H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Hesperis Matronalis Flore-pleno - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Hesperis Matronalis Flore-pleno Described.
Hesperis Matronalis Flore-pleno - Double Sweet Rocket, or Dames' Violet; Nat. Ord. Cruciferæ.
There are several double forms of this very popular old flower, such as purple, ruby, and pure white, the last named being by far the greatest favourite. A few years ago it was said to be very scarce, and in some parts of the country it certainly was so, but when the present taste for the good old flowers became general, it was not only found, but quickly propagated, so that now the double white Sweet Rocket may be had everywhere, and certainly no more beautiful flower can occupy the garden borders, its perfume being strong and deliciously fragrant. The parent plant of these double kinds is widely distributed over Europe; all are perfectly hardy.
They vary in height from 12in. to 18in., branching candelabra-like, the flowers being produced in terminal spikes, arranged in the way of, and very much resembling, the double stocks—in fact, the Hesperis used to be called "Queene's Gilloflower." The leaves may be briefly described as oval, lance-shaped, toothed, and veined; dark green, and often spotted or blotched. Gerarde's description, too, may be given, as it is always pleasant to recognise the old plants of 300 years ago: "Dames' Violets hath great large leaues of a darke greene colour, somewhat snipt about the edges; among which spring up stalks of the height of two cubites, set with such like leaves; the flowers come foorth at the toppe of the branches—like those of the Stock Gilloflower, of a verie sweete smell."
These desirable flowers have a long blooming period, and their cultivation is simple; there is, however, one special point to be observed, otherwise these double kinds will die off. It should be remembered that they produce no seed, and propagation must be carried out by divisions of the roots and cuttings; old plants, too, have a habit of forming their perennial crowns nearly out of the soil, so that the roots going down from them are often bare and unestablished; the older parts, too, are frequently attacked by ground vermin. No doubt these causes would tend greatly to the former scarcity of the finer kinds, but all the difficulties, if they can be called such, may be overcome by the very simple process of either putting in cuttings like wallflower slips during summer, or, as soon as the old plants are past their best bloom, dividing and replanting the various parts deeper, whereby all of them, however small, will make good plants the following season.
Hesperis Matronalis Flore-pleno
This mode of keeping up the stock will be found to make the plants vigorous and free blooming, and also will prove a remedy for the complaint so often given expression to in such words as "I lost all my double Sweet Rockets; I cannot keep them above two years."
Flowering period, June to August.
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