Sisyrinchium Grandiflorum - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Sisyrinchium Grandiflorum Described.
Sisyrinchium Grandiflorum - Satin-Flower, or Rush Lily; Nat. Ord. Iridaceæ.
The generic name of this flower is in reference to the grubbing of swine for
its roots, and means "pig-snout." The common names may be seen, by
a glance at the cut (Fig. 97), to be most appropriate; that of Satin-flower is
of American origin the plant being a native of Oregon, and is in reference
to its rich satiny blossom; that of Rush-lily, which is, perhaps, an even more
suitable name, has been recently applied to it, I believe, in this country. It
is applicable alike to the rush-like form and habit of foliage, and the lily-like
purity and style of flowers. It was sent to this country in 1826, and yet it
is rarely met with in English gardens. Some think it scarcely hardy in our climate
in certain soils. I happen to have grown it for six years, which period includes
the recent severe winters, and it has not only survived but increased in a moderate
degree. This took place on rockwork facing south; in the autumn of 1881 I divided
the specimen, and planted a part of it in the coldest part of my garden, which
is not without clay, though far from all clay; that division is now a strong
plant, and has made an extra crown; it forms the subject of the present illustration.
Let me state, in passing, that it is naturally a slow grower. The very severe
weather of the week previous to my writing this note, in March, 1883, when 23deg.
of frost was registered, which cut down the bloom stems of Hellebores and many
other well-known hardy things, did not hurt this subject very much; I am, therefore,
confident of its hardiness from six years of such experience.
The flowers are 1in. to 1½in. long, and about as much across when open,
of a fine purple colour, with a shining satiny appearance; the six transparent
petal-like divisions are of uneven form, having short bluntish points; from the
openness of the corolla the stamens and style are well exposed, and they are
very beautiful. The flowers are produced when the plant is about 6in. or 9in. high,
the buds being developed on a rush-like stem, and enfolded in an almost invisible sheath 2in. or 3in. from the apex. Gradually the sheath, from becoming
swollen, attracts notice, and during sunshine it will suddenly burst and let fall its precious contents—a pair of beautiful flowers—which dangle
on slender arching pedicels, springing from the sheath-socket. They seem to enjoy
their new-born freedom, and flutter in the March wind like tethered butterflies.
Their happy day, however, is soon over; their fugacious petals shrivel in three
or four days. The leaves are rush-like, ribbed, and sheathed.
I have found it to thrive in loam, both light and moderately stiff, also in
vegetable soil and sand; it likes moisture, but not of a stagnant character;
between large stones, at the base of rockwork, suits it in every way; it may
also be grown by the side of the larger kinds of snowdrops for contrast and effect.
Impatient of being disturbed, it is not wisdom to lift it for any purpose, provided
it is making progress, or until it has formed strong tufts; when, if it is desirable
to increase it, and during early autumn, the long roots should be got well under,
and taken out of the ground as entire as possible; from their wiry nature they
are then both easily cleared of earth and divided into single crowns; these should
be replanted in positions deeply dug, and where they are intended to remain,
being carefully arranged without any doubling up. After such pains have been
taken with so well-deserving a plant, there will be little to fear for its future,
no matter how severe the winter may prove.
S. g. album is a white-flowered variety, of which, however, I have had no
experience. Since these lines appeared in serial form, a lady, cultivating a
good collection of choice hardy flowers, has informed me that this variety is
very fine, and in every way commendable.
Flowering period, March to May, according to positions or climatic conditions.
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