Tuesday, July 25, 2017

1887 - Turkey Tangle Frogfruit!: #9 of Root's Bee Plants

OK, I'll confess, A. I. Root's seed list called it lipia nodelfolia. 

But when I read its alternative common names I could not resist Turkey Tangle Frogfruit! Sawtooth fogfruit (yes, fog...that is not a typo) and plain frogfruit aren't bad for interesting common names, but you have to admit Turkey Tangle Frogfruit wins :-)


I really like the looks of the plant.  The ring of white flowers climbing the bract are fun and look absolutely yummy from a honeybee's point of view, while the low foliage is a good ground cover or edging for a casual garden.  It is really for warmer zones, but I was wondering if I could treat it as an annual.  It is becoming the ground cover of choice in warmer places, working really well in urban areas as it does not need mowing and supports pollinators.   The blog, The Illustrated Plant Nut posted a nice piece on it focusing on how people deal with names.

Back to past opinions, my reading showed that the plant was heralded in 1891 as a ground cover of choice as well.  I wonder why it didn't become more common.  The University of Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station in 1891 was very enthusiastic reporting the plants did great in Tucson with only 2 inches of rain over 8 months!!  
Sibthrop, J., Smith, JE, Flora Graeca, Vol. 6: p. 43, t. 553 (1826)

I did not find any mention of it for bees before 1900, however.

The next report I read mentions it being fond in moist soils  (?? ) but also dry places. 

The Western Honey Bee: Devoted to the Interests of the Beekeepers, 1918, ...

Lippia (nodiflora), commonly called carpet grass or mat grass, is becoming a prominent honey plant along rivers and in low, overflowed land.
It is a low creeping plant, covering the ground with a dense mass of foliage, smothering out other weeds and grasses and gradually taking entire possession of the ground. When desired it can he destroyed by cultivation. It is being used along the river fronts to protect levees against erosion and is spreading slowly over much of the overflow country in these counties.
...
Lippia blooms from May until October, yielding a large amount of honey of good quality. It favors moist soil, but may be found growing on dry roadsides throughout the summer. Starts readily from cuttings except during cold weather.


Lippia nodiflora, mat grass or fog fruit, is native to California, and, according to Richter, is the principal source of surplus honey in the vicinity of Sacramento. Three-fourths of the surplus honey from Sutter County he reports as from this source. There it begins to bloom in May and lasts till frost. ... The honey is said to be light in color, mild in flavor, and to granulate readily.

American Honey Plants

Frank Chapman Pellett

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1838 - Mr. Cuthill's Advice on Sowing and Raising Mignonette in Pots



On the Culture of the Mignonette

By James Cuthill


MIGNONETTE is considered a very simple plant to grow, and so it is in fashion. We generally see it during winter; but a celebrated grower of forced flowers for Covent Garden told me that he never had but one really good crop of mignonette, and by it he made a good sum of money. 

After four winters' sowing, without the least failure, I consider my system established; and by it I have had, without the least variation, forced mignonettein flower by Christmas, and as strong as border mignonette. 

On the 20th of August, I sowed 100 pots of 32's, filled with the following compost: half sandy loam, the other half made up with leaf mould, and road sand, not sisted, but very dry when used, and pressed into the pots up to the brim. When the seeds are sown, a little of the compost is sifted over them. The pots are then put into a pit or frame, and set very near the glass. 

The lights are kept off at all times, except during rainy weather, when they are always put on; as, above all things, a drop of rain is never allowed to fall upon the pots, for several reasons. The first of these is, because rain is often very heavy, and washes the seed out of the pots; secondly, the rain is often too little, and only moistens the surface; and, thirdly, after the 1st of October, rain is too cold, and chills the plants. 

I water the plants with a very fine rose, and always twice over, but never until they are upon the point of flagging; and, after the 1st of October, I either warm the water, or use it out of the stove. I remove the mignonette to the front of the green-house, about the 1st of November, for fear of damps. 

If a succession is wanted, I cut down as many as may be necessary, about the middle of December; and these will make a better blooming and thicker pot of mignonette, than a second sowing, and will save trouble. 

In thinning, I leave only six or seven plants in each pot; five of them about 1 in. from the rim, and one or two in the centre. In order to show gardeners how wrong it is to let rain fall upon their frame plants during winter, I had two pots of mignonette put on the bare flue of an empty pit in November, giving them no water and no covering; and, upon the 1st of February, brought them into the green-house; and now (Feb. 5.) they are looking well. 

This speaks volumes: if mignonette will stand 30° of frost, merely because it is kept dry, what will cauliflowers, lettuce, radishes, &c., not stand 2 The above may appear a simple story to many; but I am obliged to be more particular with winter mignonette in pots, than with the finest stove plant. 
Dyrham Park Gardens, Feb. 6, 1838.

The Gardener's Magazine and Register of Rural & Domestic Improvement, Volume 4






Monday, July 17, 2017

1887 - Mignonette: #9 of Root's Bee Plants (with a charming history)

Reseda odorata

Mignonette, besides being a bee plant, has a fascinating history that includes a love story, chasing away headaches, and perfuming stinky neighborhoods.

As a beekeeper in Connecticut I am interested to see mignonette, while not a native, has naturalized.  Reseda odorata, Sweet Mignonette, is the escapee here, but one that has been long grown in gardens.  

A.I. Root comments it might not pay to grow it for pasturage for bees, but they do like it and it often blooms into October which honeybees appreciate.  He also mentions it is not sensitive to frost.

I was looking around for a source of seeds and found it first at The Shop: Monticello.

They comment:
"Mignonette was introduced to ornamental gardens in Europe about 1725, and because of its sweet fragrance both as a garden plant and as a cut flower, its popularity grew steadily on both sides of the Atlantic through the 19th century.  
Thomas Jefferson recorded sowing seeds for this annual at Monticello in 1811. The tiny, pale green and white flowers emit a fresh, fruity scent in summer and are attractive to bees and butterflies."
The photo below is from their seed. 







The Vermont Wildflower Farm catalog adds a great suggestion, saying that grown in a pot for a sunny windowsill mignonette is a  delight.  What a nice scent to come home to on a sunny porch!

However, getting focused on what people thought of it back in the 19th century I found a wonderful article from The Floricultural Cabinet of Joseph Harrison, a "Florist's Magazine" from 1849.



Step, E., Bois, D., Favourite flowers of garden and greenhouse



MIGNONETTE.—RESEDA ODORATA.



It is only one age since this fragrant weed of Egypt first perfumed the European gardens, yet it has so far naturalized itself to our climate as to spring from seeds of its own scattering, and thus' convey its delightful odour from the parterre of the prince to the most humble garden of the cottager.

In less than another age we predict (without the aid of Egyptian art) that the children of our peasants will gather this luxurious little plant amongst the wild flowers of our hedge-rows.

The Reseda Odorata first found its way to the south of France, where it was welcomed by the name of Mignonette, Little-darling, which was found too appropriate for this sweet little flower to be exchanged for any other. 

By a manuscript note in the library of the late Sir Joseph Banks, it appears that the seed of


the Mignonette was sent in 1742, by Lord Bateman, from the Royal Garden at Paris, to Mr. Richard Bateman, at Old Windsor; but we should presume that this seed was not dispersed, and perhaps not cultivated beyond Mr. Bateman's garden, as we find that Mr. Miller received the seed from Dr. Adrian van Royen, of Leyden, and cultivated it in the Botanic Garden at Chelsea, in the year 1752. 

From Chelsea it soon got into the gardens of the London florists, so as to enable them to supply the metropolis with plants to furnish out the balconies, which is noticed by Cowper, who attained the age of twenty-one in the year that this flower first perfumed the British atmosphere by its fragrance. The author of the Task soon afterwards celebrates it as a favourite plant in London—
"the sashes fronted with a rangeOf orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed."

The odour which this little flower exhales is thought by some, whose olfactories are delicate, to be too powerful for the house, but even those persons we presume must be delighted by the fragrance which it throws from the balconies into the streets of London, giving something like a breath of garden air to the " close-pent man," whose avocations will not permit a ramble beyond the squares of the fashionable part of the town. 

To such it must be a luxurious treat to catch a few ambrosial gales on a summer's evening from the heated pavement, where offensive odours are but too frequently met with, notwithstanding the good regulations for cleansing the streets and the natural cleanliness of the inhabitants in general. We have frequently found the perfume of the Mignonette so powerful in some of the better streets of London, that we have considered it sufficient to protect the inhabitants from those effluvia which bring disorders in the air. 


The perfume of Mignonette in the streets of our metropolis reminds us of the fragrance from the roasting of coffee in many parts of Paris, without which some of their streets of business in that city would scarcely be endurable in the rainy season of the year.

The Sweet Reseda or Mignonette is now said to grow naturally in some parts of Barbary, as well as in Egypt. Monsieur Desfontaiues observed it growing in the sands near Mascar in the former country, but it might have been accidentally scattered there, or have escaped from the gardens of the Moors.

This genus of plants, of which we have twelve species, was named Reseda by the ancients, from resedare to assuage, because some of the species were esteemed good for mitigating pains; and we learn from Pliny, that the Reseda was considered to possess even the power of charming away many disorders. He tells us, that it grew near the city of Ariminum, now Rimini in Italy, and that when it was used to resolve swellings, or to assuage inflammations, it was the custom to repeat the following words, thrice spitting on the ground at each repetition :—

"Reseda, cause these maladies to cease: knowest thou, knowest thou, who hath driven these pullets here? Let the roots have neither head nor foot."

We notice these absurd superstitions of the ancients, which are scarcely yet extinct in many 
country villages of this and other countries, to show how much the minds of the ignorant have always been prone towards the marvellous, and not that we "Hold each strange tale devoutly true."

Although it is so short a time since the Sweet Reseda has been known in Europe, we find that it has crept into the armorial bearings of an illustrious family of Saxony; and, as Cupid does not so frequently bestow honours of heraldry as his father Mars, we cannot avoid relating the romantic tale which introduced this fragrant and modest little flower to the Pursuivant-at-Arms.

The Romantic Story

The Count of Walsthim was the declared lover and intended spouse of Amelia de Nordbourg, a young lady possessing all the charms necessary for the heroine of a modern novel, excepting that she took delight in creating little jealousies in the breast of her destined husband. 

As the beautiful Amelia was an only child of a widowed mother, a female cousin, possessing but few personal charms, and still less fortune, had been brought up with her from infancy as a companion, and as a stimulus to her education. The amiable and humble Charlotte was too insignificant to attract much attention in the circles in which her gay cousin shone with so much splendour, which gave her frequent opportunities of dispensing a part of that instruction she had received to the more humble class of her own sex. 

(Warning: LONG sentence...)
Returning from one of these charitable visits, and entering the gay saloon of her aunt, where her entry or exit was now scarcely noticed, she found the party amused in selecting flowers, whilst the Count and the other beaux were to make verses on the choice of each of the ladies. Charlotte was desired to make her selection of a flower; the sprightly Amelia had taken a Rose; others a Carnation, a Lily, or the flowers most likely to call forth compliment; and the delicate idea of Charlotte in selecting the most humble flower, by placing a sprig of Mignonette in her bosom, would probably have passed unnoticed, had not the flirtation of her gay cousin with a dashing colonel, who was more celebrated for his conquests in the drawing-room than in the field of battle, attracted the notice of the Count, so as to make his uneasiness visible; upon which the amiable Charlotte, who, ever studious of Amelia's real happiness, wishing to amuse and to call back the mind of her cousin, demanded the verse for the Rose. 
The Count saw this affectionate trait in Charlotte's conduct, took out his pencil, and wrote for the Rose,

"Elle ne vit qu'un jour, et ne plait qu'un moment,"
"She only saw one day, and only enjoyed a moment,"

which he gave to the lovely daughter, at the same time presenting the humble cousin with this line on the Mignonette :—

"Ses qualites surpassent ses charmes."

Amelia's pride was roused, and she retaliated by her attention to the colonel and neglect of the Count, which she carried so far as to throw herself into the power of a profligate, who brought her to ruin. The Count transferred his affections from beauty to amiability; and rejoicing in the exchange, and to commemorate the event which had brought about his happiness, and delivered him from a coquette, he added a branch of the Sweet Reseda to the ancient arms of his family, with the motto,

"Your qualities surpass your charms."

The Mignonette is one of the plants whose unassuming little flowers never weary our sight; it is therefore made the image of those interesting persons whom time cannot change, and who, although deficient in dazzling beauty, attach us for life, when once they have succeeded in pleasing without its aid. 

—Flora Historica.
Flora Historica is a small book with a big name - 
Flora historica, or, The three seasons of the British parterre historically and botanically treated : with observations on planting, to secure a regular succession of flowers, from the commencement of spring to the end of autumn : to which are added, the most approved methods of cultivating bulbous and other plants, as practised by the most celebrated florists of England, Holland, and France

The above article on mignonette was taken, in part,  from Flora Historica by the Florist'd Magazine.

Friday, July 14, 2017

1887 - Honeypea: #8 of Root's Bee Plants

The honeypea is a cowpea which is a bean.  A large variety of useful types, bush and vine, make it a popular legume in warm climates.  Black-eyed peas are cowpeas.  It took me a while to work all that out.

I have looked around the web and find beekeepers think it makes a good light honey.  Not all beans are cowpeas, though, so you can't assume a field of beans will attract bees.



The Bee Journal commented:

The bloom of the cowpea is of such formation that the proboscis of the hive-bee is too short to reach down to the nectaries; but just beneath the bloom are a number of little glands that secrete a sweet substance that is largely sought after by the bees. I have seen them work on it from morning to night.

In 1920 Frank Chapman uses testimonials in his American Honey Plants: Together with Those which are of Special Value to the Beekeeper as Sources of Pollen:

The cowpea is widely cultivated in the warmer regions of the old world and in our own Southern States. It is grown for forage and for green manure. The plant is more closely related to the beans than to the peas. 

R. A. Nestor reports that it yields freely in east Texas, and where planted in sufficient acreage yields surplus. The honey is very dark in color, but of mild flavor, according to his report. 

 
The nectar from cowpeas is secreted by extra floral nectaries and beekeepers are often mystified because the bees are working at the "joints" instead of on the flowers. Some report that bees gather nectar from the flowers, also. 

The following reports indicate the value in different localities: 

"There is no finer honey plant than the cowpea, while it lasts, but it blooms only about a week. During this time, if the weather is fair, the bees swarm over the fields from early morn till dewey eve."
—J.D. Rowan, Tupelo, Miss. Gleanings, Sept. 15, 1909. 

"The cowpea is one of our most abundant sources of honey for late summer. The crop is planted here from May 1 to August 1, and furnishes nectar through a considerable period of otherwise scarcity. Unlike other plants, the stems, and not the blossoms, secrete the nectar as the young pods are forming. These the bees work upon excessively. The honey is of good body, thick, deep, approaching dark yellow in color, and of strong taste like that of tulip-poplar, only stronger, with a somewhat slight, wild-green-bean-like flavor."
—C. C. Gettys, Hollis, N. C. Gleanings, Sept. 14, 1909. 

"A small patch of peas was covered with bees from morning till night. Nearly all of them were working on the stalks, as usual; but here and there I saw a few Italians pushing their tongues down into the blossoms. I have never noticed any pollen from the field peas."
— Mrs. Ameda Ellis, Fremont, Mo. Gleanings, June 1, 1910. 

"The peas bloom when there is a honey dearth and the bees gather honey from them. However, I notice they do not work on them much if there is a better honey plant blooming at the same time. My bees get a good deal of nice honey from them."
—G. H. Latham, Jr., Rapidan, Va. Gleanings, May 15, 1910.
Below a bumble is nectaring on those floral nectaries at make the cowpea family useful to beekeepers.
source

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

1887 - Motherwort: #7 of Root's Bee Plants


Motherwort would take over my garden if I let it. 


It self seeds with abandon.  I don't mind as it is easy to pull, and, if you let it be, it looks good!  The current CT data reports it attracts bumblebees like mad...34 contacts per minute...but did not mention  honeybees. 


My bees do like it, but not with noticeably greater than average enthusiasm.  But then again, they did not show much enthusiasm for borage!  (They do flock to anise hyssop, and, for one day only, covered my giant Cow Parsnip.)  

A. I. Root sold motherwort seeds in his honey plant section in his 1887 seed catalog.


Back to motherwort,  Root talks about it in the ABC of Bee Culture, 1882.
Motherwort (Leonurus Cardiaca)  - Quite a number of the bee folks insist that
motherwort is superior, as a honey plant, to either catnip, hoarhound, balm, wild bergamot, or any of the large family of Labiate, and I presume such may be the case under some circumstances, or in favorable localities.   
In comparing plants, it should be remembered, that those usually bear much honey may, at times, furnish none at all; and also those which usually furnish none may, under very favorable circumstances, yield largely."  
This plant often flourishes about fence corners, and around the ruins of old dwellings, sheds, or even hog pens. The large leaf, taken by itself, much resembles the currant; the stalk is much like catnip; and the little flowers are in tufts, close to the stalk. It remains in blossom a long time, and may be as worthy of cultivation, as any of the plants of its class.
In 1853 Moses Quinby's Mysteries of Bee-keeping Explained: Being a Complete Analysis of the Whole Subject is the first book I could find in a simple online search which mentions motherwort as a bee plant.      
Catnip (Nepeta Cataria), Motherwort (Leonurus Cardiaca), and Hoarhound (Marrubium Vulgare) about the middle of June, put forth their flowers, rich in sweetness, and like the raspberry, the bees visit them at all hours and in nearly all kinds of weather. They last from four to six weeks; the catnip I have known to last twelve in a few instances, yielding honey during the whole time.
After 1860 it is mentioned often.  Keep in mind people tended to copy each others published opinions, so a great deal of this MIGHT be copycat behavior, not a sudden noticing that motherwort is attracting tons of bees.  On the other hand the public's awareness of the economic possibilities of beekeeping was blossoming then, so folks were keeping an eye out for

Here is an 1865 report that sounds good from The Bee-keeper's Guide: Or Manual of the Apiary by Albert John Cook.

MOTHERWORT AS A HONEY PLANT.

(Leonurus cardiaca L.)

Perhaps none of our common herbs promises better, as a honey plant, than the one-in question. It is a very hardy 
Fig. 114.
perennial, and once introduced in waste places, it is sure to hold its own, until it becomes desirable to extirpate it, when, at man's bidding, it quickly lets go its hold, so that it is not a dangerous plant to introduce. The blossoms appear at this place about June 25th, and persist for a full month, and during the entire time are crowded with bees, whatever may be the character of the weather, whether wet or dry, warm or cool, whether the plant is in the midst of honey plants or isolated. We are thus assured that the plant is constantly secreting nectar, and is also a favorite with bees. Rape, mustards and borage seem indifferent to the weather, but are not favorites with the bees. Motherwort, then, has three admirable qualities: It is long in bloom, the flowers afford fine honey at all times, and it is a favorite with the bees.


Fig. 115.


If it could be made to bloom about three weeks later, coming in just after basswood, it would have nearly all the desired qualities. I think that we might bring this about by mowing the plants in May. I am led to this opinion from the fact that some plants which we set back by transplanting in May, are still in bloom this August 10th, and are now alive with bees, dividing their attention with the beautiful cleome, which is now in full bloom, and fairly noisy with bees




Fig. 116.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PLANT.
The stalk is square (Fig. 114),'branching, and when cultivated, attains a height of some four feet; though, as it grows in waste places, it is seldom more than three feet. 

The branches, and also the leaves, are opposite (Figs. 114 and 115), and in the axils of the latter are whorls of blossoms (Figs. 115 and 116), which succeed each other from below to the top of the branching stems. 

The corolla is like that of all the mints, while the calyx has five teeth, which are sharp ands pine-like in the nutlets as they appear at the base of the leaves (Fig. 115). As they near the top, the whorls of blossoms and succeeding seeds are successively nearer together, and finally become very crowded at the apex (Fig. 116). 

The leaves are long and palmately lobed (Fig. 115). 
The small blossom is purple.


(My observation on the plant is that the seeds, (nutlets) are sharp!!!  Use gloves when pulling a plant with dry seed heads.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

1917 - Sketch of Woman Gardening by Alice Barber Stephens

First, enjoy the texture of Alice Barber Stephens sketch!











Alice Barber Stephens usually focused on more urban or formal setting for her women, but the charming sketch above of a woman in her garden breaks the pattern.  

It is the only garden work theme I found in her works online....not even a snipping flowers for a bouquet sketch!

Link: 
Art Essay: Alice Barber Stephens: Emerging Ways of Living & Working by Rena Tobey

Saturday, June 17, 2017

1896 - The "Marchioness of Bute" Dahlia Litho

It must be the litho dots.  I am just attracted to them.  
Below is the Marchioness.  She was featured on the 1896 John Gardiner & Co. catalog.



I had not encountered any of John Gardiner's catalogues before this week.  They are not especially noteworthy as they lack the over-the-top charm or vegetable enthusiasm that I prize. 



However,  one of them is rather different and is worth sharing.
Not very appealing, but a lot of work went into this earlier 1890 catalog.

 

Victorian jardinieres are so ugly they are almost cute.

Monday, June 12, 2017

1896 - Part Three: Summary of Whittrock's "A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES"


This is the final part of Whittrock's article.  





The two previous installments, with delightful illustrations, are:

  • 1896 - Part One: Whittrock's "A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES"
  • 1896 - Part Two: Whittrock's "A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES"





A CONTRIBUTION TO THE  HISTORY OF PANSIES. 
(Continued) 

SUMMARY.


AS the chief result of our investigations, we see that the Pansies of the present day form an aggregate of very different forms of plants produced by hybridisation between various species of the genus Viola (sect. Melanium). 

Their original stock was V. tricolor, L., but several other kindred species of Viola have been crossed thereon, and one among them, Viola lutea, Huds., to such a degree that it has probably had a larger share in the production of the Pansies of the present day than V. tricolor. Thus in their entirety they cannot exactly be compared to what in systematic botany is termed species or variety. 

They certainly should not be called by a name formed according to the rules of binary nomenclature. If a general Latin name seems desirable, I should propose Viola x hortenses grandiflorze, when “ x " signifies the hybrid nature of the forms belonging hereto; the word “hortenses” that they are garden plants; and the Word “grandiflorze,” that they are large-flowering; this to distinguish them from the small-flowering garden Violas of the type of Viola odorata, L.

On comparing the Pansies of the present day with their wild ancestors, we shall find that as regards form, the most conspicuous characteristic of the Pansy flower is that its cross diameter is almost the same as its long diameter, or that it is nearly circular, while in the parent species the flower is constantly much longer than it is broad. The large cross diameter of the Pansy flower is a consequence of an excessive development, more especially of the middle petals. It not unfrequently happens that these petals are the largest, which is never the case in the parent species.

As regards the spur, the Pansies generally follow the short-spurred parent species, Viola tricolor, L., V. lutea, Huds., and V. altaica, Ker. Only a very few Pansies are longspurred,‘ these showing their descent from some of the long-spurred V. cornuta, L., V. calcarata, L. (or V. stricta, Dicksons 8; Co.).

In respect to colouring, Pansies show a far greater variety and wealth than all the parent species, whatever variety of colour a couple of these may present. There is scarcely any colour or shade—with the exception of green, which is so unusual a colour in flowers—that it is not represented in one variety of Pansy or the other. Selfs are white, yellow, red, violet, blue, brown, and black. The colours most difficult of production for the Pansy-raisers are pure blue and pure red. There are now, however, blue Pansies of several kinds. Clear reds in fiery-red and blood-red are still a desideratum. 


 Many-coloured Pansies, as is well known, exist of almost innumerable kinds. That which is common to nearly all of them —but is not found in the parent species of the Pansy—is the large dark blotch at the base of the three lower petals. These blotches are evidently derived from the dark rays of the wild ancestors of the Pansy.

Whatever variety of colour the Pansy may show, one part of the flower is always of the same colour, viz., the so-called eye, or that part of thelowest petal, which is immediately in front of the entrance to the spur. This eye, called by botanists the honeyguide, is always bright yellow, and is the same in all Pansies, even in selfs. This yellow spot, which is the guiding star to insects when visiting the flowers— which is of such great importance for the fertilisation -—seems to have reached such a degree of resistance to all the changes of outer life that it will not give way to anything.

The same seems to be the case as regards the colour of the spur, as in all Pansies which I have had the opportunity of examining—even the pure white, pure yellow, &c.—the spur, at any rate towards the tip, is coloured with violet of a lighter or darker shade.  Why the violet colour so perseveringly remains through all circumstances on this limited spot, is not easy to explain. It is probable that it serves as a kind of protection for the honey contained in the upper part of the spur.

Finally, let us see what problems are still to be solved by the Pansy-raisers in the immediate future.

Foremost amongst those we must place the question of making the Pansies perennial instead of annual or biennial. A remarkable step in this direction has already been taken by the English and Scotch Pansy-raisers, who, with very good results, have used the perennial V. cornuta, L., for crossing with garden Pansies. Much. however, still remains to be done. Those species of Viola most suitable for Pansy hybridization are undoubtedly V. calcarata, L., and V. altaica, Ker, as. both have a very powerfully developed perennial stem, have large and beautiful flowers. and can both of them without any difficulty be cultivated in our gardens. Another species that deserves recognition is Viola latisepala, Wettstein, lately introduced into our gardens from the Balkan peninsula, a perennial species which, on being cultivated here, has evidently thriven remarkably well.

Next to obtaining perennial Pansies, we must place the aim of producing good varieties that come true from seed. In many places these attempts have been crowned with tolerable success, more especially in respect to the selfs ; but very much still remains to be done.

No pains have been spared of late by the Pansy cultivators of Great Britain to increase the charm of the Pansy by obtaining perfume as well as beauty; but by a more extensive use of the odoriferous alpine species. Viola cornuta, L., and V. lutea, Huds., var. grandiflora (L.). Vill., for hybridisation, doubtless much may still be done in this direction.

Probably in direct opposition to most Pansy-raisers, I consider it most desirable to obtain more variety as regards the form of the corolla of thePansy. For sixty years the Pansy cultivators have almost unanimously endeavoured to make the corolla of the flower as circular as possible; and it is undeniable that the corolla type obtained by these means, and now reigning almost supreme, is beautiful —ay, very beautiful; but this fact does not prevent other forms of tho corolla from being as attractive to the eye that has learnt to admire those products which Nature herself offers us.

As in a wild state Viola tricolor, L., produces pelorias both with and devoid of spurs, the raising of Pansies of a similar structure should not present insurmountable difficulties. A similar form has long been under cultivation from V. odorata, L.   If, in addition to this, we remember the existing forms of the double Pansies which, by suitable cultivation, may doubtless be greatly improved, it seems to me that it is very probable that our gardens will be in time adorned with Pansies which give the impression of wealth and variety, not only as regards colour, but also in respect to form. .

At all events, it may in truth be said that—even if only remembering what has already been done--the garden Pansies plainly prove what hum1n intelligence, coupled with skillful perseverance, can perform in a department where it is a question of giving pleasure to millions by caring for, improving, and multiplying plastic forms of these lovely plants which Nature, even in the North, so generously offers us. 

Professor V. B. Wittrock, Stockholm.

1888 - A Victorian Idyll, Storrs & Harrison Catalog

Storrs & Harrison, the nursery and seedsmen from Painesville, Ohio had extremely plain catalogs for most of their history.  For a few years, though, they gave color a shot on their covers, usually having these vignettes as part of the design.  

This is the back cover of the 1888 issue.

detail from Storrs & Harrison Catalog, 1888


back cover Storrs & Harrison Catalog, 1888

Thursday, June 8, 2017

To-Die-For Litho Columbine Seed Packet from Toronto

Be still my heart...I love this one.  
I have not found many packets for the Steele Bros., Toronto. They are an old company.  I think I found a 19th century reference to them.
There were two more packets but my computer ate them.











Wednesday, June 7, 2017

1896 - Part Two: Whittrock's "A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES"

This second part of V. B. Wittrock's article ... 


A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES. 

(Continued)

IN the thirties, one of the favourite flowers of the English was the Pansy, which competed with the Rose itself for popular favour. Both distinguished amateurs and talented nurserymen devoted themselves to the cultivation of the Pansy, and gained one success after another. The English horticultural societies offered prizes for the finest flowers. Every nobleman, every owner of an estate wished to have their special collection of Pansies, and the nurserymen, who were well rewarded for their pains, did everything they could to keep alive the interest of the public by constantly producing new varieties. 







In the middle of the thirties (1830s) the price for new and good varieties was 5s. a plant, and for specially excellent ones a far higher price was paid; £10 was offered for the seedling of “Metropolitan”, and refused.

Those varieties raised from 1820 to 1836 certainly possessed larger and more brilliantly-coloured flowers than their wild ancestors, but as regards the form of the flower no change was made, it being still more or less elongated in the same way as in the wild Viola tricolor, L., or V. lutea, Huds.    

During the latter half of the thirties, however, a change took place, as, dating from 1836, the first object of the British Pansy raiser  was to get the flowers as circular as possible (fig. 122).







In The Floricultural Cabinet and Florists' Magazine of the above-mentioned year, this quality is described as more to be desired than all others, and but a couple of years elapsed before this ideal was attained. The magazine just mentioned of 1838 and 1839 contained several figures representing new varieties of Pansies, and among these we find at least two, viz., Ne Plus Ultra and J. Burley's Lord Durham, the flowers of which were almost perfectly circular.

In the beginning of the forties the interest for Pansies rose to such a pitch that special 
horticultural societies were formed solely devoted to this plant.

The Hammersmith Heartsease Society held its first Pansy show in 1841, and continued them for a long course of years.  At the present time (1893) it has been succeeded by a society having the same objects in view, called the London Pansy and Viola Society.  In 1845 the Scottish Pansy Society was formed in Edinburgh, which has shown such vitality, that from that day till now it has continued its activity with great success.

By these two Pansy societies, formed in the forties, certain demands were made on the 
Pansy flowers, which were to be complied with before the flower could obtain a prize at the shows. 

The principal demands were:
  1.  The flowers should be circular.
  2.  The petals should be even, thick, and velvety.
  3.  The colour should be either uniform (selfs), or else but two (belted flowers).

But besides these, several other requirements were enumerated, and, curious to relate, these demands were fully realized in a large number of varieties raised at that time.  Indeed, for about twenty years these show Pansies reigned almost supreme in Britain. All other varieties produced by the Pansy-raisers were discarded and ruthlessly destroyed.

The effects of this partiality in time, of course, became apparent. However interested the British public might be in the charming flowers of the forties, it must at last become evident that the numerous so-called new varieties continually appearing were, in fact, but a constant repetition of the five well-known types.  The need of a change in this respect began to be more and more obvious.

Salvation then came to this lovely English flower from France and Belgium in the form of an 
entirely new class of Pansies, viz., the so-called Belgian or fancy Pansies. Here we find just what is wanting in the show Pansy, viz., great variety of colouring, the brilliant colours being prevalent, and a distribution of colour not only according to the old well-known scheme, but also on a number of others that agreeably appeal to our inherent love of beauty.

In the early thirties the English Pansy was introduced into France, and was there cultivated

by skillful horticulturists, who took great pains in further improving it. Among these Pansy-raisers let me mention Miellez of Lille, and James Odier, the owner of Bellevue Castle(this is an amazing recent story of the building) near Paris.  From the latter come the Odier Pansies, remarkable for the enormous development of  the blotches on the three lower petals, which is so characteristic of the fancy Pansies of the present day, and specially for those belonging to the Cassier, Bugnot, and Trimardeau classes.

In Belgium they also strove to improve the English Pansies in the thirties, and partly in the same way as in France, without regard to the laws of beauty laid down in England.

The French fancy Pansies were brought before the English public in the early fifties by John Salter, but gained scarcely any approval.  By the prejudiced English they were dubbed “French rubbish",  and it was only in 1858 to 1860 that the interest of the British public was aroused by a whole series of brilliant French forms of Pansies chiefly imported from the florist previously mentioned, Miellez of Lille.

These fancy Pansies were cultivated by eminent horticulturists in the north of England and 
southern Scotland, where the centre of the cultivation of Pansies had been removed in the latter half of the fifties, in consequence of a destructive disease which had laid waste numerous Pansy grounds in southern England.  New and splendid forms were now raised in great numbers, more especially by the activity of William Dean of Shipley, and Downie, Laird and Laing of Edinburgh, and in time these Pansies became so general and popular, that in 1871  The Scottish Pansy Society decided to offer prizes for this class of Pansies at their shows.  Special rules of beauty were fixed which the judges had to follow when considering the several merits of the fancy Pansies on exhibition.

But now—as in former times with the English show Pansies—it happened that the limitations outside which it was deemed there could be no beauty, were far too narrow. 
The perfectly-circular form of the flowers was still one of the chief demands, the edges of the petals were to be without waviness or unevenness of any kind, and—most remarkable of all no other Pansies than those provided with large blotches were entitled to a prize as fancy Pansies.  

This last rule has certainly greatly contributed to the fact that, in spite of their varying colours, the fancy Pansies have a tinge of monotony about them.  The large dark blotch is seen everywhere, and in many cases this blotch is so large that it almost covers the entire surface of the flower (fig. 123). The general public has shown broader views in their ideal of beauty; and doubtless this is the cause why the fancy Pansies are being superseded by the far more unassuming but more natural bedding Pansies and the tufted Pansies or Violas.
Fig.123


 
BEDDING PANSIES.

The bedding Pansies are characterized by flowers of a smaller size, but at the same time they flower more richly and longer than the typical fancy Pansies, and have their lower growth and are more branched. By these peculiarities they are specially adapted for the production of numerous flowers, and make particularly pleasing beds, and it is from this fact they have their name. The original bedding Pansies Were direct descendants of the fancy Pansies, and, as a general rule, bedding Pansies are but richly flowering, more dwarf-like fancy Pansies.

The tufted Pansies or Violas have essentially another origin. They are derived from the English Viola lutea, Huds., as also from the Pyrenean fragrant V. cornuta, L., both crossed with garden Pansies. 

Their characteristics are: 
  • a more perennial habit ; 
  • a tufted growth; 
  • smaller flowers which are not circular, and 
  • generally spread an agreeable perfume.
Cross-breeding has undoubtedly always played a great Idle in the production of new forms of pansies, but in most cases without any plan, insects crossing varieties cultivated near each other. The horticulturists have simply made their selection among the numerous forms which have arisen as a result of this crossing performed by Nature herself. The tufted Pansies, on the other hand, have chiefly to thank for their existence Pansy-raisers, who themselves undertook the hybridization.      James Grieve of Edinburgh, in 1862 and 1863, crossed Viola lutea from the Scottish hills with the ordinary show Pansies of that time; and about the same time William Dean began working in a similar way in the north of England.

From these and similar hybridizations not a few of the tufted Pansies are derived, more especially those in which yellow is the prevailing colour.  Viola cornuta, L., has played a still more important part than V. lutea.  Dating from 1863 it has been used by different Pansy-raisers for crossing with varieties of dark Pansies in particular. 
Thus, in 1867, Dicksons & Co. of Edinburgh produced the, relatively speaking, large flowering dark purple Vanguard, concerning which it is stated that it is derived from hybridizing V. cornuta, as female, with a dark purple Pansy as male flower. About this time B. S. Williams of Holloway sent out his noted Viola cornuta Perfection, and somewhat later the fragrant Sensation. These and other hybrids of V. cornuta were afterwards used for further hybridization with suitable Pansy varieties; and by these means—more especially thanks to Dicksons & Co. and to Dr. Charles Stuart, of Hillside—a considerable number of new varieties of tufted Pansies were raised in the seventies. 

During the last two decades a most interesting kind of tufted Pansy has been raised, viz., the Rayless Violas, which have flowers of but one colour, free from the ordinary dark rays or streaks, whence their name. The first time I find any mention made of them is in 1881, when in The Garden Wm. Robinson related that at Laing's of Stanstead Park Nurseries, he saw two kinds of such Pansies (Hybrida tribe and Golden Queen of Spring). Not until the very last years of the eighties did they become more widely known. 

Then appeared Charles Stuart's well-known Violetta, a very small-flowering almost pure-white fragrant tufted Pansy, the product of a cross between Viola cornuta, L, as the female parent, and the Pansy Blue King as the male plant. Dr. Stuart lays special stress on the fact that in hybridization with V. cornuta it should be used as the female, and thePansy chosen for the occasion as the male plant, if a progeny be desired resembling V. cornuta as regards perfume and perennial duration. Violetta has in turn produced a numerous offspring (among others, the celebrated Sylvia), which, together with other rayless tufted Pansies, play an important part in the shows of the Scottish and English Pansy societies.

Besides the species of Violas already mentioned, in very rare cases Viola calcarata, L., has been used for the improvement of the Pansy.

Viola calcarata Vill. [as Viola zoysii Wulfen]
From Dicksons & Co, of Edinburgh, a statement has reached me that Viola stricta has been used for the same purpose (Ariel, stricta alba, Indiana, etc., are said to be derived from this species; but it is evident that this Viola stricta cannot be the Viola stricta of the botanists.

Dicksons & Co. declare that their Viola stricta is an Indian species.  In consequence of this statement, I wrote to the author of the Flora of British India, Sir Joseph Hooker, concerning the matter, and in reply, he says, "There is certainly no Indian species remotely even allied to the cultivated Pansies."

It has been mentioned above that a. double Pansy was known even to Parkinson, the old English writer on horticulture (1629).  In the present century double Pansies have now and again made their appearance, among which the most known is probably Good Gracious, a variety which was cultivated largely in Ireland and Great Britain in the middle of our century, and “Lord Waverley" from the Hale Farm Nurseries, near London, in 1876.

Into Germany the English Pansies were introduced during the thirties, but it was not until the fifties and sixties that the German Pansy-raisers began to produce new varieties. As an instance, let me mention Negerfurst, the product in 1861 of careful selection made year after year by C. Schwanecke of Oschersleben, and Kaiser Wilhelm, introduced about 1872 by Chr. Lorenz of Erfurt. At the present day the German cultivation of Pansies ranks very high.

The northern limit of the Pansy is attained in Norway where it has been cultivated with perfect success in several places in the arctic region, in East Finmark at 69º or 70º north latitude.

(to be continued with a summary)