H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Saxifraga Pyramidalis - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Saxifraga Pyramidalis Described.
Saxifraga Pyramidalis - Pyramidal Saxifraga; Nat. Ord. Saxifragaceæ.
This is a very handsome form or variety of S. Cotyledon, and belongs to the alpine regions of Europe. As a decorative subject for our gardens, it is highly and deservedly esteemed; its attractiveness consists more in the numbers and arrangement of the flowers than in any beauty which belongs to them individually, though they are not devoid of that quality.
Of the many hundreds of species and varieties of Saxifrages which bloom during the month of June, this is one of the most distinct and useful as a decorative flower, and where the Saxifrages are grown in large collections, as they often are, giving more than an ordinary amount of pleasure compared with collections of other genera, the kind now under consideration always asserts itself as one of the first order of merit. Not only in its blooming state, but all the year round, it is very effective and striking; it is a free grower, having handsome, large rosetted foliage.
The flowers, as will be seen by the one given, natural size, in the illustration, are of the common Saxifrage form, but rather more highly coloured in the central markings than the general run. They are produced on stout stems, 2ft. high, well and evenly branched in the form of a pyramid, whence the specific name. Each flower will be ½in. or more across; they are very numerous, and, partly from the fact that they remain perfect for a very long while, and partly because of the habit of the plant being to open all its flowers about or near the same time, the large panicle of bloom is very fine. The leaves, as already hinted, are formed into lax rosettes, which are 5in. to 7in. across; they are strap-shaped, narrowing slightly at the connection, half an inch wide, the outer ones being reflexed; the edges are finely serrated, and irregularly lined with a silver colouring.
This is a capital plant for rockwork, where it shows itself to much advantage; but specimens are much finer grown in beds or borders, where the moisture and temperature at the roots are likely to be more equable; besides, I find that, owing to its small quantity of roots, all of which are very near the surface, when grown on rockwork they may often be seen bare on inclined surfaces, and the weight of the flowers drags them entirely out of the soil on one side. They may be planted as an edging to a shrubbery, in bold groups, or as ordinary border flowers. So useful has this variety been found by professional gardeners that it is now largely grown in pots in single rosettes, which, after becoming well established, send up their rich plumes of blossom, all the finer for having been kept clean under glass. So grown, nothing can better repay the small amount of trouble which they give in order to place them in the conservatory as showy specimens; all they require being a 4in. pot, well drained, a compost of half-rotted leaves, and fat loam and sand. Put in one rooted offset any time from June to the end of July, the earlier the better; plunge the pot to its rim in sand or ashes until next spring, when it may be taken under glass if desired. To have fine flowers, the offsets should be pinched off as they appear. I may also mention that a somewhat shady situation has proved conducive to large and better coloured flowers; between irises 4ft. high and shrubs 6ft. high, the opening being not more than 3ft., running north and south. The specimen from which the drawing is taken was grown along with many others. A baking or dry treatment is often not only given to plants of this genus, but believed to be of advantage to them; it may be to some, but there are exceptions, and this is one without doubt. All the sections of Saxifraga to which it belongs are fond of good loam, well enriched. It is propagated from offsets taken as soon as they are from an inch to two inches across; they may either be put into nursery beds or be planted in their blooming quarters.
Flowering period, June and July.
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