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H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Hypericum Calycinum - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Hypericum Calycinum - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Hypericum Calycinum Described.

Hypericum Calycinum - Large-calyxed St. John's Wort, or Rose of Sharon; Nat. Ord. Hypericaceæ.

A very ornamental deciduous shrub, but often green throughout the winter. This I claim the privilege of introducing amongst herbaceous perennials; it is a well-known and favourite "old-fashioned" flower, in fact, a native of Ireland. The old name for it was "Cup St. John's Wort." In July it is in splendid form, and, familiar as we are with it, it never fails to win admiration. How charming are its large, shining, golden blossoms, nestling amongst the bright but glaucous foliage! the bundled tassels composed of numerous filamentary stamens glistening like threads of gold; and though often seen one can never tire of it. As a flower, it is distinct in form, showy, and richly effective.

It grows to the height of 1ft. or 18in.; the flowers are 4in. across, of a rich golden-yellow colour, and produced singly on the very leafy stems which, at the base or at their more woody parts, are square, the upper parts being nearly round. Short flower-stalks issue from the side and near the top, a small new growth being produced in juxtaposition with the blossom, the said growth being composed of half-a-dozen or so smaller-sized leaves of a pale apple-green, charmingly suffused with a glaucous hue. The calyx of five sepals is very large, whence the specific name, and each sepal is nearly round and cupped, whence the old common name, "Cup St. John's Wort"; the five petals are 2in. long and widely apart; stamens very numerous, long, thready, and arranged in tufts. These are very beautiful, and form the most conspicuous part of the flower; like the other seed organs, and also the petals, they are of a rich, glistening, yellow colour. The leaves are closely arranged in pairs, opposite, and nearly sessile; they are 2in. to 3in. long, and about 1in. broad, oval-oblong, blunt, smooth, and leathery. When young, they are as above described, but when older, they are of a dark, shining green colour, and somewhat reflexed. The under sides are finely reticulated or veined, and sometimes the foliage is spotted with brown. The habit of the shrub is neat, the short stems being numerous and semi-prostrate, forming dense, even masses of verdant foliage.

Such a subject as this cannot be too highly esteemed on the score of the merits already set forth; but there are other good qualities which I will briefly refer to presently. There can be little doubt that the fine parts and many uses, decorative and otherwise, of most of the "old-fashioned" flowers have much to do with the high and continued esteem in which they are held. Not one of the least recommendations of this St. John's Wort is that it can be grown with great success under the shade of trees. It is one of the very few subjects that will bloom freely in such situations. It is, therefore, very valuable; besides, as regards its period of flowering, it comes in nicely after the vincas are over. These two genera are, perhaps, the best hardy flowering shrubs we possess for planting in the shade of trees. I scarcely need add that for more open situations, as rockwork and borders, it is in every way suitable.

To the lover of cut flowers this must prove one of the most satisfactory, not only because of its beauty, but also because they are produced for fully three months—into September—and they are sweetly scented, like wallflowers. A flower-topped stem forms a perfect and unique decoration for a lady's hair; sprays in small vases are exquisite, whilst a bowlful for the table (without any other flower) is very fine indeed—let the reader try these simple styles of decoration. Also, mixed with other flowers, it is one of the most telling; none of the yellow exotics can excel it. It is now before me, with a few sprays of the pink sweet pea and a bold spike of the white variety of goat's-rue; the blend is both delicate and effective. As a cut flower it can hardly be misused, provided it is not crowded.

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Hypericum Calycinum

Its culture is simple. Any sort of garden soil suits it, but it prefers a sandy loam. A winter top dressing of stable litter will help to produce greater luxuriance and a longer succession of flowers. It quickly and broadly propagates itself by means of its creeping roots; these may be at any time chopped off, with a sharp spade, in strong pieces, which, if planted in deeply-dug loam, will make blooming specimens for the following season.

Flowering period, July to September.


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