These are the carnations of Mrs. Marchant’s garden that filled you with such admiration, and also awoke the spirit of emulation. Lavinia Cortright was correct in associating them with the lavish bloom of the gardens of Hampton Court, for if anything could make me permanently unpatriotic (which is impossible), it would be the roses and picotee pinks of the dear old stupid (human middle-class, and cold bedroom-wise), but florally adorable mother country!
The method by which you may possess yourself of these crowning flowers of the garden, for coronations is one of the words from which carnation is supposed but to be derived, is as follows:—
Be sure of your seed. Not long ago it was necessary to import it direct, but not now. You may buy from the oldest of American seed houses fifty varieties of carnations and picotees, in separate packets, for three dollars, or twenty-five sorts for one dollar and seventy-five cents, or twelve (enough for a novice) for one dollar, the same being undoubtedly English or Holland grown, while a good English house asks five shillings, or a dollar and a quarter, for a single packet of mixed varieties!
Moral—it is not necessary that “made in England” should be stamped upon flower seeds to prove them of English origin!
If you can spare hotbed room, the seeds may be sown in April, like the early Margarets, and transplanted into some inconspicuous part of the vegetable garden, where the soil is deep and firm and there is a free circulation of air (not between tall peas and sweet corn), as for the first summer these pinks have no ornamental value, other than the pleasurable spectacle made by a healthy plant of any kind, by virtue of its future promise. Before frost or not later than the second week in October the pinks should be put in long, narrow boxes or pots sufficiently large to hold all the roots comfortably, but with little space to spare, watered, and partly shaded, until they have recovered themselves, when they should be set in the lightest part of the cold pit. During the winter months they should have only enough water to keep the earth from going to dust, and as much light and air as possible without absolutely freezing hard, after the manner of treating lemon verbenas, geraniums, and wall-flowers.
By the middle of April they may be planted in the bed where they are to bloom, and all the further care they need will be judicious watering and the careful staking of the flower stalks if they are weak and the buds top-heavy,—and by the way, as to the staking of flowers in general, a word with you later on.
In the greenhouse, pinks are liable to many ailments, and several of these follow them out-of-doors, three having given me some trouble, the most fatal being of a fungoid order, due usually to unhealthy root conditions or an excess of moisture.
Rust is one of these, its Latin name being too long for the simple vocabulary of The Garden, You, and I. It first shows itself in a brown spot that seems to have worked out from the inner part of the leaf. Sometimes it can be conquered by snipping the infected leaves, but if it seizes an entire bed, the necessary evil of spraying with Bordeaux mixture must be resorted to, as in the case of fungus-spotted hollyhocks.