H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Lychnis Chalcedonica - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Lychnis Chalcedonica Described.
Lychnis Chalcedonica - Chalcedonian Lychnis, or Scarlet Lychnis; Nat. Ord. Silenaceæ.
This hardy herbaceous perennial came from Russia so long ago as 1596. It is a well-known and favourite flower, and, of course, a very "old-fashioned" one; it is commonly called the Scarlet Lychnis, but there are other forms of it with white flowers, both double and single, and there is also a double scarlet variety. The typical form comes into flower a fortnight earlier than the others, but all may be seen in bloom during July. The very brilliant flowers, which are produced for several weeks in large showy heads, must commend this plant, and its tall habit renders it all the more conspicuous. It ought to be grown in every collection of hardy perennial flowers, amongst which bright scarlets are not too plentiful. In sandy loam, enriched with well-rotted manure, it attains a height of 2ft. to 3ft. The flowers are ¾in. across, the five petals open flat, and each petal is divided into two rounded segments; the calyx is hairy, long, bellied, ribbed, five-cleft, and much narrowed at the divisions; the numerous flowers are arranged in flat clusters, interspersed with many small leaves or bracteoles; the stems are stout, round, and having hairs pointing downwards; the nodes or joints are distant and furnished with a pair of stem-clasping, lance-shaped leaves, whence issue short stems that flower later on. The leaves are 2in. to 4in. long, lance-shaped, hairy, waved at the edges, and somewhat recurved. The whole plant is of a clammy character, after the manner of other Catchflies.
As already hinted, this species, with its varieties, enjoys a sandy soil; a mulching of manure proves of great benefit; not only are the heads of bloom larger for it, but the side shoots are induced to flower freely. In borders of tall plants the scarlets are very showy; they cannot, however, endure shade; the position should be sunny and open. The propagation of the single forms may be carried out by seed, which ripens in large quantities; in fact, they sow themselves freely. The double kinds should be divided in early spring. In a cut state the flowers are both useful and effective, and if kept in a sunny window will continue in good form and open the buds.
Flowering period, June to August.
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