The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Italian Floristry

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127.Florists' flowers, especially the bulbous kinds, do not succeed well in the dry warm climate of Italy. Fine varieties of the hyacinth, tulip, ranunculus, auricula, polyanthus, &c., are soon lost there, and are obliged to be renewed from more temperate countries. The Italians excel, however, in the culture of the tuberose, which forms an article of commerce at Genoa, as does the paper narcissus (N. orientals) at Naples. In roses, jasmines, oleanders, and oranges, they also excel; and also in most single flowers not natives of cold climates. Signor Villoresi, already mentioned, had, when we saw him in 1819, raised from seeds of the Bengal rose (Rosa indica), impregnated promiscuously with other roses, upwards of fifty distinct varieties, many of which were of great beauty, and very fragrant. In general, flowers and ornamental plants are most in demand, and are cultivated to the greatest degree of perfection, in Lombardy; of which the flowermarkets of Milan and Venice afford most gratifying proofs. Many of the Chinese, and New Holland, and some of the Cape trees and shrubs thrive, and blossom luxuriantly, in the open air in the warmer regions, as in S. de Nigro's garden at Genoa, and the gardens of Pisa and Caserta. Evelyn says, he saw at Florence, in 1664, a rose grafted on an orange tree; the same tricks are still played off with the rose, jasmine, oleander, myrtle, &c. at Genoa, and even in some parts of Lombardy. The following is the manner in which this trick is accomplished:�Take up an orange tree, shaking all the earth from its roots, and cutting off a few of its branches, not far from the main stem. From the places where the branches were cut off, bore holes through to the centre of the main stem. Next hollow out the main stem, from the root as high up as the highest amputated branch, taking care not to injure the bark or young wood. Then introduce through the root up the stem of the orange tree, small but rooted shoots, of any kind of shrub, and, by means of a piece of wire, pull them through at the different amputated parts, concealing the wound with green wax. Then plant, &c., and the whole will live at least a year or two. Cham�rops humilis is the only palm that can endure the winter in the open air at Florence. It also grows at Genoa. At Rome the date palm thrives in the open air. The common furze (U'lex) is cultivated as a shrub in the gardens of the Villa Panfili, and in other places near Rome and Florence. (Cadell's Travels, vol. i. p. 434.) Manetti says the Nelumbium flavum and speciosum are grown in the open air in the north of Lombardy; and that the Agave americana is naturalised on the rocks near the Lake of Como, where, instead of flowering only once in a hundred years, as is commonly alleged, it has flowered, and ripened seeds, in sixteen years.