H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Ramondia Pyrenaica - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Ramondia Pyrenaica Described.
Ramondia Pyrenaica - Syns. Chaixia Myconi and Verbascum Myconi; Nat. Ord. Solanaceæ.
This is a very dwarf and beautiful alpine plant, from the Pyrenees, the one and only species of the genus. Although it is sometimes called a Verbascum or Mullien, it is widely distinct from all the plants of that family. To lovers of dwarf subjects this must be one of the most desirable; small as it is, it is full of character.
The flowers, when held up to a good light, are seen to be downy and of ice-like transparency; they are of a delicate, pale, violet colour, and a little more than an inch in diameter, produced on stems 3in. to 4in. high, which are nearly red, and furnished with numerous hairs; otherwise the flower stems are nude, seldom more than two flowers, and oftener only one bloom is seen on a stem. The pedicels, which are about half-an-inch long, bend downwards, but the flowers, when fully expanded, rise a little; the calyx is green, downy, five-parted, the divisions being short and reflexed at their points; the corolla is rotate, flat, and, in the case of flowers several days old, thrown back; the petals are nearly round, slightly uneven, and waved at the edges, having minute protuberances at their base tipped with bright orange, shading to white; the seed organs are very prominent; stamens arrow-shaped; pistil more than twice the length of filaments and anthers combined, white, tipped with green. The leaves are arranged in very flat rosettes, the latter being from four to eight inches across. The foliage is entirely stemless, the nude flower stalks issuing from between the leaves, which are roundly toothed, evenly and deeply wrinkled, and elliptical in outline. Underneath, the ribs are very prominent, and the covering of hairs rather long, as are also those of the edges. On the upper surface the hairs are short and stiff.
In the more moist interstices of rockwork, where, against and between large stones, its roots will be safe from drought, it will not only be a pleasing ornament, but will be likely to thrive and flower well. It is perfectly hardy, but there is one condition of our climate which tries it very much—the wet, and alternate frosts and thaws of winter. From its hairy character and flat form, the plant is scarcely ever dry, and rot sets in. This is more especially the case with specimens planted flat; it is therefore a great help against such climatic conditions to place the plants in rockwork, so that the rosettes are as nearly as possible at right angles with the ground level. Another interesting way to grow this lovely and valuable species is in pans or large pots, but this system requires some shelter in winter, as the plants will be flat. The advantages of this mode are that five or six specimens so grown are very effective. They can, from higher cultivation (by giving them richer soil, liquid manure, and by judicious confinement of their roots), be brought into a more floriferous condition, and when the flowers appear, they can be removed into some cool light situation, under cover, so that their beauties can be more enjoyed, and not be liable to damage by splashing, &c. Plants so grown should be potted in sandy peat, and a few pieces of sandstone placed over the roots, slightly cropping out of the surface; these will not only help to keep the roots from being droughted, but also bear up the rosetted leaves, and so allow a better circulation of air about the collars, that being the place where rot usually sets in. In the case of specimens which do not get proper treatment, or which have undergone a transplanting to their disadvantage, they will often remain perfectly dormant to all appearance for a year or more. Such plants should be moved into a moist fissure in rockwork, east aspect, and the soil should be of a peaty character. This may seem like coddling, and a slur on hardy plants. Here, however, we have a valuable subject, which does not find a home in this climate exactly so happy as its native habitat, but which, with a little care, can have things so adapted to its requirements as to be grown year after year in its finest form; such care is not likely to be withheld by the true lover of choice alpines.
This somewhat slow-growing species may be propagated by division, but only perfectly healthy specimens should be selected for the purpose, early spring being the best time; by seed also it may be increased; the process, however, is slow, and the seedlings will be two years at least before they flower.
Flowering period, May to July.
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