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Epigaea Repens - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Epigaea Repens - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Epigaea Repens Described.

Epigaea Repens - Epigæa Repens - Creeping or Ground Laurel; Nat. Ord. Ericaceæ.

A hardy evergreen creeper, long since imported into this country from North America (1736), but only within the last few years has it won much favour. At the present time it is much sought after. It has the reputation of being a ticklish subject to grow. Many have had it and lost it, and those who still retain a specimen are loth to mutilate it for increase. This may to some extent account for the present demand for and difficulty experienced in obtaining it. For the last three years, hard as the seasons have been within that time, its flowers have been produced in great abundance on my specimen.

Usually it flowers in this climate in April, but when winter has continued open and genial, its blooms are produced as early as the middle of March, and they are in their full beauty in early April. They are white, delicately tinged with pink, of much substance and wax-like appearance. They are small, not unlike in form the lilac flower, but rather more open at the corolla and shorter in the tube. They are arranged in one-sided, elongated bunches, which rest on the ground, the blossoms peeping through the foliage. I must not omit to mention perhaps the most desirable property of this species—viz., the perfume of its flowers, which is strong, aromatic, and refreshing. The leaves are cordate, ovate, and entire, nearly 2in. long, slightly drawn or wrinkled, and covered with stiffish hairs. They are arranged on procumbent branches, all, like the flowers, facing upwards. To see the clusters of waxy flowers these branches must be raised, when it will be seen that the flower stalks issue from the axils of the leaves all along the branches. In a cut state the flowers are more than useful; they are, from their delicious, scent, a great treat. The plant is a suitable companion to the ledums, kalmias, gaultherias, and other genera of its own order.

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Epigaea Repens

Its culture, in this climate at least, has, from all accounts, proved rather difficult, so that it may be said to require special treatment; such, at any rate, has been my experience of it. Suitable soil, aspect, shelter, moisture, and position, all seem necessary for the well-doing of this plant. It deserves them all, and, let me add, they may all be easily afforded. The list of requirements may seem formidable on paper, but to put them into practice is but a trifling affair. My specimen is grown in leaf mould, a little loam mixed in with it, and fine charcoal instead of sand, but sand will answer nearly as well; the aspect is east, it is sheltered from the west by a wall, the north by rhododendrons, and the south by a tall andromeda. Moreover, its position is one that is sunken between small mounds, where moisture collects, and is never wanting; and when the specimen was first planted a large sandstone was placed over its roots to further secure them against drought; under these conditions it has thriven and flowered well, and afforded many offshoots. I attribute its well-doing mainly to the sheltered aspect and even state of moisture, but doubtless all the conditions have helped its growth. Its propagation is best carried out by earthing up about the collar, so as to induce the branches to become rooted, or they may be pegged near the extremities like carnation layers, but they will be two years, probably, before they can be safely lifted.

Flowering period, middle of March to end of April.

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