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Sabal palmatus, Latania borbonica, and one or two others. Among the ferns we have Asplenium præmorsum,* remarkably fine, Diplazium seramporense † (the Asplenium pubescens of Link), Didymochlæna sinuosa, and more than a hundred other species. Of Scitamineous plants, of which there are ten or a dozen species, the Calathea zebrina is the most conspicuous. The Caladium esculentum, and numerous other plants which do not require much sun, likewise grow in this part of the house. In the upper region are numerous species of Aloë, Cactus, Bilbergia, Begonia, &c. &c. Two or three varieties of rose likewise flower here, but neither so well nor so freely as in the cases already described. In hot summers the Mimosa pudica flowers freely, as do one or two species of Passiflora. In the intermediate spaces are Disandra prostrata, Fuchsias, and various other plants. From the roof are suspended numerous succulents and Orchideous epiphytes, but the temperature falls too low in the winter, and rarely rises sufficiently high in the summer, for these splendid things without a foundation, so that they rarely flower. In a large vessel containing about twenty gallons of water Papyrus elegans grows very well, as does Vallisneria spiralis, and some other aquatics. In addition to this great variety of living forms, this house contains a large and fine collection of Lepidodendra, Calamites, &c.
* This is a valuable plant for such a house, as each frond lasts three or four years in perfection.
+ This plant, which had been sterile at Loddiges for fifty years, produced a frond two years ago covered with fructification.
| The meaning of the name given to them by the South Sea Islanders. -Williams.
&c., which, when compared with their recent types, the Lycopodia and Equiseta, are truly
“ of aspect that appears Beyond the range of vegetative power.”
Such are some of the results obtained in a temperate climate, and there cannot, I think, be a doubt that in tropical countries the application of this same plan might be equally striking and beneficial.
In ordinary horticulture a great deal is effected by closely imitating the natural conditions of plants. Thus my friend Dr. Royle, who has paid especial attention to this subject, informed me that there were certain plants in his garden at Saharunpore, which he could only keep alive by surrounding them with small trees and shrubs, so as to give them a moister atmosphere than they could otherwise have obtained; and he mentions in his beautiful work, the Illustrations of the Flora and Fauna of the Himalayas, a striking example of this kind.—“To show the effects of protection and culture Xanthochymus dulcis may be adduced as a remarkable instance. This tree, which is found only in the southern parts of India, and which would not live in the more exposed climate of Saharunpore, exists as a large tree in the garden of the King of Delhi; but here, surrounded by the numerous buildings within the lofty palace wall, in the midst of almost a forest of trees, with perpetual irrigation from a branch of the canal which flows through the garden, an artificial climate is produced, which enables a plant even so sensitive of cold as one of the Guttifere to flourish in the open air of Delhi, where it is highly prized, and reported to have
milk thrown over its roots, as well as its fruit protected from plunder by a guard of soldiers.”
Supposing ourselves in a hot and dry country, let us see what may be done by surrounding our plants with glass and lowering the temperature, if required, by means of the evaporation of water from the external surface. We shall be enabled in this manner, as with the wand of a magician, to turn a desert into a paradise. The probable results cannot be better described than by copying the beautiful description of the palm-groves given us by Desfontaines, in his Flora Atlantica.'
“ Palmeta radiis solis impervia, umbram in regione calidissima hospitalem incolis, viatoribus, æque ac animantibus ministrant.
Eorum denso sub tegmine absque ordine crescunt aurantia, limones, punicæ, oleæ, amygdali, vites, quæ cursu geniculato sæpe truncos palmarum scandunt. Hæ omnes fructus suavissimos, licet obumbratæ ferunt; ibique mira florum et fructuum varietate, pascuntur oculi; simulque festivis avium cantilenis, quas umbra, aquæ, victus illiciunt, recreantur aures."*
There are many other situations where these cases would be useful, as on ship-board or in other places where there exists a necessity for economizing water, or in very cold countries, where it is equally necessary to make the best use of the little sun they possess and to protect the plants from cold winds. The cabbages of Iceland and Labrador would surely exceed their present size of about one or two inches in diameter if thus protected.
*“ These palm groves, being impervious to the sun's rays, afford a hospitable shade both to man and other animals in a region which would otherwise be intolerable from the intense heat. And under this shelter the orange, the lemon, the pomegranate, the olive, the almond, and the vine, grow in wild luxuriance, producing, notwithstanding they are so shaded, the most delicious fruit. And here, while the eyes are fed with the endless variety of flowers which deck these sylvan scenes, the ears are at the same time ravished with the melodious notes of numerous birds, which are attracted to these groves by the cool springs and the food which they there find.”--Kidd's Bridgewater Treatise.
To conclude with a few general observations.
The advantages of this method of growing plants consist, first, in the power we possess of freeing or sifting the air from all extraneous matters; - then of imitating the natural condition of all plants, as far as the climate we are living in will enable us so to do; and of maintaining this condition free from those disturbing causes to which plants are oftentimes subjected from sudden variations of weather. They are preserved of course from the excess or deficiency of moisture, and, owing to the perfectly quiet atmosphere with which they are surrounded, they are able, like man, to bear extremes of heat and cold with impunity, which in ordinary circumstances would destroy them. The experiments of Sir Charles Blagden and others, in heated ovens, are well known, and the performances of Chaubert are familiar to most of my readers. In these instances the immunity is owing to the aqueous exhalations from the surface of the body remaining undisturbed, and acting as a protecting shield. In like manner the Trichomanes lived for three years, in a window with a southern aspect, exposed continually to a heat which, without the glass, would have destroyed it in a single day. With respect to cold, the concurrent testimony of all arctic voyagers proves that no inconvenience is felt, even at 70° below zero, provided the air be perfectly still ; but, that if wind arose, although the thermometer generally rose rapidly with the wind, the cold
then became insupportable. We need not go to the Pole for illustrations of this fact. Every one has felt the difference between walking with his face or his back to one of our east winds in March, those winds which are often so destructive to vegetation in the open air, but have not the slightest effect on enclosed plants. I need not say anything respecting the change of air, as, from the contents of the preceding chapter, it must be obvious that as soon as any gas is generated within the case different to the atmosphere without, diffusion immediately commences, and no mode of closing the cases which I have adopted can prevent this from taking place.
As regards the cases in which these plants are grown, their shape or size may be adapted to the situations in which they are to be placed. The best cover for the smaller ones is, I think, the oiled silk of which bathingcaps are made, or thin sheet India-rubber. The frames of the larger cases should be well painted, and the laps so filled with putty as completely to exclude soot.
Do plants require water in these cases ? — is a question frequently asked. This depends not only upon the nature of the plants, but upon the season of their growth. Almost all ferns, if enclosed in small cases where the water cannot escape, will continue to flourish for years, and I believe that a century might elapse without any fresh water being required. Cactuses, and most succulent plants, would be equally independent. In larger houses, where the surfaces are very varied, the water will drain from the upper parts, and fresh supplies will occasionally be wanted. If we wish our plants to grow with greater or less luxuriance, we have of course, at all times, the power to give or withhold water. Numerous plants require to be well supplied with water up