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Edraianthus Dalmaticus - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Edraianthus Dalmaticus - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Edraianthus Dalmaticus Described.

Edraianthus Dalmaticus - Nat. Ord. Campanulaceæ.

A rare and beautiful alpine species, from Dalmatia and Switzerland. At the end of July it is one of the most distinct and charming flowers in the rock garden, where it not only finds a happy home, but, by its neat and peculiar habit, proves a decorative subject of much merit. This desirable plant is quite hardy in this climate, being herbaceous and perennial; it has, however, the reputation of being difficult to manage, but, like numerous other things, when once its requirements and enemies are found out, the former supplied and protection from the latter afforded, it proves of easy management. In some instances these conditions may, though stated in such few words, prove comprehensive; but in this case it is not so. The position and soil it most seems to enjoy may be readily afforded in any garden, as we shall shortly see; but, so far as my experience goes, the slugs are its most persistent enemies. Especially when in flower do they make long journeys to reach it; they go over sand and ashes with impunity, and often the beautiful tufts of bloom are all grazed off in one night. I had occasion to fetch in from the garden the specimen now before me, and, when brought into the gaslight, a large slug was found in the midst of the grassy foliage, and a smaller one inside one of the bell flowers. The "catch and kill 'em" process is doubtless the surest remedy, and three hours after sunset seems to be the time of their strongest muster. Not only does this plant suffer from slugs when in flower, but perhaps equally as much when in its dormant state, especially if the winter is mild; then I have noticed the somewhat prominent crowns eaten entirely off, and it is not unlikely that this plant has come to have the name of a fickle grower, from being the favourite prey of slugs.

It is not more than 4in. high under any conditions in this climate, and more often only 3in. in height. From the thrift-like tufts of foliage there radiates a set of stout round flower stalks, which are 3in. to 4in. long, and rest on the ground; the large heads of flowers are erect; the stalks are red, and furnished with short stout hairs and short foliage, the latter becoming sere long before the bloom fades. The crowded heads of "bells" are of pale purple colour, in the style of the bell-flower; they are an inch in length, the corolla being somewhat deeply divided; eight to twelve form the terminal cluster, and they have a fleshy calyx, with very long and persistent segments; the lower part can scarcely be seen for the ample and somewhat peculiar bract which closely embraces the whole cluster; said bract springs from the much thickened stalk and is composed of half leaf and half scale-like forms, arranged in two or more circles; the scales feather off with the leaf-like appendage, the latter being reflexed, but the whole is furnished with spines. The foliage of a well-grown specimen is arranged in tufts, the whole having a grass-like appearance. The leaves are 2in. to 4in. long, rough and hairy on the upper side, smooth and shining underneath, the edges having rather long hairs their whole length; the main root is long, thick, and somewhat woody.

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Edraianthus Dalmaticus

To grow this plant well, it requires a good deep loam for its long roots, and a surfacing of grit will be of benefit, as the crowns should be clear of the damp loam. This elevation of the crowns is natural to the plant, and should be provided for. The position cannot well be too exposed, provided the deep searching roots can find plenty of moisture. On rockwork this subject may be planted with considerable effect. If put between large stones in upright positions, the plant will show its pretty form to advantage. The spoke-like flower stalks, radiating from the rich dark green tufts of foliage, are very pleasing. It may be propagated by offsets from strong and healthy plants. Care should be taken not only to have all the roots possible with each crown, but the young stock should be carefully established in pots before planting in the open. Shade and careful watering will be needful; too much of the latter will render rot inevitable. Soon as the flowering period is past is the best time to divide the roots, which should not be done too severely.

Flowering period, July and August.

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