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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 160 pages of information about About Orchids.
of all the many varieties would grow in it; after vain efforts, Mr. Thiselton Dyer was obliged to seek another use for the building, which is now employed to show plants in flower.  Sir Trevor Lawrence tells how he laid out six hundred pounds for the same object with the same result.  And yet one may safely reckon that this orchid does admirably in nine well-managed stoves out of ten, and fairly in nineteen out of twenty.  Nevertheless, it is a maxim with growers that Phaloenopsis should never be transferred from a situation where they are doing well.  Their hooks are sacred as that on which Horace suspended his lyre.  Nor could a reasonable man think this fancy extravagant, seeing the evidence beyond dispute which warns us that their health is governed by circumstances more delicate than we can analyze at present.

It would be wrong to leave the impression that orchid culture is actually as facile as market gardening, but we may say that the eccentricities of Phaloenopsis and the rest have no more practical importance for the class I would persuade than have the terrors of the deep for a Thames water-man.  How many thousand householders about this city have a “bit of glass” devoted to geraniums and fuchsias and the like!  They started with more ambitious views, but successive disappointments have taught modesty, if not despair.  The poor man now contents himself with anything that will keep tolerably green and show some spindling flower.  The fact is, that hardy plants under glass demand skilful treatment—­all their surroundings are unnatural, and with insect pest on one hand, mildew on the other, an amateur stands betwixt the devil and the deep sea.  Under those circumstances common plants become really capricious—­that is, being ruled by no principles easy to grasp and immutable in operation, their discomfort shows itself in perplexing forms.  But such species of orchids as a poor man would think of growing are incapable of pranks.  For one shilling he can buy a manual which will teach him what these species are, and most of the things necessary for him to understand besides.  An expenditure of five pounds will set him up for life and beyond—­since orchids are immortal.  Nothing else is needed save intelligence.

Not even heat, since his collection will be “cool” naturally; if frost be excluded, that is enough.  I should not have ventured to say this some few years ago—­before, in fact, I had visited St. Albans.  But in the cool house of that palace of enchantment with which Mr. Sander has adorned the antique borough, before the heating arrangements were quite complete though the shelves were occupied, often the glass would fall very low into the thirties.  I could never learn distinctly that mischief followed, though Mr. Godseff did not like it at all.  One who beheld the sight when those fields of Odontoglossum burst into bloom might well entertain a doubt whether improvement was possible.  There is nothing to approach it

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