GARDEN AND FOREST
Volume 1, Number 1
NEW YORK, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 1888.
A Half-hardy Begonia.—When botanizing last September upon the Cordilleras of North Mexico some two hundred miles south of the United States Boundary, I found growing in black mould of shaded ledges—even in the thin humus of mossy rocks—at an elevation of 7,000 to 8,000 feet, a plant of striking beauty, which Mr. Sereno Watson identifies as Begonia gracilis, HBK., var. Martiana, A. DC. From a small tuberous root it sends up to a height of one to two feet a single crimson-tinted stem, which terminates in a long raceme of scarlet flowers, large for the genus and long enduring. The plant is still further embellished by clusters of Scarlet gemmæ in the axils of its leaves. Mr. Watson writes: “It was in cultivation fifty years and more ago, but has probably been long ago lost. It appears to be the most northern species of the genus, and should be the most hardy.” Certainly the earth freezes and snows fall in the high region, where it is at home.
Northern Limit of the Dahlia.—In the same district, and at the same elevation, I met with a purple flowered variety of Dahlia coccinea, Cav. It was growing in patches under oaks and pines in thin dry soil of summits of hills. In such exposed situations the roots must be subjected to some frost, as much certainly as under a light covering of leaves in a northern garden. The Dahlia has not before been reported, as I believe, from a latitude nearly so high.
Ceanothus is a North American genus, represented in the Eastern States by New Jersey Tea, and Red Root (C. Americanus and C. ovalus), and in the West and South-west by some thirty additional species. Several of these Pacific Coast species are quite handsome and well worthy of cultivation where they will thrive. Some of the more interesting of them are figured in different volumes of the Botanical Magazine, from plants grown at Kew, and I believe that the genus is held in considerable repute by French gardeners.
In a collection of plants made in Southern Oregon, last spring, by Mr. Thomas Howell, several specimens of Ceanothus occur which are pretty clearly hybrids between C. cuneatus and C. prostratus, two common species of the region. Some have the spreading habit of the latter, their flowers are of the bright blue color characteristic of that species, and borne on slender blue pedicels, in an umbel-like cluster. But while many of their leaves have the abrupt three-toothed apex of C. prostratus, all gradations can be found from this form to the spatulate, toothless leaves of C. cuneatus. Other specimens have the more rigid habit of the latter species, and their flowers are white or nearly so, on shorter pale pedicels, in usually smaller and denser clusters. On these plants the leaves are commonly those of C. cuneatus, but they pass into the truncated and toothed form proper to C. prostratus.
According to Focke (Pflanzenmischlinge, 1881, p. 99), the French cross one or more of the blue-flowered Pacific Coast species on the hardier New Jersey Tea, a practice that may perhaps be worthy of trial by American gardeners. Have any of the readers of Garden And Forest ever met with spontaneous hybrids?