Edward Augustus Bowles (1865 – 1954)
The gardens at Myddelton House in winter
Myddleton House and Garden, Bulls Cross, Enfield, Middlesex
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Edward Augustus Bowles was truly a man of many talents; he was renowned as an entomologist but his reputation today lies mostly upon his career as a horticulturist and plant hunter. He searched for plants mostly in Europe and North Africa, was a good friend of Reginald Farrer with whom he often traveled on his gathering forays, and helped to introduce innumerable new species and cultivars to British gardening; there are over 40 plants listed today in the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Plant Finder’ that are named after him. He was also an expert painter.
He gardened at Myddelton House, Bulls Cross, Enfield, Middlesex, England (open to the public) carrying on the work begun by his father. The book My Garden in Spring is, indeed, dedicated to his father in typical humorous fashion: “To my father Henry C. B. Bowles who has so kindly and patiently allowed to experiment with his garden for the last twenty-five years”.
He was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society for over 50 years, including some 28 years as vice-president, and received its Victoria Medal of Honour in 1916. His interest in gardening was all-inclusive but he came to be thought of as the ultimate authority on the small bulbs such as Daffodils, crocus and snowdrops etc., again, many of these being named for, or introduced by him; references to him in the gardening literature of the time are extensive, particularly regarding these tiny horticultural jewels.
He wrote a number of books, the most notable being My Garden in Spring, My Garden in Summer and My Garden in Autumn and Winter. Reading the thoughts of eminent practitioners of any craft can always be instructive but Bowles was also an accomplished writer, making the task of learning from his expertise a pleasurable activity. (Two of them can be downloaded from archive.org).
I’ve formatted 5 chapters from his My Garden in Spring and will post them here as 5 separate posts. Keep in mind that many of the Latin names have since been superseded but you should be able to do an internet search with them to find the newer names for which the ones in his books should be listed as synonyms.
The first post, Early Irises, has considerable information on Iris unguicularis, a plant for which I have been searching, without success, for some years – if you can get your hands on one it will present you with blooms in the middle of winter, at least here in coastal British Columbia. Bowles gives lots of valuable information on its culture.
Read on then to encounter the prose of E. A. Bowles and to learn something about the smaller wonders of the horticultural world that are, now in early February, beginning to stir, soon to christen the gardening year with their brave and lovely flowers.
My Garden in Spring (c. 1915)
E. A. Bowles (1865 – 1954)
Suppose a wicked uncle who wished to check your gardening zeal left you pots of money on condition you grew only one species of plants: what would you choose? I should settle on Iris unguicularis, as in summer one could get whiffs of other folks’ roses and lilies and all the dull season enjoy the flowers of this beautiful Iris. It was some twenty-four years ago I first saw it in the gardens at La Mortola. Sir Thomas Hanbury parted its forelock of long leaves and displayed a mass of lilac blossoms, and then and there I vowed I must grow it, and grow it well too.
I had some difficulty in finding out where to get it, and I suppose it was not so well known then as now, as I could hear of no one among my gardening neighbours who could flower it. I was fortunate in getting hold of a good variety for my first plant, and in trying to imitate its warm home at La Mortola, I planted it against the front wall of a peach-house, where a southern exposure and warmth from the water-pipes brought it into flower within a year of planting, and set me to work to get other forms and find further suitable sites for them. So many people complain of its shyness of flowering that I feel bound to give my experiences of it rather fully, hoping to help others thereby. I soon found that the varietal forms in commerce had very well-marked idiosyncrasies, not only as to outward appearance but in period and freedom of flowering. The paler flowered forms are those that flower earliest and most surely in autumn. That known as marginata is generally the first, and the white one and the variety lilacina often come in a dead heat for second place. Pale colouring is correlated with early flowering, it seems, and the varietal name lilacina is fully justified, both it and marginata bearing flowers of a softer and bluer shade than any others; marginata has a narrow but regular white edge to the falls, not wide or distinct enough to add to the beauty of the blossom, but sufficient to warrant the use of the name, and both forms have wider leaves than the type, and, what is better, larger flowers. I strongly advise anyone wishing for autumn and early winter flowers to plant these two forms along with the white one. Half a dozen good plants of each ought to provide buds for picking in constant succession through November, December, and in open weather in January. It is curious that the white form should flower with the pale lilac ones, as in appearance it is evidently an albino of the type, having leaves of medium width and flowers rather diminished in size, as is so often the case with an albino form.
I once heard of a larger, white form, but diligent inquiry and an ever-open eye have failed to discover it. I believe all the white flowered plants in cultivation in Britain are divisions from a single plant found about thirty-five years ago by Mr. Edwyn Arkwright when riding through the then wild scrub on the hillside near Algiers, but seedlings raised from it ought to show variation, and careful selection should give us larger forms. I am watching a family of yearling babes, and hoping the leaves are increasing in width sufficiently to promise good results.
What I imagine must be the type form, because it is the commonest in cultivation, has medium-sized flowers of a distinctly warm lilac: perhaps it is not going too far to say they are flushed with rose, after the manner of the compilers of catalogues. I never expect them to flower until New Year’s Day has come and gone, so in making a planting for picking purposes it will save time and trouble by keeping the early flowering sorts together, for except during spells of settled mild weather, which Heaven knows are as rare as spare moments, it is best to pick the buds a day before they open, and at that time they are not very conspicuous, as the under sides of the falls are then of a pale, dingy buff shade, slightly tinged with greyish lilac at their edges, and are very hard to distinguish from browned tips of old leaves. In consequence of this it is often necessary, not only to examine the clumps at close quarters, but to lift the longer leaves with one’s hand, and all that means stooping, and a gardener’s back never requires more of that sort of physical drill than is absolutely necessary, neither is it good for his temper to hunt over clumps of late flowering forms before the reward for so doing is due.
This plan of inconspicuous colouring for unexpanded buds and closed flowers has been adopted by many winter-flowering plants. It would seem they are cryptically coloured for the purpose of avoiding observation and consequent destruction by enemies. Thus many of the early lilac Crocuses have the outer surface of the exterior segments coloured buff, as in Crocus Imperati and C. etruscus, or of a neutral grey shade, as in C. Tomasinianus, while others are striped or freckled with browns and purples in a manner that renders them very hard to see among their own leaves or grass in the case of stripes, or against bare ground on a dull day or when closed for the night if suffused externally. A spell of sunshine changes this in a few minutes, and the glowing interior of the flower shows up from afar, and is ready for fertilisation by any insect visitor which may be rendered active and hungry by the same bright spell. I have been unable to discover what are the enemies of such flowers in their own homes, but judging from the evil habits of that vulgar little pest the sparrow, one is inclined to fancy they may be birds of sorts. But for the sake of those to whose charitable sentimentality all members of the avian fauna are the ” dear little birds,” repaying winter doles of crumbs with spring carols, I will offer a scapegoat in the form of some beetle of the family of Cantharidae such as our British Oil Beetle, Meloe Proscarabaeus, to which a fresh young flower is a toothsome breakfast, for I notice that those who can overlook anything in a bird ” a dear little bird” of course, ostriches and eagles being outside their spheres of experience are ever ready to denounce or bring about the destruction of nasty creeping things. For myself, I am too light a sleeper to appreciate the cheeping of newly-awakened sparrows in the Wistaria round my window, and too fond of its flowers to forgive their chewing the swelling bloombuds.
I think the longest word in the Greek Lexicon was invented for use in a maledictory imprecation against sparrows. One feels that to pronounce it rapidly, or to write it clearly on lintel and sidepost, ought to kill them off in flocks. Try it; it is quite simple, only this: [Greek lettering], which being translated is ” early-prowling base-informing sad-litigious plaguey ways,” almost as beautiful in its hyphened English as in the original Greek.
The success of I. unguicularis as a cut flower depends so much on careful picking, and experience has taught me how to grapple with so many sources of difficulty and injury, that details are perhaps worth recording. The first thing to note is that this Iris, after the fashion of the Crocus and Colchicum, produces no flower stem above-ground at flowering time, a long perianth tube doing duty for it until the seedpod is raised up on the true stem just before the seeds are ripe. A careful examination will show that this Iris has a short scape among the bases of the leaves, and that in healthy specimens it is about half an inch in length and bears three buds at its apex. Scape and buds are wrapped by one or two tough green spathes, and each separate bud has two more spathes of its own, of thinner texture and closely wrapped round the fragile perianth tube. The central bud of these three is always first to lengthen and flower, and generally is ready for picking before the other two show above the tough outer spathes. Therefore to avoid picking all three buds at once, and so wasting the two undeveloped ones, it is necessary to pull away the two outermost tough spathes a little, until you are sure you are holding only the two belonging to the bud ready to be gathered. Then a sharp pull will generally bring it away, leaving the other two buds to push up a week or ten days later. They sometimes do this simultaneously, and as it is not difficult to see whether the central bloom has been already gathered, one can then allow oneself the luxury of picking the whole stiff bunch of spathes and buds.
If the nights are mild it is as well to leave the buds on the plant until the perianth tube has lengthened sufficiently to stand above the surrounding spathes. But although the perianth segments when exposed just above the spathes will safely stand several degrees of frost, I find once the perianth tube is out in the world and un-protected, a few degrees of frost will render it transparent and limp, burst its cell walls in fact, and ruin that blossom’s future.
So in doubtful weather I prefer to pull the buds when the coloured parts of the flower appear just above the spathes. I find it best to place them at once in water and to immerse them up to their necks. Then they lengthen rapidly, and one by one burst open and are ready to transfer to the flower vases. If placed directly after picking in water that only reaches an inch or so up their length, they are rather inclined to flag and fall over, and even to get too much exhausted of sap to open properly. Their own foliage is rather too coarse to arrange with them, so I often use the leaves of young plants of Libertia formosa, which are of the same shade of green but neater than the Iris leaves. They look best arranged in the old-fashioned tall champagne glasses with Libertia leaves, but when they are plentiful I like to fill a bowl with some short sprigs of Cypress greenery and spear the Irises into it.
The deepest coloured variety is known as speciosa, and has narrow leaves and throws its blossoms up well above them, and so is much more showy in the garden than the paler forms, whose broad, arching leaves often hide the flowers a good deal. Also it seldom flowers before February, so that the blossoms can generally open and escape injury better than those of the earlier forms. Later still comes the variety now known as angustifolia, which has also masqueraded under the names of Elizabethae, cretensis, and latterly agrostifolia. This last would be a good name for it, as its leaves are very narrow and grassy, but it is possibly a result of copying angustifolia from some indistinct handwriting or worn-out label, as it has no authority that I know of beyond a catalogue or two and labels at shows. Anyway, this narrow-leaved form is a good thing, and when established it flowers very freely, and is a suitable subject for a warm nook in the rock garden or at the foot of a pedestal or stone in a southern exposure. I grow it in both such situations, and during March and April the clumps frequently open half a dozen or so of their showy flowers at one time. They stand up well among the leaves, and have a dainty, butterfly expression about them as the standards arch outward at a pleasant angle. They vary somewhat in the amount of white markings on the fall, but all of them have far more white than other forms of Iris unguicularis, some so much that the falls appear to have a white centre edged with a bluish lilac band. The texture of the flowers is rather firmer and crisper than in the larger varieties, and I find they last quite two or three days longer, either when picked or when left in the open. These endearing qualities make them well worth growing.
I grow one other form, but I do not care much for it. I got it first from Herr Sprenger of Naples as Iris unguicularis, var. pontica, and lately from Holland as I. lazica. It has wide leaves, which somewhat resemble those of Iris foetidissima, and the flowers are of a rather starry, poor form, and a washy, pinkish lilac, the falls being mottled with a yellow brown much too freely to look clean and fresh. It has some rather interesting botanical characters, such as a trigonous pedicel and markedly keeled spathe, but though I should be sorry to lose the variety I do not want any more plants of it.
The growth of the pollen tube and its passage down the style must be as remarkable and rapid in these Irises as in any known flower. If you examine the distance it has to go from the stigma down to the ovary and consider the very short duration of the blossom you will readily see what I mean. It is quite worth while dissecting a full-blown blossom and extracting the slender style from out of the perianth tube to get an idea of the delicacy and wonder of its mechanism. As great length of style is such a marked character of this Iris it is a pity that Desfontaine’s name stylosa cannot be maintained for it, but as Poiret’s Voyage en Barbarie, in which the first description of it occurs, was published in 1789, his name of unguicularis must stand by the law of priority, for the other was not published until nine years later.
In most gardens the best position for planting a good row of this useful plant is along the south front of a greenhouse. It frequently happens that there is such a low space of wall quite unutilised where a narrow border can easily be made. I believe in planting them just after their flowering season, that is to say as soon as they can be procured in late April or May; and I like to jam them up against the foot of the wall, pressing the root- stock right against it, as I believe they will flower much sooner if they cannot spread out on both sides.
I have seen good results obtained by raising their bed a few inches and placing a shallow board along the front of it to hold up the soil, and I should strongly advise this plan in moist or heavy soils. If there are hot-water pipes on the other side of the wall against which they are planted so much the better, you will be all the more sure to get flowers in the winter months. But look carefully to the guttering that almost always forms a roof over their heads in such positions, as a leak into the heart of a clump will soon destroy it. Another trouble may arise from the melting of snow on the glass of a heated house from the warmth within, and the consequent drip and formation of icicles on the young leaves. It is worth while to keep a piece of board to lay over them during such times of trouble. Once planted they need but little care. It is wise to pull away in Spring any of their leaves that have died, to let air and sunlight in to ripen the rootstock. In autumn any dead leaves that have blown into their hearts are best removed before they rot, and a careful search should be made from time to time for slugs and snails, which are very fond of the tender, juicy buds. By carefully bending the leaves forward from the wall and peering down among the crowns these evil gasteropods may generally be discovered; but the cater- pillars of the Yellow Underwing and Angleshades Moths are more troublesome to catch. The only successful method is to go out on a mild evening with an acetylene bicycle lamp, which will show up the marauders in their true colours.
Patience seems to be the only manure these Irises need, poor soil inducing flowering instead of production of leaf, and the older a clump grows the better it flowers, so long as it does not raise itself too much out of the ground to be able to get nourishment; but I have some old clumps that by pressing their rhizomes against the wall have climbed up it some six or seven inches; these aspiring individuals flower well, and I respect their ambitious habit so long as the leaves look strong and vigorous and I receive my rent in flowers.
Last winter we picked about fifty buds a week from the time the frosts had killed off the Asters and outdoor Chrysanthemums until March brought us sufficient Daffodils to keep the dinner-table supplied. As a producer of ver perpetuum during the dullest months of the year I feel sure no outdoor plant can beat Iris unguicularis.
Next in order as bringers in of Spring among the Irises come the members of that puzzling little group of bulbous-rooted ones known as the reticulata section, from the curiously beautiful coat that covers their corms. This tunic is well worth examining with a good lens. To the naked eye it looks as if composed of parallel strands of a towlike substance, but if pulled away from the corm the strands stretch away from each other, and show lesser strands branching out from them and uniting the stronger ones, so that then it becomes a veritable network. So many local forms and varieties exist in this section that their systematic arrangement is not easy, and certain of them get chivied about as varieties of first one species, then of another, according to various authors’ views, and this is the case with an old favourite of mine. I used to call it Iris reticulata, var. sophenensis, but Mr. Dykes, in his sumptuous new monograph of the genus, points out that it resembles I. histrioides in its manner of increase, viz. by a host of tiny cormlets surrounding the base of the parent corm, and in its stout leaves and hasty way of bursting into flower soon after the leaves and spathes have pierced through the ground, so as I. histrioides, var. sophenensis, it must now be known.
If it flowered at Midsummer we should either fail to notice it or turn up our rose and lily-surfeited noses at its humble charms, but in the darkest days of the year, in old December or young January, it is a joyous sight. Quite unintentionally it found its way into the cold frames sacred to my rarer Crocuses, and at once showed me plainly that it liked the treatment given to its neighbours, by multiplying as rapidly as the rabbits the small girl who was slow at sums envied so much.
The small spawnlike corms are but feebly attached to the large central one, and fall off so easily that it is hard to lift the colony intact, and once off they are hard to collect, many of them being about the same size and dingy colour as the pupal cocoons of the common black ant, known as ants’ eggs to bird-fanciers and gamekeepers. These soon get dispersed in the dry soil, and apparently every one grows into a fair-sized corm with babes of its own before next lifting-time. In the open border they are rather more delicate, and require a very warm, well- drained corner and frequent lifting. They are worth some trouble, for the sturdy little flowers are prettily shaded with plum-purples and deep blues, and last fresh and fair for several days, but they open so close to the ground that they are not suitable for picking, though a patch of a dozen or so is worth looking at in the rock garden at that flowerless time of year. The typical form of I. histrioides varies a good deal in size and in period of flowering, so that a clump of it, unless formed of offsets from one form, will send up a flower or two at a time for some weeks. In its best forms it is very lovely, and surprisingly large and blue to be smiling at one from the surface of the cold, wet soil so early in the year.
The best form I have came from Messrs. Van Tubergen, who seem to have been fortunate in receiving this superior variety from their collector, for they allow it to appear in their list without any additional varietal name, but I have seen it labelled “var. major” when shown by others.
It is not only larger than the old form, but also earlier and of a better substance, and as 4s. will purchase a dozen, no garden should be without a good clump of it. The variety has never increased with me as lavishly as little sophenensis does, but then I have not tried it in the cold frame which is the main source of my compound interest harvest of the ants’ eggs produced by sophenensis.
I do not believe it would prove so prolific as that generous-minded midget however it were treated, for I sent a few corms of sophenensis to a friend who gardens in Cheshire, and she wrote to tell me that now after three years they have grown to the number of 168. Yet the last time I saw it shown in flower at Vincent Square its proud owner named 3s. 6d. as the price of its departure into other hands.
There are other early Irises, but they are not found here, for I have been obliged to renounce as expensive luxuries needing annual renewal such delights as I. histrio and I. Vartanii. They insist on producing long and tender leaves before they flower, and winds and frost soon take the tucker out of them, and, limp and browned, they cannot collect the necessary carbon dioxide to feed the plant, and no fat corm results for next season. Wise old histrioides, to be contented with those stumpy, stiff leaves until warmer days advise their lengthening! I. alata ought to, and sometimes does, illuminate this dark spell, but though it lives in sunny rock-nooks here it is only after exceptionally grilling summers that it plucks up heart to flower outside. It used to do fairly well in the Crocus frame, but has been crowded out for my more beloved children.
Before the last lag-behind forms of I. histrioides have faded, I look to some precocious seedling forms of I. reticulata. These were surprise gifts to me from my garden, spontaneous seedlings, unbirthday presents, as the Red Queen called such pleasant windfalls. I believe their mother was the dwarf, early plum-red form known as Krelagei, which is a great seeder here, but, as so often happens with plants that seed freely, after producing well-filled pods it feels it has done its duty, and is content to die. Except for its precocity in flowering, and its motherliness, I do not greatly care for this variety, but as a parent I advise all to grow it until they have a generation of its babes from which to select better forms.
Experiments carried out by Mr. Dykes and others show that the purple red colouring of Krelagei appears in self-fertilised seedlings of the deep blue form known in gardens as the typical reticulata. This dark blue is furthermore the rarest colour form in its native home, and here without artificial fertilisation I have never seen it set seed. The red forms, on the contrary, bear pods in most seasons when left to natural causes for pollination. If their seeds only reproduced the squat, liver-coloured charms of their dowdy mother they would not be worth sowing. But among the gifts of the gods that appeared round my dead-and-gone Krelagei’s label, then only its tombstone, first came a deep, indigo-blue youngster with only a slight improvement in stature, not a first-class plant, but as early as ever its mother was, then came one of the greatest surprises and joys of this garden, a posthumous son and heir to a once-cherished treasure, I. reticulata, var. cyanea. This variety cyanea is now nothing more than a mysterious memory. Mr. Dykes thinks it may be identical with the form now known as Melusine. Both have ” died on me ” here, alas: but as I recall them to mind, I would gladly get cyanea again, but do not wish for Melusine. Mr. Dykes in the great monograph, says of it, ” In the best examples the colour is an approach to a light Cambridge blue.” If my memory is not too much affected by the weakness which makes all long-past summers warm and sunny, all childish haunts vast and magnificent, and in a fuller development turns all passably good-looking grandmothers into noted beauties of their day my cyanea was fit to compare with a turquoise, and taller than all the Melusines I see now. Its clear blue colouring and length of perianth tube have passed into my joy of a seedling, and so far, it has proved of good constitution, and has steadily increased. Please note that I have said ” so far,” for here I must make a confession. I rather pride myself on being free from superstitions about most things, and have even lectured at local debating societies on the inconsistency of superstitious fears with a Christian belief. But I believe most people, though able to make light of certain superstitions, and perhaps ready to walk under ladders, or dine comfortably though one of thirteen, yet cannot quite shake off some idea, probably an ingrained result of nursery teaching, that it is just as well to avoid giving and receiving scissors, or cutting one’s nails on a Friday. A curious chain of experiences in the former case, and a haunting doggerel rhyme in the latter, make me weak about these. My greatest weakness of all, however, takes the form of an uncomfortable feeling, that the unseen powers lie in wait with trouble or failure for him who boasts of continued success, just as surely as the clerk of the weather does with a sudden shower, for those who venture afield without mackintosh or umbrella.
At no time am I more timid of these avenging fates than when openly rejoicing in some garden success, and more especially so in print. So often has dire calamity, sudden death, or uprooting by storm, followed the publication of a photograph and exultant note describing one of my best specimens, not only with Clematis, and Mezereon, and such “here today and gone tomorrow” subjects, but with many steady-going old plants, that I feel an uncanny dread creeping over me, that unless I touch wood in some way to disarm the overlooking witch and blind the Evil Eye, I had better not describe my successes. Now, as I do not wish for a blasted heath, or a landscape like that around the chemical works at Stratford, in place of my crowded old garden, and as I always use a stylograph pen made of vulcanite, and won’t go back to a wooden penholder, my epistolary method of touching wood must consist of an assumed distrust in the future prosperity of my treasures, and so readers will please help me by understanding that the “so fars” and “apparently establisheds” I must sprinkle among my descriptions of flourishing colonies of healthy plants are amulets designed to protect my darlings from the maw of the mollusc and the blasting of the bacillus.
So far, then, my turquoise treasure which I call Cantab has thriven, and besides two clumps here, I have been able to send it out a little way into the world, by sharing its offsets with a few friends whose openly expressed raptures have convinced me it would find a good home and loving care in their gardens.
I think it is one of the loveliest of Spring flowers, and do not believe it is only that sort of paternal pride vented in one’s own seedling, that leads me to believe it is of the colour of a Delphinium Belladonna, and that the bee guide on the fall is just the right shade of apricot-orange to attract any flying insect and please an artistic eye with its colour contrast, producing much the same effect that you get in the deeper colouring of Linaria alpina.
The same crop of seedlings gave me a tall red-purple form, and yet one more that, so far as I can see, is identical with that sometimes sold as I. reticulata major. These two last flower in the order in which I have placed them, and are both somewhat earlier than the old garden form, which is too well known to need my praise. It is generally recommended that they should be lifted frequently, and just after the leaves have died down, to be stored in dry sand till September. But I found this plan unsatisfactory when I tried it, and prefer to replant them just as they are going out of flower. The ground is generally moist enough then to prevent their flagging, and the corms grow larger and stronger for their shift to fresh soil, and also at that time of year one can see just the sort of place and neighbours that will suit them at flowering time better than when the autumn plants are in full swing. If I have missed this golden opportunity I have sometimes lifted them in early August, but have then replanted them within an hour or so. They are among the plants that deteriorate rapidly when out of the ground, so when buying new ones it is as well to get them as early as possible after the bulb lists appear. Although they bloom with the Daffodils, some of the Juno Irises deserve a place among the early ones. They are queer creatures with folded leaves arranged in two ranks, bulbs that produce long storage roots from their base, which it is very difficult to avoid breaking off in planting, and yet most essential to the plant’s well-being that they should remain intact, and again they have standards that refuse to stand, but either hang downwards or sprawl out horizontally. I can think of no better word to express such unstandardly conduct unless I draw upon the forceful legends on continental railway carriage windows, and anglicise them into sporgering and hinauslehning. They appear to me to prefer a stiff bit of soil to root into, but to have their bulbous body in something lighter, and unless I fuss over them they do not grow very vigorously. My favourite is the variety of I. persica whose right name is stenophylla, but which often appears as Heldreichii. The combination of its lavender-blue groundwork with the white and deep amethyst purple of the tips of the falls is so lovely, that I have not grudged renewing my little stock when bad seasons have brought it low. I. Sindjarensis is more reliable but not so lovely, but its hybrid Sind-pur Amethyst is a gem quite worth the trouble of constant lifting and rebedding in choice soil, even sand and leaf of the best the garden can produce.
The most satisfactory here, and capable of being left alone for several seasons, are the forms of I. orchioides and the closely-allied I. bucharica. The old yellow form of orchioides is really the best, the white one having a lingering taint of the hue of jealousy too much in evidence, and the so-called coerulea form is a very washy affair and no bluer than a basin of starch, but I rather like sulfurea, its name being justified by its colouring. ‘ All are suitable for a sunny slope in the rock garden, but if you have room for only one, choose I. bucharica. It is a charming plant with its tier upon tier of paired, gracefully arching leaves, like some design for free-hand drawing, and its creamy-white flowers with bright yellow falls, and in my garden it is the strongest and tallest of the Junos, and I think must rank as the last of the earlies.
Edward Augustus Bowles