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Aralia Sieboldi - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Aralia Sieboldi - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Aralia Sieboldi Described.

Aralia Sieboldi - Siebold's Aralia; Nat. Ord. Araliaceæ.

The present subject - beautiful, hardy, and evergreen—is a species of recent introduction; still, it has already become well known and distributed, so much so that it scarcely needs description; but there are facts in reference to it which would seem to be less known. It is seldom seen in the open garden, and many amateurs, who otherwise are well acquainted with it, when they see it fresh and glossy in the open garden in the earliest months of the year, ask, "Is it really hardy?" Not only is such the case, but the foliage, and especially the deep green colour, are rarely so fine when the specimens have indoor treatment, and, on this account, the shrub is eminently suitable for notice here.

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Aralia Sieboldi

The order Araliaceæ is nearly related to Umbelliferæ, from which fact an idea may be had of the kind and arrangement of the flowers. Many of the genera of the order Araliaceæ are little known; perhaps the genus Hedera (ivy) is the only one that is popular, and it so happens to immediately follow the genus Aralia. To remember this will further assist in gleaning an idea of the form of blossom, as that of ivy is well known. Aralia Sieboldi, however, seldom flowers in this climate, either in or out of doors. When it does, the white flowers are not of much value; they are small, like ivy blossom in form, but more spread in the arrangement. There are five sepals, five petals, five styles, and five cells in the berries. The flowers are produced on specimens 2ft. to 5ft. high during winter, when favourable. The leaves, when well grown, are the main feature of the shrub, and are 12in. or more across. This size is not usual, but a leaf now before me, and taken from an outside specimen, measures over a foot, with a stout round stalk, 13in. long; the form of leaf is fan-shaped, having generally seven lobes, each supported by a strong mid-rib; the lobes are formed by divisions rather more than half the diameter of the leaf; they are slightly distant, broadly lance-shaped, waved at the edges, toothed near the ends, the teeth being somewhat spiny; the substance is very stout and leather-like to the touch; the upper surface is a dark shining bronzy-green, beautifully netted or veined; the under surface is a pale green, and richly ornamented by the risen mid-ribs and nerves of the whole leaf; the leaf-stalks are thick, round, bending downwards, and 6in. to 18in. long, springing from the half woody stem.

The habit of the shrub is bushy, somewhat spreading, causing the specimens to have a fine effect from their roundness, the leaf arrangement also being perfect. Without doubt this is one of the most distinct and charming evergreens for the ornamental garden, sub-tropical in appearance, and only inferior to palms as regards size; it is effective anywhere. It need not be stated that as a vase or table decoration it ranks with the best for effect and service, as it is already well-known as such. In planting this subject outside, young but well-rooted examples should be selected and gradually hardened off. At the latter end of May they should be turned out of the pots into a rich but sandy loam. The position should be sunny, and sheltered from the north. Some have advised that it should be grown under trees, but I have proved that when so treated the less ripened foliage has suffered with frost, whilst the specimens fully exposed to the sun have not suffered in the least; they would droop and shrivel as long as the frost remained, but as soon as the temperature rose they became normal, without a trace of injury. When planted as above, young specimens will soon become so established and inured to open-air conditions, that little concern need be felt as regards winter; even such as were under trees, where they continued to grow too long, and whose tender tops were cut away by frost, have, the following summer, made a number of fresh growths lower down the stems. I should like to say that on rockwork this shrub has a superb effect, and I imagine the better drained condition of such a structure is greatly in favour of its health and hardiness. The propagation is by means of cuttings; slips of half-ripened wood, taken during the warmest months, if put in sandy loam in a cucumber frame, will root like willow. As soon as roots have formed, pot them separately and plunge the pots in the same frame for a week or two, then harden off. For the first winter the young stock ought to be kept either in a greenhouse or a cold frame, and by the end of the following May they will be ready to plant out. A well-drained position is important.

Flowering period, November to March, in favourable or mild seasons.

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