H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Ononis Rotundifolia - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Ononis Rotundifolia Described.
Ononis Rotundifolia - Round-leaved Restharrow; Nat. Ord. Leguminosæ.
One of the most charming of the "old-fashioned" border flowers, having been grown in this country since 1570. It came from the Pyrenees, is hardy, evergreen, and shrubby. The common name of the genus, Restharrow, is in reference to the long, tough, and woody roots and branches. According to Gerarde, these properties "maketh the oxen, whilst they be in plowing, to rest or stand still." Although this species has tough roots and branches, it seems more likely that the name would be from the trouble caused by the weedy species of the genus of his time.
In its growing state there is seen an exquisiteness of form and colour rarely approached by any other subject; from the manner in which the unopened scarlet buds blend with the thick and handsome-shaped foliage, the illustration can scarcely do justice to it. It should not be judged by other and better known species of the genus, some of which are of a weedy character, and from which this is as distinct as it well can be. Besides having the valuable property of flowering all summer, it is otherwise a suitable subject for the most select collections of hardy flowers.
It grows 18in. high, and is erect and branched in habit; the flowers are produced on short side shoots; in form they are pea-flower-shaped, as the reader will infer from the order to which the shrub belongs. The raceme seldom has more than two or three flowers fully open at one time, when they are of a shaded pink colour, and nearly an inch in length; the leaves are 1in. to 2in., ternate, sometimes in fives, ovate, toothed, and covered with glandular hairs.
The plant should be grown in bold specimens for the best effect. Ordinary garden soil suits it; if deeply dug and enriched, all the better. It is not so readily increased by division of the roots as many border plants, though root slips may, with care, be formed into nice plants the first season; the better plan is to sow the seed as soon as well ripened, from which more vigorous plants may be had, and they will sometimes flower the following summer, though far short of their natural size.
Flowering period, June to September.
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