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IRISES (Nat Ord Iridaceae)

Gardening in Ireland, as in other countries, is largely controlled by climate and soil. Round the coast, especially in the South and West, the climate is comparatively mild, but against this there is the fact that in the extreme West strong winds from the Atlantic miHtate against satisfactory growth. On the other hand, even as far North as County Down, notably about Rostrevor, Castlewellan, and Newcastle, the climate is not unlike that of Fota in the extreme South, where, during the summer, the conditions are almost sub-tropical. In the vicinity of the Kenmare estuary and about Bantry the climate is milder than anywhere else in Ireland. In the midland counties, however, away from the influence of the sea, the climate is colder and more like that of many parts of Britain, but probably with a moister atmosphere. The soil, too, varies considerably, a great deal of it being calcareous. But in County Wicklow, where some of our most famous gardens are situated, there is little or no lime, and consequently Himalayan Rhododendrons and plants of the heath family generally flourish exceedingly well. This is true also of the milder parts of the North, and many similar plants grow there luxuriantly. It is noteworthy that at Howth, in County Dublin, Rhododendrons are a feature where sheltered from wind, the reason being the comparative mildness due to proximity to the sea, and the fact that the rock composing the hill of Howth is not of limestone ; elsewhere in the county lime is present in quantity. Thus it will be seen that no hard-andfast rules can be laid down for gardening in Ireland, and the idea, common in Britain, that the climate is uniformly mild is quite erroneous. The mild districts alluded to are as a general rule so favourable to the growth of half-hardy plants that a large number are from time to time planted in the open. Many flourish for years, and astonish visitors, who are accustomed to see the same plants in greenhouses ; yet the disastrous winter of 1916-17 killed more plants in Ireland than anywhere in the United Kingdom for that very reason. During the summer of 1917 a fairly complete census was taken of plants killed and injured during the previous exceptional winter. From that it is possible to gain a fair idea of those which can be depended on for permanent efEect.i Trees and Shrubs.Australia, Chile, the Himalayas, and Peru are some of the countries from which come many of the trees and shrubs characteristic of Irish gardens where the owners are enthusiastic. Australian shrubs are represented by GrevUlea rosmarinifolia and For lists see Irish Gardening, vol.xii. PP- 137 138, 139, 140, 141, and 150.Grevillea juniperina. The former is a handsome plant of dwarf spreading habit, leaves dark shining green, flowersred in clusters. The other is more erect, with narrow rigid leaves and yellow flowers. Drimys aromatica is an interesting plant also, suitable for the warmer districts. It forms a wellfurnished bush with highly aromatic leaves. From Chile we have the glorious Embothrium coocineum, which in some gardens is well over 30 ft. high, and bears masses of its beautiful scarlet flowers ; Eucryphia pinnatifoHa, a beautiful plant of the rose family with handsome white flowers, is evergreen, or nearly so, in mild localities, deciduous elsewhere ; Fuchsia macrostemma, with attractive bright green leaves and long slender scarlet flowers, makes an attractive wall plant ; while its varieties or hybrids coralUna, globosa, gracilis, and Riccartoni are among the most delightful of autumn-flowering shrubs. Fuchsia Riccartoni will form large handsome bushes where allowed room to develop. Abutilon vitifolium is hardy in many places, and makes a wonderful display with its large pale purplish-blue or sometimes white flowers. Tricuspidaria lanceolata, from the Island of ChUoe, Valdivia, etc., is a glorious shrub in many Irish gardens, bearing abundance of its large pendent scarlet flowers in early summer ; it is evergreen as a rule, but in cold districts may lose some of its dark green lance-shaped leaves. Podocarpus nubigena is rare, but should be noted as suitable for mild sheltered districts, as also is Lomatia ferruginea, a graceful shrub with fern-like leaves, green above, with a rusty tomentum on the under surface. From the Himalayas we have such Rhododendrons as arboreum, barbatum, cinnabarinum, Falconeri, fulgens, glaucum, triflorum, and the more tender R. grande and R. Edgeworthii, which flourish in the mild non-calcareous districts. It should be noted by intending planters that the large number of new species recently introduced from China bid fair to become beautiful additions to our Irish gardens. Abelia triflora is also noteworthy, forming immense bushes bearing sweet-scented flowers ; it was first introduced to the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. From New Zealand come the Pittosporums, handsome evergreenswith mostly inconspicuous flowers ; they are, however, distinct shrubs with ornamental leaves, and make beautiful specimens. The hardiest species are Buchanani, crassifolium, Colensoi, Ralphii, tenuifolium, and the Chinese sort, daphniphylloides. Pittosporum Tobira from Japan has the most showy flowers, which are white and fragrant. Olearias also from New Zealand are successful, the best species being avicenniaefolia, macrodonta nummularifolia, oleifolia, and stellulata, the latter being an Australian shrub. 0. Haastii is well known, and flowers freely in early autumn. Shrubby Veronicas do remarkably well in many places and are useful evergreens, many with beautiful flowers. The best sorts are Haastii, Lewisii, salicifolia, Traversii, sub-alpina, and rakaiensis among the larger growers, while dwarfer species include such as Armstrongii, Bidwillii, Canterburyensis, cupressoides decumbens, epacridea, Hectori, and pimeleoides. About Howth and Killiney, near Dublin, a dwarf blue Veronica allied to Autumn Glory has become naturalised on railway embankments, etc. It is very hardy, and flowers profusely in summer and autumn. The white-flowered Leptospermum scoparium makes huge specimens in some districts, and is probably the hardiest species ; but Chapmannii, Naimii, Nichohi, and pink and red flowered varieties, are beautiful in mild localities, and are worth trying wherever there is tolerable shelter. A noble New Zealand plant is Cordyline indivisa, which flourishes in many parts of Ireland. The huge leaves reach a length of 6 ft. or more, and are 6 ins. wide in the middle ; the veins are orange-coloured, and a large specimen is one of the finest sights to be seen in any Irish garden. Plagianthus betulinus and Plagianthus Lyalli are interesting New Zealanders, the former becoming a small tree in time with slender branches, clothed in summer with rounded lobed leaves ; the flowers are unimportant. The latter, now often called Gaya Lyalli, is a handsome shrub, flourishing nearly everywhere as a wall plant, but in many places as a bush in the open. It bears in early summer quantities of pure white flowers. In some gardens plantations of New Zealand flax are a feature, but probably the handsomest variety is Phormium tenax atropurpureum, with dark purplish greenleaves, and in summer immense inflorescences of reddish-yellow flowers. From Peru the two most notable shrubs in Irish gardens are Desfontainea spinosa and Fabiana imbricata, both handsome and attractive, the former with holly-like leaves and tubular reddish-yellow flowers, the latter with small heath-like leaves and white flowers. Carpentaria californica is a beautiful shrub, quite hardy, and most attractive when bearing its pure white flowers. Cold winds in winter and spring are its chief enemy, and a position should be chosen for it accordmgly. Ceanothuses do well as a rule, though some suffered severely Cxuring the winter and spring of 1916-17. The evergreen section is susceptible to harsh spring winds, but v/hen species such as Ceanothus rigidus and Ceanothus papillosus survived and continued to flourish in the vicinity of Dublin, it is obvious that the genus is suitable for planting in Ireland. The deciduous autumn -flowering kinds do well, and annually make a great show. Camellias are amongst the best evergreens for Irish gardens, and are ornamental at all times. Camellia japonica and its varieties, latifoha, Donckelaarii, etc., are far too seldom seen outside, considering their merits as flowering and foUage shrubs. Camellia cuspidata, with narrow longpointed leaves, makes a neat and attractive bush, which bears pure white flowers. Other shrubs and trees typical of Irish gardens are Coprosmas, Fagus antarcHca, Fagus betuloides, Fagus obliqua, Solatium crispum, Arbutus Menziesii ; and the common Strawberry Tree, Arbutus Unedo, Fendlera rupicola, EscaUonias, the tree heaths (Erica arborea, Erica lusitanica, etc.), and Bamboos flourish in many places. Californian and Mexican Pines are good in many localities, and several species of Eucalyptus are generally hardy. Herbaceous and Alpine Plants. All the best plants of the herbaceous border and the rock garden do well in Ireland with reasonable treatment, and in the vicinity of Dublin and elsewhere there are numerous herbaceous borders of great beauty. Scattered over the country there are many rock gardens rivalling in extent and number of plants the best to be found in Britain. In the deep soil of County Meath, although the climate is cold, herbaceous plants do exceptionally well, and assume a colour more intense and pure than in many places. It is difficult, however, to point to any herbaceous or Alpine plants peculiarly suited to Ireland as opposed to other parts of the kingdom. The majority of them grow vigorously when reasonably treated by skilled gardeners ; but in some cases winter damp has a disastrous effect, especially on Alpines from high altitudes, many Androsaces, Saxifrages, and other plants with hairy leaves perishing in winter unless planted in crevices or on a sharp slope where they can be protected from overhead moisture. Nevertheless, the moisture-loving species of Meconopsis, Primula, etc., do remarkably well, especially in the North, and should certainly be made a feature, since they are perfectly hardy as far as cold is concerned. In the comparatively cool climate of County Antrim magnificent groups and specimens are to be seen annually of such good plants as Primula bulleyana, as well as others, such as P. Beesiana, P. Littoniana, P. pulverulenta, P. sikkimensis, all of which attain larger dimensions than are usual elsewhere ; and the same is true of Meconopsis aculeata, and other species of this plant, such as M. integrifolia, M. Wallichii, etc. It is noteworthy, too, that these and similar plants seed profusely in the same locality. Generally speaking, the North seems well suited to the growth of plants from high altitudes. It is impossible within the limits of this article to mention a tithe of the plants successfully grown in Ireland, but any one beginning to furnish a garden will do well to commence with the hardier kinds first ; then with experience of the soil and climate of the district it is very probable many more tender plants may subsequently be added. For fruit growing many of the limestone districts are equal to Kent, except for Pears.J. W. B.

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IRISH SPURGE (Euphorbia hyberna)

Gardeners with very few exceptions fail absolutely to realise the importance and the need of iron or iron compounds for plant-food. This failure of recognition is because iron is what is called a secondary fertiliser ; in other words, it is not brought before gardeners nearly so much as are the usual fertilisers, nitrate of soda, sulphate of ammonia, superphosphate, and so on, which are in almost daily use during the summer months. But it has been neglected too long. Recent experiments have served to show that iron is a fertiliser of no small importance, and that while in large quantities it may prove detrimental or even poisonous to plant-life, in small quantities it produces remarkable results. Research has shown that iron is the primary need of all green leaves of plants. If there is not enough iron in the soil the colour of the leaves will be pale, and that of the flowers will be poor in extreme, while in some cases it will be of an entirely different nature. This is shown by the effect iron has on Hydrangeas. It will turn a pink or white hydrangea into blue, and this fact is, of course, frequently taken advantage of, the plants being watered with a weak solution of some iron salt occasionally as the flowers open and so they become blue. When iron is given to any kind of flowers their colour is deepened, and it is probable that if we knew more about its use, we should be able to change the colour of many of our flowers to the type colours or something near them. pi Experiments with Iron.Instead of dealing with Iron Compounds under separate headings as we have done under Potash and Soda, we propose to speak about them collectively. But before proceedingto do this we want first to mention the enormous value of experiments with iron. Unfortunately up to the time this article was written but few experiments of any practical value have been made. What is wanted is initiative in this direction, and initiative not only on the part of those in charge of Horticultural Colleges and Experimental Stations, but on the part of every man who calls himself a gardener. Such experiments should be commenced without delay, for they may take some years to complete, and efforts should be made to determine exactly the effects, good or bad, of various compounds of iron on the chief flowers and vegetables. There are some who may not like to take on this Herculean task ; they may not have facilities for doing the large amount of accurate testing, and making the enormous number of observations necessary to complete the work. But if they cannot do it all, they can at least do a small part of it, such as, for instance, the taking of one compound of iron and the testing of its effects. Such results as are obtained ought to be communicated not to the Scientific Press, which no practical gardener ever reads, but to the popular gardening papers which are usually sharp enough to realise the value of any article showing original work, and will pay often generously for exclusive publication rights. A point of importance when dealing with many iron salts is to keep them before use in tightly corked bottles or air-tight tins. Some of The experiments that have been made, such as they are, are of but Utile practical value, since they are never reported in language understood by gardeners who have not studied any Chemistry. The kind of information given may be useful enough to scientists, but it is Double Dutch to ordinary gardeners. Editor.them change very rapidly when exposed to the air, and lose much of their value, becoming in many instances very dangerous to plant life. As a general rule, soils of a very light almost white sandy colour, such as abound around Bournemouth, and, in fact, in many parts of the country where the tertiary sands prevail, need iron much more than strong dark soils, but there are some striking exceptions to this rule. Take, for instance, the strong Jurassic clays so abundant round Scarborough, or indeed so abundant right through the belt of Jurassic rocks which runs across England. These clays are often dark enough in colour, so is the soil, yet the bricks produced from them are yellow not red, a sure sign of the absence of iron. These soils need dressing with iron ; if they were, the crops produced would probably be much better both as regards quantity and qualityfor it has been shown that iron influences and increases quantity. Some Iron Compounds.If we treat iron compounds collectively instead of alphabetically, we may say that Sulphate of Iron (Ferrous Sulphate, FeSO.HaO), or Green Vitriol as it is called, is probably the most useful soluble salt. One ounce of this can be dissolved in 4 gallons of water, and the plants given a good soaking of this. It is useful for many crops and most flowers. In the winter, i oz. of this can be put on to each square yard and dug in. This chemical is an ingredient of very many lawn sands, as in large quantities it burns and completely kills weeds. Then there is iron itself. This is usually applied to the ground in the form of dust or filings, sometimes mixed with leather dust. Its use so far is in an experimental stage, as is also the use of iron oxide (Ferric 2 M Oxide, FcjOg). As regards the latter, soils in iron-stone districts often contain more than enough of it, and sometimes such soils are poor in product as they are”too irony.”Many things have been recommended as a dressing for such soils, the chief of which are gypsum and lime. Iron ammonia sulphate (or Ferrous Ammonium Sulphate, Fe SO4. (NHJ2SO4 . 6H2O) can be used similarly to green vitriol or sulphate of iron. It is a much more stable chemical and does not spoil itself so readily. Reference must also be made to other compounds of iron, namely, the phosphates, sulphides, chlorides, and nitrates of this metal. These chemicals, such as they are, may be said to be in an absolutely experimental stage up to the present, so there is plenty of work waiting for any one who cares to commence experiments with the compounds of iron.E. T. E. See also CHEMISTRy FOR GARDENERS.

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IRON WEED

Only two species of this genus are really worth growing, and both are hardy biennials. These, Isatis glauca and I. tinctoria (the last is the well-known Woad or Dyers Woad), both bear yellow flowers in July. The first grows only 2 ft. high, but the other often grows I yd. or more high. Both succeed in ordinary garden soil, and need very little care or attention, as they practically grow wild. Propagation by seeds sown in the usual way is not at aU difficult, and planting may be successfully carried out from October to March.

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ISOSOMA

To those who admire the formal style, the Italian garden makes a strong appeal. In carrying out the scheme in the United Kingdom the designer is faced by certain difficulties. The southern cUmate of Ital; makes it possible to grow many striking subjects which are too tender to flourish in our northern islands. Still, by a careful selection, it is possible to find many plants giving the needful beauty of form. In the typical Italian garden much attention is paid to making the grounds harmonise with the house. Even when dealing with the smallest villa each feature of the garden is considered in its relation to the residence, and the views which are obtained from the windows. Formal beds of rigid geometric design predominate, and these are always filled with the most gorgeous flowers. Sculpture, balustrades, sundials, and stone seats are freely employed. No Italian garden is complete without a terrace ; there is always a fountain too, and, quite likely, a cascade. Alleys of trees, preferably those with dark evergreen foliage, such as the cypress, are considered essential features. With such skill are the different parts of the garden arranged, that the formality never gives the impression of stiffness. In many old English houses more or less successful attempts at this kind of gardening have been carried out. Those who wish to introduce the style into their own grounds would find it worth while paying a visit to any such garden that may be within reach. In this way it is easy to grasp the adaptations needful for carrying out the scheme in Britain. The geometric beds are usually bordered with box, and the intersecting paths are often paved. In the beds themselves a constant succession of the most brilliant flowering plants must be maintained from the spring to the fall. Compact bushes of bay and other evergreens, often in tubs, must in England take the place of the orange and lemon trees of Italy. Agaves in pots should be freely used in the summer, or, as permanent subjects, yuccas will be found to be of great value. The British gardener misses the lawn in the Italiandesign, but its absence is in keeping with the style. On the sun-baked hillsides of the southern peninsula the formation of a grass lawn is almost impossible. In more recent times a charming effect has been secured in the spring and early summer by the annual sowing of grass seed, intermixed with the seeds of poppies, cornflowers, and similar subjects. The gay colours of the flowers stand up in fine contrast to the bright green of the grass, and a most stiiking effect is secured. Useful plants with striking foliage for the Italian garden include Acanthus, Aralia,hardy Bamboos, Cordyline, Gunnera, New Zealand Flax (Phormium), Tree Mallow (Lavatera), hardy Palm (Chamaerops), and Yuccas. Most of these subjects are fairly hardy in Britain. For the summer months more tender plants could be placed out of doors. The American Aloes (Agave), Bananas, Tree Ferns, and many of the Palms specially help in securing a striking Italian effect. S. L. B.

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IXIA LILY

These are pretty, hardy bulbs, with brightly coloured,star-shaped blooms . They have narrow. Gladiolus-like leaves,and bear their flowers in spring on slender spikes about 12-15 in height. Culture. Ixias like a warm, sunny border, with light, rich, sandy soil. They should be planted in September or October about 4 ins. deep. They make excellent pot plants. Five or six bulbs in a 4j-inch pot make a good display. They resent much heat, a winter temperature of from 40-50 degrees F. being sufficient. The flov,rers are much brighter in colour when the plants are grown”cool.”Species and Varieties.Ixia azurea.Azure blue, with maroon centre. I. Bridesmaid. White flowers, with crimson eye. /. Bucephalus. A rosy-carmine variety, good in pots. /. crateroides.A brilliant cerisescarlet variety, fine for cutting and for pot culture. I. Emperor of China.Yellow, with black eyes. /. Excelsior.A large – flowered variety, with crimson scarlet blooms. 1. Linaresii. Bright hlac-blue flowers. I. Queen of Roses.Rose. I. Snowflake.Pure white. /. viridiflora.This bears seagreen flowers, with a dark, almost black, centre ; it is quite unique, and is splendid in pots. /. White Swan. White, with indigo eye.J. J. & E. T. E.

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ILLECEBRUM (Nat Ord Illecebracese)

One species of this ( verticillatum) is known as Knot Grass, and is a hardy annual plant of weedy appearance and of no garden value. It must not be confused with the Knot Grass or Common Knot Grass described in our article on Weeds, botanically known as Polygonum aviculare which is in every way quite distinct.

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IXIAS (Nat Ord IridaceLE)

This is a small bulbous genus, allied to the Alstroemeria, on which a separate article is given, and is included because its bluish-lilac flowers are so useful for vase decoration. In all but the colder parts of the British Isles it is hardy in light, well-drained soil, in warm, sunny positions. Culture.The bulbs should be planted in the autumn about 2 ins. deep, and protected with some light substance during the winter. This should be removed in February or early March, according to the season. When the foliage has died down, the bulbs should be lifted and stored until planting time. Ixiolirions may be grown in pots if they can be wintered in a frost-proof frame, and brought into a cool greenhouse about the middle of February. Species and Varieties.The best are : Ixiolirion Pallasii.This bears pale lilac-blue flowers in umbels in early June. Height, i-i ft. I. tartaricum (more correctly 1. montanum tartaricum).This is similar to the above, but has smaller and more numerous flov/ers in the umbel. It flowers in the open in June, and grows 12-18 ins. in height. J. J. & E. T. E.

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INCARVILLEA (Nat Ord Bignoniaceae)

Although grown only to a limited extent, several species of this genus are well worth including in the herbaceous border as they are rather attractive hardy perennials, bearing Gloxinia-like flowers. They succeed in common, rich, light, well-drained soil in a sunny site, and may be propagated in the usual way by seeds sown in the spring and summer, or by division of the roots in the autumn or spring, at which times they may be successfully planted. A novel way of increasing ones stock is to slip off the young growths which form so freely just above the rootstock in the summer, and dibble these in as cuttings under a handlight in very sandy soil. The following is a selection of the best hardy sorts : Incarvillea brevipes.This is a good sort with purple flowers blooming from June to September, and growing about i ft. high. /. compacta.This is a pretty purple sort blooming from June to September, and averaging i-i ft. in height. I. Delavayi.This is the most popular and widely grown sort. Various forms of it bear rosy-carmine, deep purple, and lilac-purple flowers respectively. The blooming period extends from June to September, and the plants grow 1-2 ft. high. /. grandiflora.This sort frequently offered in nurserymens lists may be synonymous with I.Delavayi. It bears deep rose-red flowers from June to September, and averages 12 ins. in height./. Olgae (Syn. I. Koopmanni). This, though not very hardy, is a handsome sort, bearing large bright rose-pink flowers not unhke Pentstemons, from June to August, and growing 2I-4 ft. high. /. variabilis.This useful sort requires a warm spot. It bears attractive and somewhat vivid rosypurple flowers in July and August, and grows 12-18 ins. high.

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