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H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers - Author: John Wood - Landscaping and Garden Design - By variety in grouping, positioning and plants of interest can be inspected more leisurely - The seasons and the weather will not admit more than casual walks in the garden.


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Saxifraga Paradoxa - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Saxifraga Paradoxa - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Saxifraga Paradoxa Described.

Saxifraga Paradoxa - Paradoxical Saxifrage; Nat. Ord. Saxifragaceæ.

One of the less known and, perhaps, somewhat rare saxifrages; it is a curious, distinct, and beautiful form, being of that class which the lover of the ornamental kinds most admires, for not only is it attractive all the year round, but additionally so when there cannot be seen any part of a growing or decaying flower stem upon it, and when its silvery, but lax rosettes, with their encrustments and glistening leaf dots, are perfectly matured, which is the case during mid-winter. I fear the illustration (Fig. 89), can give but a poor idea of the pleasing silvery-grey colour, which, when the specimen is dry, overlays foliage of a dark and glossy green, to say nothing of the numerous and regular spots which so charmingly enliven the specimens. I am unable to learn to what species it is most nearly related; its name, which doubtless has reference to its peculiar form and habit, would seem to isolate it even from its parents, if such are known; it, however, belongs to that section having thick leathery leaves, ligulate, encrusted, arranged in rosette form, and having excavated dots. Saxifraga lingulata, S. crustata, S. Australis, S. longifolia, and S. carinthiaca belong to the same section; but S. paradoxa differs much in general appearance from them all, and remarkably so in one or two respects, as, indeed, it does from the whole genus, thus justifying its name. The uneven length and arrangement of leaves, the casting off of the encrustments as a skin or in flakes, exposing to view a finely-polished surface, and the general web-like appearance of the tufts, are all peculiar to it. Of all the varieties of its section it most resembles S. carinthiaca and S. Australis; these forms, however, grow in compact rosette form, having leaves of more even size and shape. Our subject is irregular in every way, many of the leaves pushing out to double the length of others, and becoming attenuated at their junction, or club-shaped.

Its flowers are insignificant and similar to those of S. Aizoon, but more dwarf in the stem. The leaves are ½in. to 3in. long, very narrow and tongue-shaped, sometimes obtuse and club-shaped; stout, dark green, with a greyish crust-like covering, and deeply dotted with bright spots. The leaves are arranged in lax rosettes and are reflexed or pressed flat to the earth nearly all their length. The habit is very pretty in established and fair-sized specimens, which accommodate themselves to the form of surface, and the longer or erratic leaves become so interlaced with the other parts as to appear woven; this habit and the bright bead-like dots go to make the plant more than ordinarily attractive. It should be in every collection of choice Saxifrages; it is charming as a pot specimen, plunged and grown out of doors the year round.

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Saxifraga Paradoxa

On rockwork it should have a place, too, among the gems, being a neat and slow grower; its position should be near dark-coloured stones, where it will prove most telling. In damp weather its silvery parts are obliterated, but a breeze of half-an-hour or a beam of sunshine soon brings it into full beauty again. Gritty peat and a little loam suits it well; I have it doing nicely in ordinary garden soil; but if the more carefully prepared composts are employed, the results well repay the pains so taken. Its propagation is easily carried out by root divisions; early spring is a good time for the operation.

Flowering period, May and June.


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