H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Saxifraga Fortunei - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Saxifraga Fortunei Described.
Saxifraga Fortunei - Fortune's Saxifrage; Nat. Ord. Saxifragaceæ.
This, as may at once be seen by a glance at Fig. 86, belongs to the lobed-leafed section. It is as yet new in English gardens, and is often grown in pots in warm glasshouses. It is, however, perfectly hardy, having stood out with me in the open for the past three years. It is nearly related to S. japonica and its varieties, but is without the stolons or runners. In this climate, with outdoor treatment, it flowers in October until cut down by frost, which sometimes happens before the flowers get well out. It has been stated not only that it is not hardy, but that its flowering period is May. With me it has proved otherwise, and others have proved it to flower naturally in October. I also observed it in bloom in the Hull Botanic Gardens on the open rockwork in November, 1882. I have no doubt that autumn is the natural season for well-established plants to flower; weaker specimens may fail to push forth ere the frost cuts down their leaves, when the dormant buds must remain sealed for the winter, but ready to develope with the return of longer and warmer days.
The flowers are arranged in panicles on scapes nearly a foot high, the panicles being 6in. long and 3in. in diameter. The petals are long and narrow, of uneven length, and notched; colour pure white. The calyx is well developed; segments oval, notched at the ends; colour, pale apple green. Stamens, long and tipped with beautifully orange-coloured anthers. The ovary is prominent, and of a pale yellow. Besides the above features, the flowers, which mostly look sideways and are quite an inch across their broadest parts, have one very long petal at the low side, and the two next are at right angles with it, less than half its size, the two upper ones being still less; the effect is both unusual and pleasing. The leaf stalks are long, stout, and of a succulent nature, semi-transparent, and slightly furnished with longish hairs; the stipules are ample, and of a bright red, which colour extends for a short length up the stalk. The leaves are kidney-shaped, 2in. to 5in. across, eight or ten lobed, toothed and reflexed; they are furnished with solitary stiff hairs, are of good substance, and a very dark green colour, but herbaceous. The habit of this species is neat and very floriferous; therefore it is a valuable plant for in or outdoor gardening; but owing to its late season of flowering outside, the blossom is liable to injury. A bell glass, however, will meet the case; it should be placed over the plant, but tilted slightly, when there are signs of frost—the flowers will amply reward such care. If the bloom can be cut clean, a good cluster will vie with many orchids for delicacy and effect.
I find it to do well in fat loam, and with the same kind of soil in pots, which comes in for placing in cold frames when frost threatens. I find it one of the easiest plants possible to manage—in fact, it needs no care to grow it; still, many amateurs fail to keep it, I suppose from taking it into a warm greenhouse, where it is sure to dwindle. It is readily propagated by division of the crowns, which should be done in spring.
Flowering period, October until strong frosts.
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