Posts Tagged ‘floricultural cabinet’

Changing opinions on a winter wonder

December 14th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

White-stemmed raspberry has lovely winter stems plus tasty berries

With gardening a rather soggy business recently, interest continues in The Floricultural Cabinet and Florists’ Magazine for December 1852, “conducted by” Joseph Harrison.

Each month, the good Mr Harrison includes Notes On New Or Rare Plants, details of which he unashamedly, and with appropriate credits, borrows from other titles. It’s a little like Amateur Gardening magazine quoting from a piece on new plants in Gardeners’ World magazine.

One of those discussed in December 1852, Rubus biflorus, catches my attention and so I’m continuing in the tradition of Mr Harrison by quoting details from his magazine here:

“This very handsome Bramble has been obtained from Nepaul by Mssrs. Veitch. It is quite hardy and very ornamental. The stems spring from the ground on clusters, like our common Raspberry, and attains a height of ten or twelve feet, erect, branched. The stems are very white, appearing as if they had been whitewashed. The flowers are produced in profusion, white, each blossom nearly an inch across; they are succeeded by well-flavoured fruit, as large as a usual-sized Raspberry, and of a beautiful orange or deep amber colour. It is not valuable for an ornament for the shrubbery, but would be a handsome agreeable-flavoured fruit for the table.” Thank you to the Botanical Magazine, from whom The Floricultural Cabinet sourced their information.

Problem is…. Firstly, “not valuable for an ornament for the shrubbery”? No. Rubus biflorus, and the related Rubus cockburnianus, are superb shrubs whose white stems provide invaluable bright winter colour.

But there’s a conundrum. I’ve never seen the amber fruits on R. biflorus because to produce the best display of white stems, and to keep the plants well below the mature height of 3-4m, the plants are cut down to the ground in early spring. And the stems you cut down are the ones that carry the berries.

So if you grow Rubus biflorus, or the black fruited R. cockburnianus – leave a few stems unpruned and check out the flavour.

Concrete and bark paths – and manure

December 7th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Path through perennials made from shredded black bark

With rain like stair rods, gardening has been, well, limited recently. So it’s time again to pull off the bookshelf the wisdom of gardeners of long ago, and open the doors of The Floricultural Cabinet and Florists’ Magazine for December 1852, conducted by our old friend from previous posts – Joseph Harrison.

There’s a lot of discussion of tropical variegated plants together with a slightly surprising note from J. Beaston on the subject of Concrete Surface Walks. “I observe a correspondent,” he says, “who has some walks thus constructed, states that they are objectionable in consequence of being hard; the surface does not yield in the least to the tread, and the rough pebbles make it painful to the feet.”

Now it may seem surprising that complaint is made that concrete is, well, hard. But this is 1852 and, in spite of being in use since before the ancient Egyptian civilisation, concrete was still relatively unknown. Strangely, the good Mr Beaston then goes on to describe in great detail how to make what appears to be a progenitor of the tarmac path – which must have been just as hard as concrete.

Me? I’m a fan of a black shredded bark path. Soft, soft, inexpensive, the ideal colour to go with green foliage and easily replenished every spring.

However, oddly, after the long discourse on how to make a different kind of hard path, a contribution follows immediately from J. J. Mechi of Tiptree Hall in Kelvedon in Essex, who dives right in with: “In fact, I see clearly that the liquefied manure will enable me to produce my root crops at 5 shillings per ton, and will very largely increase my other productions.”

So there you have it, the garden in December!

Plant associations the 19th century way

June 22nd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

"harmony of colouring" 19th century style

So, the other day I was browsing through the June 1852 issue of the Floricultural Cabinet magazine – the way you do – and I came across some interesting observations about plant associations.

“We have frequently called attention of our young readers,” says Joseph Harrison who “conducted” the magazine, “to the desirability of paying strict attention to the judicious arrangements of flowering plants, as regards height and harmony of colouring.

“It is true,” he goes on,” that, of late years, this subject has become a matter of study amongst gardeners and great changes for the better have taken place in this respect; still we are far from supposing that we have arrived at perfection.

“Always bear in mind – if beauty, order and effect are desired – that attention to this, next to a well laid-out flower-garden, is essential to their full development.

“In producing well-arranged contrasts, the different shades of colour must be as distinct from each other as possible: for instance, white should never be placed in contact with yellow, or deep blue with crimson; but white forms a good contrast with blue or red, blue to orange, yellow to purple or violet, dark crimson to light blue, and scarlet should be placed near those which have profuse green foliage, as red and green form the best contrast. Orange and violet do well. Greenish-yellow and rose contrast well.”

This is what I’ve referred to in the past as the “right between the eyes” style of plant association: the bolder and brighter the contrast the better. And it works.

Of course, not everyone enjoys that approach. For many of us, a calmer and more harmonious arrangement of pastels is preferable – but this was clearly not in vogue in 1852.