H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Andromeda Tetragona - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Andromeda Tetragona Described.
Andromeda Tetragona - Syn. Cassiope Tetragona; Nat. Ord. Ericaceæ.
A dwarf hardy evergreen shrub, which comes to us from Lapland and North America; though a very beautiful subject for either rockwork or border, it is rarely seen. It is not one of the easiest plants to grow, which may, to some extent, account for its rarity. Still, when it can have its requirements, it not only thrives well, but its handsome form and flowers repay any extra trouble it may have given. In the culture of this, as of most plants of the order Ericaceæ, there is decidedly a right way and a wrong one, and if the species now under consideration has one or two special requirements it deserves them.
With me it never exceeds a height of 6in. or 7in., is much branched, and of a fine apple green colour; the flowers are small but very beautiful, bell-shaped, pendent, and springing from the leafy stems of the previous year's growth. The leaves are small as well as curious, both in form and arrangement, completely hiding their stems; their roundish grain-shaped forms are evenly arranged in four rows extending throughout the whole length of the branches (whence the name tetragona), giving them a square appearance resembling an ear of wheat, but much less stout; the little leaves, too, are frosted somewhat in the way of many of the saxifrages. It is next to impossible to describe this pretty shrub; fortunately, the cut will convey a proper idea at a glance. All who possess more select collections of hardy plants and shrubs should not fail to include this; it is fit for any collection of fifty choice species.
I struggled long before finding out the right treatment, as presumably I now have, yet it is very simple, in fact, only such as many other plants should have; but, unlike them, A. tetragona will take no alternative; it must have partial shade, sandy peat or leaf soil, and be planted in a moist or semi-bog situation. On the raised parts of rockwork it became burnt up; planted in loam, though light, it was dormant as a stone; in pots, it withered at the tips; but, with the above treatment, I have flowers and numerous branchlets. Many little schemes may be improvised for the accommodation of this and similar subjects. Something of the bog character would appear to be the difficulty here; a miniature one may be made in less than half an hour. Next the walk dig a hole 18in. all ways, fill in with sandy peat, make it firm; so form the surface of the walk that the water from it will eddy or turn in. In a week it will have settled; do not fill it up, but leave it dished and put in the plant. Gentians, pyrolas, calthas, and even the bog pimpernel I have long grown so.
A. tetragona can be propagated by division of the roots, but such division should not be attempted with other than a perfectly healthy plant. It should be done in spring, just as it begins to push, which may be readily seen by the bright green tips of the branchlets; and it is desirable, when replanting, to put the parts a little deeper, so as to cover the dead but persistent leaves about the bottoms of the stems which occur on the parts four or more years old. After a year, when so planted, I have found good roots emitted from these parts, and, doubtless, such deeper planting will, in some way, meet its requirements, as in this respect they are provided for in its habitats by the annual and heavy fall of leaves from other trees which shade it.
Flowering period, April and May.
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