H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Saxifraga Peltata - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Saxifraga Peltata Described.
Saxifraga Peltata - Nat. Ord. Saxifragaceæ.
A new species to English gardens, hardy, herbaceous, and perennial, imported from North America; it is a truly noble plant. The illustration will convey some idea of its fine form, but the reader must rely on the description for its size when fully developed. When the flowers of this Saxifrage are in their best form, the noble foliage is scarcely half developed; a drawing, therefore (though it could hardly be made at a stage when the plant is more interesting), must necessarily fail, in this case, to give any more than an approximate idea of the parts undeveloped. Not only is this the largest species of the extensive genus at present grown in this country, but its form is both distinct and noble.
The flowers are produced on stems 18in. high and ¾in. thick at the base, being covered with long stiff white hairs, which are very conspicuous on the reddish stems. The flowers are similar to those of most of the genus, as may be seen by the one given in the drawing; they are arranged in massive heads, 3in. to 6in. in diameter, and rose-coloured. The leaves at the flowering time are 6in. or 9in. across, having stout, round, ruddy stems, 8in. long, covered with stiff hairs; they form a junction with the leaves in an unusual way, viz., near the centre, whence the specific name peltata, or umbrella shape; but the form of the leaves at the flowering period, which is funnel-shape, is, a little later on, reversed, the edges bending downwards. The younger leaves are folded and hooked downward, having the appearance of stout fern fronds just out of the ground, and their stalks are much contorted. The more advanced leaves are seen to be seven-cut, each lobe divided and sub-divided by cuts less deep, the whole leaf being richly toothed and veined. The under side is covered with hairs, the upper surface being smooth, shining, and of a pleasing bronze-green colour. Later, the foliage in every way increases very much in size, reaching a height of 2ft., and each leaf measuring nearly a foot across. The root or rhizoma is horizontal, progressive, jointed, and fibrous at the joints, and nearly 2in. in diameter; it may be clearly traced on the surface, but the fibrous parts go very deep.
It is said to be a bog subject; fortunately, however, this fine plant may be grown otherwise than in a bog, but it should not want for depth of rich soil. This I believe to be a more important condition than a boggy situation, inasmuch as I have grown my specimen for three years on the top of a dry mound; but the soil is good rich loam, and fully 5ft. deep; and to show that this strong-growing subject needs a good depth of soil, I may mention that I had occasion to dig up a piece, when it was found, for the operation, to require both the strength and tools that trees demand, the fibrous parts being deep and tough. When fairly established it makes rapid growth, and when in full leaf it proves very effective. Its propagation is easy with healthy plants; a length of the creeping root, with a crown to it, should be cut from the parent stock just before growth commences in early March. If planted as indicated in the foregoing remarks, and kept shaded with a leafy branch for a month or two, there need not be any fear about young plants becoming established the first season.
Flowering period, June.
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