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Soldanellas - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Soldanellas - Soldanella Montana - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Soldanellas Described.

Soldanellas - Soldanellas.
Nat. Ord. Primulaceæ.

Diminutive herbaceous alpine perennials. This genus is small in number of known species as in size of specimens. They are found in very high altitudes in the Tyrol, Switzerland, and Germany; but they are easily managed even in our foggy climate, as is shown by the fact of the various species being grown in all collections of alpines; and, indeed, no collection can be said to be complete without such gems—they are great favourites, as they well deserve to be. They flower in early spring, some with one, and others more than one flower on a stem.

The flowers are very small, broadly bell-shaped, and of a feathery appearance, from the fact of their petals being finely divided. The foliage is also small, nearly round, of good substance, and in all the following species very bright green; the leaf stalks are long and wiry, and form neat and handsome little tufts, independent of the flowers, which, I may add, do not last more than five or six days.

S. alpina, smaller in all its parts, but otherwise much resembling S. montana—has leaves the size of a shilling piece, flowers bright blue, mostly two on a stem.

S. Clusii, from Germany, is smaller than S. alpina; in other respects similar, with the exception of flowers, which are purple.

S. minima (smallest). Very tiny in all its parts, many of its little thick leaves being only ¼in. across; flowers purple, single on the stem, which is only ½in. to 1in. long.

S. montana (illustrated) is the largest species of all—leaves the size of a half-crown piece, flowers bright blue, four or five on a stem, 5in. high. It has other distinctions, of a minute character, from the smaller species, but by difference of size alone it may be readily identified.

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All the Soldanellas love a vegetable soil, as peat or leaf mould, to which, when under cultivation, a liberal quantity of sand should be added. If grown in pots, they make lovely specimens, and should be plunged in sand and kept moist; but I find my specimens to grow much more vigorously when planted out, as they are at the base of a small rockery, rather below the level of the neighbouring walk, which forms a miniature watershed for the supply of moisture. I also fancy the liverwort, which surrounds them, rather helps them than otherwise. Certain I am, however, that moisture is the great desideratum in the culture of this genus. My difficulty with the planted-out specimens is to keep them from being grazed off by the slugs; a dash of silver sand every day or two has sometimes proved of use. When the Soldanellas once get into proper quarters they make rapid growth; I have divided them most successfully in April and May.

Flowering period, March to May.

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