« ElőzőTovább »
ADDRESS TO THE READER .
I BELIEVE there are many old florists, who would give their ears had the idea of publishing certain rules for judging flowers by a perfect model, instead of by comparison with general favourites, crossed their mind instead of mine ; they would make great sacrifices to be the author of “the Properties of Flowers and Plants.” I must not pretend that I was the first who attempted to lay down rules ; because Maddocks, and many others, had published what they considered to be “the Criterion of a perfect Tulip,” auricula, carnation, pink, and some others. “ The Criterion,” however, was a lame affair ; founded on no principle, assimilated to no understandable objects, and not half defined; there was nothing in “ The Criterion” of a good flower that could be acted upon. The best collection, perhaps, of these criterions is to be found in Loudon's Encyclopedia, not all his own, but part collected from other authors. Let us sce what
they said, and what I established ; at the same time it must be recollected, that I cannot be answerable for the authorship. The late Mr. Loudon did not, on all occasions, tell us who was the writer. In some cases they may be his own “criterions ;" but let us take them in the rotation in which they appear.
In the criterion of The Hyacinth, not one word is mentioned about the individual pip being of any particular form, except that it should be perfectly double. He says, “ The stem should be strong, tall, and erect, supporting numerous large bells, each suspended by a short, strong peduncle or footstalk, in a horizontal position, so that the whole may have a compact pyramidal form, with the crown or upper flower perfectly erect ;” and then he goes on to say of the pips or individual flowers, that they “should be large, and perfectly double ; that is, well filled with broad, bold petals, appearing to the eye rather convex, than either flat or hollow.” Well, all the first part contradicts itself. If the bells are to be suspended on short horizontal footstalks, the flower spike must be equal all the way up, yet they are to be of a compact, pyramidal form ; and with regard to the individual flowers, I say they ought to be round in the outline, and halfround on the face;. in other words, they should
be half a ball, and the lower ones should be attached to long horizontal footstalks, and the stalks should gradually shorten as they near the top. My properties of the hyacinth, therefore, corrected these errors and omissions.
Next comes T'he Tulip. The criterion, says Loudon, among other things is, that it “should be large, and composed of six petals ; these should proceed horizontally at first, and then turn upwards, forming almost a perfect cup with a round bottom, rather widest at top.” A drinking horn or cup, is of precisely this shape. I decided that it should be a portion of a hollow ball, and having done so, I had at first half a dozen mongrels yelping at my heels, against my decision ; and as soon as the public would have it so, they turned round, and described the same thing, with unimportant deviations, as their own.
The Ranunculus was, unquestionably, better described than any other flower, but not properly neither, on says it should be hemispherical, and I made the alteration that was required. It should be two-thirds of a ball, for all above two-thirds is detrimental.
The Anemone is required by Loudon, or the author he quotes, to consist of well rounded petals; and if any body will take the trouble to place half a dozen shillings round a seventh, a
flower of his standard will be appreciated ; whereas I have defined the flower itself to be round, and said the centre or portion that forms what is called the doubleness, should be half a ball, formed of the florets; but I have defined another class of double flowers.
The "criterion of a good Crocus,” in the same book, does not give the least idea of form, nor texture, but merely requires clear colours, and so forth. I have insisted on a particular form and thickness of petal.
The Narcissus is required by Mr. Loudon to possess “ regularity of form and disposition in the petals and nectars.” Who was to know what regularity of form and disposition meant? Narrow petals would do as well as wide ones ; notched as well as plain ; thin as well as thick. Nobody, however, could mistake my definition, which leaves nothing uncertain.
The Dahlia has its “criterion,” as well as other flowers, and I will give that whole for its singularity. “The plant short, stiff, and bushy, prolific in flowers, having short peduncles ; the flower well expanded, and standing boldly to the view, and the colours clear and distinct.” Why, no man can call this any criterion ! A semi-double, or even a single flower, with thin, notched, ragged, or pointed petals, and a disk as large as a