, somewhat moist, but
having a dry subsoil.
_Culture_.--It would not be safe to trust this plant in the open ground
except during a very short period of the early part of the cold weather,
when the so doing will give it strength to form blossoms. In January,
however, it should be re-potted, filling the pots about half-full of
pebbles or stone-mason's cuttings, over which should be placed good rich
vegetable mould, mixed with a large proportion of sand, covering with a
thin layer of the same material as has been put into the bottom of the
pot; a top dressing of ground bones is said to improve the fineness of
the blossoms. They should not be kept too dry, but at the same time
watered cautiously, as too much of either heat or moisture destroys the
The _Pansy_ or _Heart's-ease_, V. tricolor, _Kheeroo, kheearee_, derives
its first name from the French _Pensee_. It was known amongst the early
Christians by the name of _Flos Trinitatis_, and worn as a symbol of
their faith. The high estimation which it has of late years attained in
Great Britain as a florist's flower has, in the last two or three years,
extended itself to this country. There are nearly four hundred
varieties, a few of which only have been found here.
_The characters of a fine Heart's-ease_ are, the flower being well
expanded, offering a flat, or if any thing, rather a revolute surface,
and the petals so overlapping each other as to form a circle without any
break in the outline. These should be as nearly as possible of a size,
and the greater length of the two upper ones concealed by the covering
of those at the side in such manner as to preserve the appearance of
just proportion: the bottom petal being broad and two-lobed, and well
expanded, not curving inwards. The eye should be of moderate, or rather
small size, and much additional beauty is afforded, if the pencilling is
so arranged as to give the appearance of a dark angular spot. The colors
must also be clear, bright, and even, not clouded or indistinct.
Undoubtedly the handsomest kinds are those in which the two upper petals
are of deep purple and the triade of a shade less: in all, the flower
stalk should be long and stiff. The plant blossoms in this country in
February and March, although it is elsewhere a summer flower.
_Propagation_.--In England the moat usual methods are dividing the
roots, layers, or cuttings from the stem, and these are certainly the
only sure means of preserving a good variety; but it is almost
impossible in India to preserve the plant through the hot weather, and
therefore it is more generally treated as an annual, and raised every
year from seed, which should be sown at the close of the rains; as
however their growth, in India is as yet little known, most people put
the imported seed into pots as soon as it arrives, lest the climate
should deteriorate its germinating power, as it is well known, that even
in Europe the seed should be sown as soon as possible after ripening. It
will be well also to assist its sprouting with a little bottom heat, by
plunging the pot up to its rim in a hot bed. American seed should be
avoided as the blossoms are little to be depended on, and generally
yield small, ill-formed flowers, clouded and run in color.
_Soil, &c._--This should be moist, and the best compost is formed of
one-sixth of well rotted dung from an old hot bed, and five-sixth of
loam, or one-fourth of leaf mould and the remainder loam, but in either
case well incorporated and exposed for some time previous to use to the
action of the sun and air by frequent turning.
_Culture_.--A shady situation is to be preferred, especially for the
dark varieties which assume a deeper hue if so placed. But it has been
observed by Mackintosh, that "the light varieties bloomed lighter in the
shade, and darker in the sunshine--a very remarkable effect, for which I
cannot account." The plants must at all times be kept moist, never being
allowed to become dry, and should be so placed as to receive only the
morning sun before ten o'clock. Under good management the plants will
extend a foot or more in height, and have a handsome appearance if
trained over a circular trellis of rattan twisted. When they rise too
high, or it is desirable to fill out with side shoots, the tops must be
pinched off, and larger flowers will be obtained if the flower buds are
thinned out where they appear crowded.
These plants look very handsome when grown in large masses of several
varieties, but the seeds of those grown in this manner should not be
made use of, as they are sure to sport; to prevent which it is also
necessary that the plants which it is desired to perpetuate in this
manner should be isolated at a distance from any other kind, and it
would be advisable to cover them with thin gauze to prevent impregnation
from others by means of the bees and other insects. For show flowers the
branches should be kept down, and not suffered to straggle out or
multiply; these will also be improved by pegging the longer branches
down under the soil, and thereby increasing the number of the root
fibres, hence adding to their power of accumulating nourishment, and not
allowing them to expand beyond a limited number of blossoms, and those
retained should be as nearly equal in age as possible.
The HYDRANGEA is a hardy plant requiring a good deal of moisture, being
by nature an inhabitant of the marshes.
The _Changeable Hydrangea_, H. hortensis, is of Chinese origin and a
pretty growing plant that deserves to be a favorite; it blossoms in
bunches of flowers at the extremities of the branches which are
naturally pink, but in old peat earth, or having a mixture of alum, or
iron filings, the color changes to blue. It blooms in March and April.
_Propagation_ may be effected by cuttings, which root freely, or by
_Soil, &c._--Loam and old leaf mould, or peat with a very small
admixture of sand suits this plant. Their growth is much promoted by
being turned out, for a month or two in the rains, into the open ground,
and then re-potted with new soil, the old being entirely removed from
the roots: and to make it flower well it must not be encumbered with too
The HOYA is properly a trailing plant, rooting at the joints, but have
been generally cultivated here as a twiner.
The _Fleshy-leaved Hoya_, H. carnosa, is vulgarly called the wax flower
from its singular star shaped-whitish pink blossoms, with a deep colored
varnished centre, having more the appearance of a wax model than a
production of nature. The flowers appear in globular groups and have a
very handsome appearance from the beginning of April to the close of the
The _Green flowered Hoya_, H. viridiflora, _Nukchukoree, teel kunga_,
with its green flowers in numerous groups, is also an interesting plant,
it is esteemed also for its medicinal properties.
_Propagation_.--Every morsel of these plants, even a piece of the leaf,
will form roots if put in the ground, cuttings therefore strike very
freely, as do layers, the joints naturally throwing out root-fibres
although not in the earth.
_Soil, &c._--A light loam moderately dry is the best for these plants,
which look well if trained round a circular trellis in the open border.
The STAPELIA is an extensive genus of low succulent plants without
leaves, but yielding singularly handsome star-shaped flowers; they are
of African origin growing in the sandy deserts, but in a natural state
very diminutive being increased to their present condition and numerous
varieties by cultivation, they mostly have an offensive smell whence
some people call them the carrion plant. They deserve more attention
than has hitherto been shown to them in India.
The _Variegated Stapelia_, S. variegata, yields a flower in November,
the thick petals of which are yellowish green with brown irregular
spots, it is the simplest of the family.
The _Revolute-flowered Stapelia_, S. revoluta, has a green blossom very
fully sprinkled with deep purple, it flowers at the close of the rains.
The _Toad Stapelia_, S. bufonia, as its name implies, is marked like the
back of the reptile from whence it has its name; it flowers in December
The _Hairy Stapelia_, S. hirsuta, is a very handsome variety, being,
like the rest, of green and brown, but the entire flower covered with
fine filaments or hairs of a light purple, at various periods of the
The _Starry Stapelia_, S. stellaris, is perhaps the most beautiful of
the whole, being like the last covered with hairs, but they are of a
bright pinkish blue color; there appears to be no fixed period for
The HAIRY CARRULLUMA, C. crinalata, belongs to the same family as the
foregoing species, which it much resembles, except that it blossoms in
good sized globular groups of small star-shaped flowers of green,
studded and streaked with brown.
_Propagation_ is exceedingly easy with each of the last named two
species; as the smallest piece put in any soil that is moist, without
being saturated, will throw out root fibres.
_Soil, &c._--This should consist of one-half sand, one-fourth garden
mould, and one-fourth well rotted stable manure. The pots in which they
are planted should have on the top a layer of pebbles, or broken brick.
All the after culture they require is to keep them within bounds,
removing decayed portions as they appear and avoiding their having too
The perennial border plants, besides those included above, are very
numerous; the directions for cultivation admitting, from their
similarity, of the following general rules:--
_Propagation_.--Although some few will admit of other modes of
multiplication, the most usually successful are by seed, by suckers, or
by offsets, and by division of the root, the last being applicable to
nine-tenths of the hardy herbaceous plants, and performed either by
taking up the whole plant and gently separating it by the hand, or by
opening the ground near the one to be divided, and cutting off a part of
the roots and crown to make new the sections being either at once
planted where they are to stand, or placed for a short period in a
nursery; the best time for this operation is the beginning of the rains.
Offsets or suckers being rapidly produced during the rains, will be best
removed towards their close, at which period, also, seed should be sown
to benefit by the moisture remaining in the soil. The depth at which
seeds are buried in the earth varies with their magnitude, all the pea
or vetch kind will bear being put at a depth of from half an inch to one
inch; but with the smallest seeds it will be sufficient to scatter them,
on the sifted soil, beating them down with, the palm of the hand.
_Culture_.--Transplanting this description of plants will be performed
to best advantage during the rains. The general management is
comprehended in stirring the soil occasionally in the immediate vicinity
of the roots; taking up overgrown plants, reducing and replanting them,
for which the rains is the best time; renewing the soil around the
roots; sticking the weak plants; pruning and trimming others, so as to
remove all weakly or decayed parts.
Once a year, before the rains, the whole border should be dug one or two
spits deep, adding soil from the bottom of a tank or river; and again,
in the cold weather, giving a moderate supply of well rotted stable
manure, and leaf mould in equal portions.
Crossing is considered as yet in its infancy even in England, and has,
except with the Marvel of Peru, hardly even been attempted in this
country. The principles under which this is effected are fully explained
at page 27 of the former part of this work; but it may also be done in
the more woody kinds by grafting one or more of the same genus on the
stock of another, the seed of which would give a new variety.
Saving seed requires great attention in India, as it should be taken
during the hot weather if possible; to effect which the earliest
blossoms must be preserved for this purpose. With some kinds it will be
advisable to assist nature by artificial impregnation with a camel hair
pencil, carefully placing the pollen on the point of the stigma. The
seeds should be carefully dried in some open, airy place, but not
exposed to the sun, care being afterwards taken that they shall be
deposited in a dry place, not close or damp, whence the usual plan of
storing the seeds in bottles is not advisable.
* * * * *
Bulbs have not as yet received that degree of attention in this country
(India) that they deserve, and they may be considered to form a separate
class, requiring a mode of culture differing from that of others. Their
slow progress has discouraged many and a supposition that they will only
thrive in the Upper Provinces, has deterred others from attempting to
grow them, an idea which has also been somewhat fostered by the
Horticultural Society, when they received a supply from England, having
sent the larger portion of them to their subscribers in the North West
The NARCISSUS will thrive with care, in all parts of India, and it is a
matter of surprise that it is not more frequently met with. A good
Narcissus should have the six petals well formed, regularly and evenly
disposed, with a cup of good form, the colors distinct and clear, raised
on strong erect stems, and flowering together.
The _Polyanthes Narcissus_, N. tazetta, _Narjus, hur'huft nusreen_, is
of two classes, white and sulphur colored, but these have sported into
almost endless varieties, especially amongst the Dutch, with whom this
and most other bulbs are great favorites. It flowers in February and
The _Poet's Narcissus_, N. poeticus, _Moozhan, zureenkuda_ is the
favorite, alike for its fragrance and its delicate and graceful
appearance, the petals being white and the cup a deep yellow: it flowers
from the beginning of January to the end of March and thrives well. The
first within the recollection of the author, in Bengal, was at Patna,
nearly twelve years since, in possession of a lady there under whose
care it blossomed freely in the shade, in the month of February.
The _Daffodil_, N. pseudo-narcissus, _Khumsee buroonk_, is of pale
yellow, and some of the double varieties are very handsome.
_Propagation_ is by offsets, pulled off after the bulbs are taken out of
the ground, and sufficiently hardened.
_Soil, &c._--The best is a fresh, light loam with some well rotted cow
dung for the root fibres to strike into, and the bottom of the pot to
the height of one-third filled with pebbles or broken brick. They will
not blossom until the fifth year, and to secure strong flowers the bulbs
should only be taken up every third year. An eastern aspect where they
get only the morning sun, is to be preferred. The PANCRATIUM is a
handsome species that thrives well, some varieties being indigenous, and
others fully acclimated, generally flowering about May or June.
The _One-flowered Pancratium_, P. zeylanicum, is rather later than the
rest in flowering and bears a curiously formed white flower.
The _Two-flowered Pancratium_, P. triflorum, _Sada kunool_, was so named
by Roxburg, and gives a white flower in groups of threes, as its name
The _Oval leaved pancratium_, P. ovatum, although of West Indian origin,
is so thoroughly acclimated as to be quite common in the Indian Garden.
_Propagation_.--The best method is by suckers or offsets which are
thrown out very freely by all the varieties.
_Soil, &c._--Any common garden soil will suit this plant, but they
thrive best with a good admixture of rich vegetable mould.
The HYACINTH, Hyacinthus, is an elegant flower, especially the double
kind. The first bloomed in Calcutta was exhibited at the flower show
some three years since, but proved an imperfect blossom and not clear
colored; a very handsome one, however, was shown by Mrs. Macleod in
February 1847, and was raised from a stock originally obtained at
Simlah. The Dutch florists have nearly two thousand varieties.
The distinguishing marks of a good hyacinth are clear bright colors,
free from clouding or sporting, broad bold petals, full, large and
perfectly doubled, sufficiently revolute to give the whole mass a degree
of convexity: the stem strong and erect and the foot stalks horizontal
at the base, gradually taking an angle upwards as they approach the
crown, so as to place the flowers in a pyramidical form, occupying about
one-half the length of the stem.
The _Amethyst colored Hyacinth_, H. amethystimus, is a fine handsome
flower, varying in shade from pale blue to purple, and having bell
shaped flowers, but the foot stalks are generally not strong and they
are apt to become pendulous.
The _Garden Hyacinth_, H. orientalis, _Sumbul, abrood_, is the handsomer
variety, the flowers being trumpet shaped, very double and of varying
colors--pink, red, blue, white, or yellow, and originally of eastern
growth. It flowers in February and has considerable fragrance.
_Propagation_.--In Europe this is sometimes performed by seed, but as
this requires to be put into the ground as soon as possible after
ripening, and moreover takes a long time to germinate, this method would
hardly answer in this country, which must therefore, at least for the
present, depend upon imported bulbs and offsets.
_Soil, &c._--This, as well as its after culture, is the same as for the
Narcissus. They will not show flowers until the second year, and not in
good bloom before the fifth or sixth of their planting out.
The CROCUS, Crocus lutens, having no native name, has yet, it is
believed, been hardly ever known to flower here, even with the utmost
care. A good crocus has its colors clear, brilliant, and distinctly
_Propagation_--must be effected, for new varieties, by seeds, but the
species are multiplied by offsets of the bulb.
_Soil, &c._ Any fair garden soil is good for the crocus, but it prefers
that which is somewhat sandy.
_Culture_. The small bulbs should be planted in clumps at the depth of
two inches; the leaves should not be cut off after the plant has done
blossoming, as the nourishment for the future season's flower is
gathered by them.
The IXIA, is originally from the Cape, and belongs to the class of
Iridae: the Ixia Chinensis, more properly Morea Chinensis, is a native
of India and China, and common in most gardens.
_Propagation_--is by offsets.
_Soil, &c._ The best is of peat and sand, it thrives however in good
garden soil, if not too stiff, and requires no particular cultivation.
The LILY, Lilium, _Soosun_, the latter derived from the Hebrew, is a
handsome species that deserves more care than it has yet received in
India, where some of the varieties are indigenous.
The _Japan Lily_, L. japonicum, is a very tall growing plant, reaching
about 5 feet in height with broad handsome flowers of pure white, and a
small streak of blue, in the rains.
The _Daunan Lily_, L. dauricum, _Rufeef, soosun_, gives an erect, light
orange flower in the rains.
The _Canadian lily_, L. Canadense _B'uhmutan_, flowers in the rains in
pairs of drooping reflexed blossoms of a rather darker orange, sometimes
spotted with a deeper shade.
_Propagation_--is effected by offsets, which however will not flower
until the third or fourth year.
_Soil, &c._ This is the same as for the Narcissus, but they do not
require taking up more frequently than once in three years, and that
only for about a month at the close of the rains, the Japan lily will
thrive even under the shade of trees.
The AMARYLLIS is a very handsome flower, which has been found to thrive
well in this country, and has a great variety, all of which possess much
beauty, some kinds are very hardy, and will grow freely in the open
The _Mexican Lily_, A. regina Mexicanae, is a common hardy variety found
in most gardens, yielding an orange red flower in the months of March
and April, and will thrive even under the shades of trees.
The _Ceylonese Amaryllis_, A: zeylanica, _Suk'h dursun_, gives a pretty
flower about the same period.
The _Jacoboean Lily_, A, formosissima, has a handsome dark red flower of
singular form, having three petals well expanded above, and three others
downwards rolled over the fructile organs on the base, so as to give the
idea of its being the model whence the Bourbon _fleur de lis_ was taken,
the stem is shorter than the two previous kinds, blossoming in April or
The _Noble Amaryllis_, A: insignia, is a tall variety, having pink
flowers in March or April.
The _Broad-leaved Amaryllis_, A: latifolia, is a native of India with
pinkish white flowers about the same period of the year.
The _Belladonna Lily_. A: belladonna is of moderately high stem,
supporting a pink flower of the same singular form as the Jacoboean
lily, in May and June.
_Propagation_--is by offsets of the bulb, which most kinds throw out
very freely, sometimes to the extent of ten, or a dozen in the season.
_Soil, &c._--For the choice kinds is the same as is required for the
narcissus, and water should on no account be given over the leaves or
upper part of the bulb.
The common kinds look well in masses, and a good form of planting them
is in a series of raised circles, so as for the whole to form a round
The DOG'S TOOTH VIOLET, Erythronium, is a pretty flowering bulb and a
great favorite with florists in Europe.
The _Common Dog's tooth Violet_, E. dens canis, is ordinarily found of
reddish purple, there is also a white variety, but it is rare, neither
of them grow above three or four inches in height, and flower in March
The _Indian Dog's tooth Violet_, E. indicum, _junglee kanda_, is found
in the hills, and flowers at about the same time, with a pink blossom.
The SUPERB GLORIOSA, Gloriosa superba, _Kareearee, eeskooee langula_, is
a very beautiful species of climbing bulb, a native of this country, and
on that account neglected, although highly esteemed as a stove plant in
England; the leaves bear tendrils at the points, and the flower, which
is pendulous, when first expanded, throws its petals nearly erect of
yellowish green, which gradually changes to yellow at the base and
bright scarlet at the point; the pistil which shoots from the seed
vessel horizontally possesses the singular property of making an entire
circuit between sun-rise and sun-set each day that the flower continues,
which is generally for some time, receiving impregnation from every
author as it visits them in succession. It blooms in the latter part of
_Propagation_ is in India sometimes from seed, but in Europe it is
confined to division of the offsets.
_Soil, &c._--Most garden soils will suit this plant, but it affords the
handsomest, and richest colored flowers in fresh loam mixed with peat or
leaf mould, without dung. It should not have too much water when first
commencing its growth, and it requires the support of a trellis over
which it will bear training to a considerable extent, growing to the
height of from five to six feet.
MANY OTHER BULBS, there is no doubt, might be successfully grown in
India where every thing is favorable to their growth, and so much
facility presents itself for procuring them from the Cape of Good Hope;
the natural _habitat_ of so many varieties of the handsomest species,
nearly all of them flowering between the end of the cold weather and the
close of the rains.
Some of these being hardy, thrive in the open ground with but little
care or trouble, others requiring very great attention, protection from
exposure, and shelter from the heat of the sun, and the intensity of its
rays; which should therefore have a particular portion of the plant-shed
assigned to them, such being inhabitants of the green house in colder
climates, and the reason of assigning them such separated part of the
chief house, or what is better perhaps, a small house to themselves, is