« السابقةمتابعة »
waters of the polar seas, feeding on the insects with which those regions abound, and furnishing in their turns a grateful meal to our adventurous navigators.
To the CURLEW.
His dan-grey plumage floating to the gale,
The Curlew bends his melancholy wail
The bleak lone sea-beach, or the rocky dale,
And shun the orange bower, the myrtle vale,
In limpid clearness, or when tempests blow;
Flow calm, as my past moments used to flow;
H. M, WILLIAMS.
On the appearance of the gossamer in this month, consult our last volume, pp. 261-264.
The gamma moth (phalana gamma) haunts our clover fields when in bloom, whisking about with the same activity, bustle, and vibration of its wings, as the sphinx stellatarum, which at first it resembles; it does not rise and fly away like any other moth, but springs up, and immediately again alights, as if reluctant to quit its banquet on the nectary of the charlock (sinapis arvensis): it feeds by day, contrary to the general habits of phalæna. None of the Lepidoptera seem more innoxious to cold than this moth, remaining very late in the autumn, even in the last sunny days of October: should the field scabious (scabiosa arvensis) be in flower, it may be observed flitting from head to head, but little deprived of its activity. The appearance of some of the lepidopterous order is very uncertain; they may abound in one summer, and totally disappear for many of the succeeding ones'; and none more remarkably than
· See our last volume, pp. 188, 205.
papilio cardamine: but the phalæna gamma seems constantly to be found, enduring uninjured all the various contingences unfavourable to its more delicate companions.
Among the flowers which are still usually in blow, in this month, is the holy-oak, Michaelmas daisy, stocks, nasturtian, marigold, mignionette, lavender, wall-flower, red hips, china rose, virginia stock, heart's ease, laurustinus, rocket, St. John's wort, periwinkle, &c. But, chiefly the dahlia, a flower not much in cultivation till of late years, exhibits its majestic and brilliant splendour of stars above its dark green stalks and leaves.
The Dahlia, named after Dahl a Swedish botanist, is remarkable for the great beauty and diversity of its flowers, and for its being in perfection at a season when our gardens are, generally speaking, almost destitute of ornament. The two species of this elegant plant now cultivated are the superflua or purple kind, and the frustanea or scarlet, with numerous varieties of each species, which the taste and industry of our gardeners, every season, contribute to increase. The plants of the superflua or purple species, raised from seeds, vary extremely in the form of the leaves, the appearance of the stems, and in their stature; some exceeding eight feet in height, while others scarcely reach four feet. The varieties of the superflua, with single and semidouble flowers, are most numerous, for the collections in the principal nurseries round London consist of from 100 to 150 with names, exclusive of unnamed ones.
The frust anea, or scarlet, has not yet sported much; the three distinct varieties originally described, still existing under the names of coccinea, crocata or orange, and lutea. A figure of the D. coccinea, or scarlet dahlia, may be seen in the Botanical Magazine, plate 762, vol. xx; and of the D. superflua, single and double purple dahlia, in the same work, plates 1885, A. B. vol. xliv.
The seeds of the dahlia are to be sown in March, or earlier, on heat; the young plants, if necessary, to be pricked out into pots or boxes, and kept under cover in warmth, until the end of April, when they are to be planted out where they are to remain; covering each plant, for some time, with an empty pot at night, to avoid injury from spring frosts. Where dahlias have been planted the preceding year, many young plants will arise from self-sown seeds; these may remain in their original place, or be removed. The seedlings should be planted in rows three feet apart, and two feet distant from each other in the row; allowing sufficient space for a person to walk between them to examine the different varieties. They thrive best in rich loam, and require a clear open space to grow in; the shelter of trees or walls being injurious to them. They should be tied to stakes, as they are liable to be affected by the wind. The seedling plants thus treated will blow in July, and continue in perfection till the autumn; but the first frost injures their foliage and the beauty of the flowers. The summer flowers are much finer than those produced later in the season; though the most splendid show of dahlias, on account of the quantity of flowers in blow at once, is in the months of September and October.
Soon after the leaves and young branches of the plants have been destroyed by the frost, they should be cut down; those which are to be left in the ground must be protected by small heaps of dead leaves, or tan; and if kept quite free from frost, or damp, will grow well next season. The more valuable kinds, however, should be raised from the ground, with their roots and tubers entire, retaining a small portion of the stem attached; they should then be planted in pots in dry mould, and kept in the back of a greenhouse, or other dry and airy place, free from the access of frost, until the spring.
The plants, when put out in the spring, may be distributed on the borders, or into clumps, as may suit the fancy of the cultivator; they look best, however, in a large mass, unmixed with other plants. In this last plan of growing them, care must be taken to have a proper mixture of colours, and to keep the tallest plants either in the centre, or at the back of the clump. The roots should be planted about three feet from each other every way, and the whole clump will then have the appearance of an unbroken wood or forest of dahlias! They look very handsome if planted in the manner of an avenue, in a straight line, on each side of a walk. The earliest flowers will appear in June. The root of the dahlia, boiled, has been recommended as an edible by the French cuisiniers; but, even with the advantage of a good sauce, is not very agreeable to an English palate. For further information respecting the dahlia, we refer to an ingenious paper of Mr. Sabine's, in the
Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London, vol. iii, pp. 217-243, to which we are indebted for the above interesting particulars.
The hedges are ornamented with the wreaths and festoons of the scarlet berries of the black briony; and now and then, that last pale promise of the waning year,' the wild rose, meets the eye.
As wandering, I found, on my ruinous walk,
By the dial-stone aged and green,
To mark where à garden had been :
All wild in the silence of nature it drew
Where the flow'r of my forefathers grew.
That survives in this desolate heart!
But patience shall never depart;
Though the wilds of enchantment, all vernal and bright,
In the days of delusion by fancy combined
The principal harvest of apples is about the beginning of this month; and the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Somersetshire, and Devonshire, are busily employed in the making of cider and perry. Herefordshire is particularly famous as a cider country. Apples are sometimes very much spotted, and in this we have a strong example of the unceasing tendency of nature to produce; and perhaps no animal or vegetable substance exists, but what becomes at some period a soil fitted for her operations: the hoof of a horse (furnishing lycoperdon equinum), or the rind of an apple, are equally appropriated for her performances; not a general and promiscuous vegetation, but possessing individual and characteristic distinction. These applespots appear to be an æcidium, and we may, at times, find this plant fully matured, the central part occupied with fine powdery capsules bursting through their epidermis, which hangs in fragments round the margin. The æcidium evidently derives nutriment from the apple, as round the verge of the spot the skin becomes wrinkled, occasioned probably by that part of the fruit being drawn away for the supply of the plant on the surface. Fungi in general (at least such as become attached to matter not having vegetable life), particularly the species of sphæria, trichia, and peziza, appear as one of the general agents of nature to effect decomposition previously to reorganization; as we almost universally find them on animal or vegetable substances, in a certain state of or approximation to decay. Whether putrescence of sap, generation of ligneous acid, or whatever may be the primal cause, is yet mysterious, but the dissolution rapidly proceeds when they