(Milkweed. Nat. Ord. Asclepiaceae).This genus, though a large one, is very little known save to students of hardy herbaceous plants, or those who make a direct speciality of their culture. Some are not hardy, but these we are not dealing with here. The rest are useful, hardy, ornamental plants, though the nomenclature of the species is somewhat confused. They may be used in the border, but the site should be warm and sunny and some winter protection given. Regarding the soil, I am informed they do best in a peaty medium, but, personally, I do not think this is essential. To propagate them, sow seed in the usual way at the usual times for perennials. They mayjalso be increased by division of the roots in the spring, and may be planted any time from November to the end of March. What to Grow.Species are numerous. We recommend any of the following : Asclepias amplexicaulis . A desirable red sort blooming during July, and averaging 2 ft. in height. A. Douglasii (S)ti. A. speciosa). A useful red sort, blooming in September and October, which averages about 24 ins. in height. A. incarnata.A reddish-purple sort of no great value, blooming from July onwards, and of similar height to the above. A. Michauxii.A useful white sort, blooming at the same time as the last-named, but a little taller. A. obtusifolia.This purplish sort is not as pretty as some. It blooms in July and averages about a yard high. A. phytolaccoides.Similar to the above. A. polystachia.A taller white flowering sort, coming in during July, and averaging 36-42 ins. in height. A. quadrifolia.A useful sort with a scent. In colour it may be light purple, reddish, or nearly pure white. It blooms at the same time as the above, but rarely exceeds 15 ins. in height. A. rosea.This is a red sort coming in during July. Its height averages about 12 ins. A. rubra.Similar to A. rosea. A. syriaca.Another scented sort bearing purplish flowers in July. Its height varies from 2J-4J ft. A. tuberosa.An attractive tuberous species bearing distinctly good orange flowers during the summer and in September. Its height averages 18-24 ins. A. variegata. A purple-white variety not as attractive as the above opening in July, varying from 2 to 3 ft. in height.
Historical Notes. This has, in its day, been one of the most famous of florists flowers. Its history goes back into a period when the student of floricultural lore has an immense amount of material to draw upon. Without indulging in speculations as to whether it was known to the Romans, for its native home is the Alps, we can certainly trace it back to a startingpoint much too remote to allow us to follow up its progress with any degree of detail. Like many other subjects of the flower garden the Auricula has been known by other names. In old English it was commonly called Bears Ears, the French and Italian popular names are equivalent, i.e. Oreille dours and Orecchia d orso. Bauhin in 1569 named it Auricula ursi, from which it is evident that the other names are mere translations. It was so called chiefly from its leaves resembling that animals ear. Other botanical writers gave it different appellations. For instance, in Mathiolus (1579) it will be found illustrated and described under the name of Sanicle. Clusius (i6oi) gives several figures of it under the name of Auricula ursi, and devotes a whole chapter to it in the third book of his History of Rare Plants. John Gerarde in his Herbal (1597) devotes chapter cclxii. to an account”Of Beares eares, or mountaine Cowslips,”and there are six wood-cut illustrations of those that he writes about. A little later John Parkinson in his Paradisus (1629) heads his”Chapter XXXIIII. Auricula ursi Beares eares.”He figures eight varieties on a full-paged plate, giving short particulars of twentyone kinds followed by notes on the various names under which the flower had been described by other writers, the time of flowering, its habitat and virtues. John Rea in his Florilege (1665) writes an article in chap. xxxi. on”Auricula Ursi”which has a distinctly florists flavour about it. By this time new seedling varieties had evidently been raised and named. He mentions among those early growers”my very good friend, Mr. John Downham, a reverent Divine, and an industrious florist.”The clergy of this country, of France and Italy, were then as now eminent in their attachment to flowers. Mr Austen in Oxford, Mr John Good of Balliol College, William Whitmore, Esq., Mr Rickets of Hoxton, and Jacob Bobert of Oxford are all referred to in this connection, and several fantastical names had been bestowed upon the novelties which the raisers had obtained, a sample of this seventeenth-century floral nomenclature being the Fair Virgin, the Matron, the Alderman, Mercury, and a white one called the Virgins Milk. As time went on and the cultivation of the Auricula increased and was subjected to the severe rules of the standard set up by the florists, so the literature at home and abroad developed. It is a very voluminous subject and one must be a specialist to understand and absorb it. In the North of England and Midland Counties the culture of the Auricula among the weavers and artisans became quite a mania. The many shows and continued development of the flower can only be followed up by reference to the periodical horticultural press, which we must pass over as well as the names of the pioneers and champions of Auricula culture who were actively engaged in the work of improvement. On the Continent, especially in Flanders, the Auricula was much appreciated and widely grown by enthusiasts. Its properties were clearly defined, and there, as in England, the raisers of new seedlings vied with one another in producing flowers that came up to the standard demanded by the exhibitors. In one old treatise printed in Brussels in 1732 the names of the most famous growers of the day are given with their places of residence. The reader will not fail to notice that many of these places have since become notorious by virtue of the prominent part they played in the Great War, 1914-18. The Auriculas when in bloom were usually staged in pots on stands, called Theatres, and the writer of the treatise already referred to tells us that between 20th April and loth May is the period when the flowers can be seen at their best. The names of the foremost growers are given at Abbeville, Amiens, Cambrai, Chauny, Douai, Haarlem, Laon, Lille, Mondidier, Nesle,Noyon, Paris, St. Quentin, Soissons, Val St. Pierre, Ypres, and other places. Samuel Gilbert in his Florists Vade-Mecum (1682) gives descriptions of some of those varieties mentioned by Rea. He says under the heading of”AuriculasBears ears, flowers so much now in esteem (and well deserve it) for their diversity of colour and different faces, each adding a new grace to its kind.”There are many famous names of growers in cormection with this flower, but we have no space to mention them. The North of England and the Midlands furnished many of them for a long period of time. It is curious too how long-lived some of the favourites were, for Pages Champion was one that until quite recent times was well known by the fancier and had been grown for about a century. Some of the green-edged show varieties were very famous. There were Slaters Cheshire Hero, Taylors Victory, and many more beside. Maddock the great Quaker florist of Walworth, followed Thompson of Newcastle and Hudson of the same town with one of the first of the serious treatises on Auricula culture. This was in 1792. It is really wonderful to notice at that time the large number of florists there were who were occupied with cultivating this flower, for sale and exhibition. The plants were sold at prices varying from a shilling each to about three guineasthat being the price asked for Haddocks Invincible. The most famous raisers of that day were Buckley, Bury, Chorlton, Clegg, Foden, Gorton, Grimes, Harrison, Maddock, Metcalfe, Potts, Slater, Stretch, Taylor, etc. Collections of 300 plants named, two plants of each, were offered at