Saturday, September 13, 2014

Watermelon Seed Packets...Poetry with Seeds

Oh! it’s wortermelon time is a-comin’ round ag’in,
And they ain’t no man a-livin’ any tickelder’n me,
Fer the way I hanker after wortermelons is a sin—
Which is the why and wharefore, as you can plainly see.
                                                        James Whitcomb Riley 1922
Entire wonderful poem at end of post...

Cuban Queen, Dixie, Florida Favorite,  Kleckley's Sweet,  Kolb's Gem, Stone Mountain, Florida Giant, Tom Watson,  Tom Watson Improved,  Dixie Queen,  Georgia Rattlesnake...all promises of summer.

1895 - POEMS from AMERICA

"Literature ought to keep open house, and her progress is towards this desirable state of affairs, though there was a time when the stranger in England found it somewhat hard to obtain a hearing, chiefly because he came from afar, and could be so easily disregarded. 

But all this is changed —so much changed that when the polished Bushman from the fringes of the Kalahari desert, or the educated Maori, or the Pawnee versed in belleslettres, produces the inevitable epic, room will be found in the English papers for praise or blame, for the tendency of to day is to know the best, and even the worst, of what is foreign.

 When a singer sends us melodies across the sea it is a delightful accident if they have a sweet appeal, since there is no pleasure like that of behaving as a good host to a good guest. Here is Mr. Stanton asking for our vote. He need not ask twice, for indeed it is a small thing to give as a thank-offering for so few as a couple of his fragrant ditties. Are you not won immediately by this melon song?"

~ The Georgia Melon ~ 
Songs of the Soil. By Frank L. Stanton
Oh, the Georgia watermelon—it's a-growin'
cool an' green,
An'll soon be pullin' heavy at the stem;
An' the knife—it needs a whettin', an' the
blade is gettin' keen.
Oh, the Georgia watermelon is a gem I
Melons cool an' green—
Jest the best you ever seen!
Soe the sweet juice drippin'
From them melons cool an' green!
Oh, the Georgia watermelon—with the
purtiest sort o' stripe!
It ain't a streak o' fat an' streak o' lean; 
You thump her with your fingers, an' yon hear her answer,' Ripe! Oh, the Georgia watermelon cool an' green!
This poem went on forever....

Friday, September 12, 2014

Watermelon = Summer

In spite of wearing a watermelon slice on her head on this cigarette card, Rose was a much respected actress.  Rose Coghlan.

I love this next illustration!



< 1889

Remember triffids?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Modern Suppliers of Hollyhock - The Winner Is...

The winner for modern hollyhock selections is Swallowtail Garden Seeds with 32 varieties of hollyhock seeds,  if you count (and I do) hybrids and species besides Alcea rosea.

Swallowtail Garden Seeds include  Alcea rosea, A. ficifolia, A. rugosa, and A. pallida in the hollyhock section.  There are some beauties!!
From Swallowtail Gardens Seeds is this, Mars Magic >
BTW - Is Photoshop used here?  Something is odd.  I like the form.

There may be a larger selection somewhere but I did not find it.  I have never ordered from them as I just found their marvelous selection.

But Park Seeds has 14 varieties, with some really good ones!

It is all a matter of taste after all.  

< This is their Halo Apricot Hollyhock Seeds.

The Shop at Monticello gets high marks for the information they supply with their seeds however. This black hollyhock had the following description.  
"Black Hollyhock was described as early as 1629 by John Parkinson, as being "of a darke red like black blood," an apt description for the large single flowers that grace this plant in June and July. The Boston nurseryman, John B. Russe, offered seeds of "Black antwerp hollyhock: Althea nigra" in a forty-two-page catalogue published in 1827."

The Seedsman  does well, too, although for me there are too many doubles.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hollyhock Selections Getting Better! - 1895, 1900, 1902 and so on

For whatever reason, things are picking up somewhat as the turn of the century approaches. From just one offering in the 1895 James Vick catalog above, to more than a dozen in the Peter Henderson  1899 catalog it started to become easier to find at least 4 or 5 varieties in most all catalogs.

Henderson's varieties are approaching the pre-rust numbers...but without the lovely or interesting names.

Tokio, black with a white edge sounds really nice!!  It is the only named variety.

 This selection from Miss Martha Hizer in 1900 isn't as impressive, but at least we are beyond no choice at all.

And her catalog cover features hollyhocks!

1902 brings an ad featuring hollyhocks and a variety of forms.

1902 did not bring more choices to Hizer...but they did have a new engraving.

This is 1904, Ferry is doing pretty well here.

1905...another featured ad from Henderson.

1907...just an ad.

Uh-oh.  Only one in Maule in 1908.

Miss Emma White has an OK selection in 1911.  Check out the engraving she uses in the catalog. Look familiar?  I can't really read the date on the artwork but it sure looks like 1895.  Hollyhock generic catalog cut.

From what I have read, I am wondering if all those 100s of names varieties from Europe were a manifestation of hollyhock mania.  One of the articles mentioned how hollyhocks do not seem to breed true easily.  Were they really trying using proper isolation, etc?  

 M. Pelissier appears to have been breeding for form with success.

I am thinking some people planted many plants, and any of them that came up with a flower that matched a description were identified as that variety.

And the rust problem seems to have been less serious than first perceived once people realized excellent clean up care could limit the problem.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

J. Ottis Adams - Little Girl With Hollyhocks

I am up to my ears in school paperwork!  Art teachers see every kid in the school...each one having, enjoy these two paintings. More hollyhock info coming sooner or later; until then cool images.        

J. Ottis Adams - Little Girl With Hollyhocks
J. Ottis Adams - Hollyhocks and Poppies - The Hermitage

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hollyhocks: Diseases Of & Cures From

This stained glass window of hollyhocks was designed by John La Farge in 1881. They are the single flower type. (La Farge's younger rival was Louis Comfort Tiffany.)

I was looking into the history of the hollyhock diseases and found

myself looking at a list of possibilities generated by Google Books

 that contained recipes for hollyhock medications! 

So,  on to the cures!  This first one seems to use it as a sort of

Play-doh to contain an interesting variety of herbs and spices.

above from The practice of medicine on Thomsonian principlescontaining a biographical sketch of Dr. Thomson ... with practical directions for administering the Thomsonian medicines ... with a materia medica adapted to the work by John W. Comfort, 1850 

And now the diseases.
This 1883 article starts to give a history of the rust disease.

The hollyhock disease, Puccinia Malcacearum Mont., which was originally noticed in Chili, has in recent years spread over Europe, and its progress has been more carefully watched by botanists than that of any other plant disease, the potato-rot and grape-mildew perhaps excepted.

 But while the two diseases last named extended to Europe by way of North America, the hollyhock disease, apparently, was conveyed directly from South America to Europe, and did not pass through the United States. The only reference to the existence of the hollyhock fungus in this country is in the catalogue of Pacific coast fungi by Harkness and Moore, where it is said to have been found on Malta, near San Francisco. 

A fungus related to the hollyhock fungus has been observed on species of Malcastrum in the Western States and California. It was first seen by Mr. D. Cleveland, near San Diego, in 1875, and has been seen several times since. By some the fungus on Malcastrum has been considered distinct, and even those who have considered it a variety of P. Malcacearwin have regarded it as distinctly unlike the form found on hollyhocks.

 When in California I examined with care the different  Malvaceae,— to which order the hollyhock belongs,— to see whether the true hollyhock fungus did not occur in that State. During a visit to the garden of Mrs. Elwood Cooper, near Santa Barbara, I found the hollyhock covered with a Puccinia, and in a canyon near the garden I also found a few leaves of Malea borealis L., on which was the same fungus. I at first supposed that what I had found was the hollyhock disease of Europe and South America, but closer examination and a careful comparison with European specimens showed that the form found at Santa Barbara was not the European form, but, on the contrary, precisely the form already known oc Malcastrum in this country. This is to me rather surprising, for if the fungus on Malcastrum is only a variety of the hollyhock fungus, when the disease appears on hollyhocks in this country, it should appear in its typical .form; and, on the other hand, if the Malcastrum fungus is really a distinct species, then the hollyhock disease of Europe is not the hollyhock disease of this Country, although both are caused by nearly related Puecinue of the sub-genus Leptopuccinia. A detailed account of the differences recognized in the two forms mentioned is only of interest to mycologists, and a discussion of the subject will come up more appropriately in another connection. In case of the fungus in question, one should consider the possibility that it may attack the cotton-plant at some future date, although Cesati states that Pueeinia Maleaeearum has not attacked the cotton in Italy. As far as our own cotton is concerned, danger is rather to be apprehended from Puccinia heterospora B. & C, which in its different forms is widely distributed on different Malvaceae in the Southern States.

 above from The Botanical Gazette, Volumes 8-10, University of Chicago, 1883 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Steel on Rust, or Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

 This rather grotesque 1887 catalog cover from one of the most recognized names in seeds so repels me for some reason I thought about not showing it to you.  Instead, I will leave it small.

Back to hollyhocks...  Why, after there were so many varieties in the early 1800s, was Burpee only offering one?

I suspect it was the rust.  We'll have to see.  The article from Great Britain  below gives insight into the disruption caused by rust.

It really is sad, and pathetic!

FEW if any subject just now is meriting so much public attention as that which heads this article. It is interesting to review the gradual progress of the revival and improvement of the Hollyhock. 

About forty-five years ago the first selection of improved and named varieties were introduced to the public by the late William Chacer of The Nurseries, Saffron Walden. There were very few growers of the Hollyhock at that time. Mr. Charles Barron, also of Saffron Walden, had a passion for the flower, and by following a course of culture dictated by his own observation and experience originated those flowers which laid the foundation for other cultivators to work upon. From 1846 to 1874, a period of nearly thirty years, the Hollyhock advanced by leaps and bounds until it reached the ideal of perfection, when, unfortunately, the darkest cloud in its history appeared in the form of a parasitic fungus known to mycologists by the name Puccinia malvacearum. 

In some places the attacks of this fungus were so severe and its ravages so great that the cultivation of Hollyhocks was abandoned altogether, and for a period of nearly fifteen years the plant has been practically lost to cultivation. There has been, however, a little knot of enthusiasts who have stood faithfully by the Hollyhock during the term of its eclipse, and now that it is emerging from the darkness they are more enthusiastic than ever. These men have not spent all their time in nursing their favourite flower. They have been equally busy in raising new and improved varieties, and although many of the grand old sorts have been destroyed these later introductions are equally fitted to fill their place; indeed, some of those raised in the north are a great advance on anything we have ever seen. But no sooner are we raising the Hollyhock to its former popular position than we find others ready to throw cold water on the work.

Of all the florists' flowers we are acquainted with the Hollyhock is perhaps the most abused, and I am sorry to record the fact that trade growers seem to be the least aware of it. They do not seem to take any trouble in their selection. Quantity, not quality, is the ideal. This has led to a great confusion of the sorts in cultivation, the majority of which are of no use for exhibition, although sent out with a wonderful recommendation. It is with the object of raising the Hollyhock to a higher position, and representing it in its true character, that I have taken in hand an election of varieties; and it is not without much trouble that I am able to place before the readers of this Journal a revised list of the bast exhibition Hollyhocks now in cultivation. I have admitted nothing but what can be authenticated by the raiser's name, and for the cordial assistance I have received in getting this information I avail myself of this opportunity of tendering my warmest thanks.
In the returns and lists before me I have over 400 varieties of named Hollyhocks, a fact which I daresay will astonish most of the growers at the present day, as very few indeed seem to grow more than three dozen varieties which are considered by them admissible for exhibition. There will be undoubtedly a few more good sorts in cultivation which I am not yet acquainted with. These will be admitted as soon as they have been proved here. The majority of Hollyhocks enumerated in trade lists and sent out at the present time are a disgrace to the trade. Where or by whom they have been raised it will be difficult to know, as so many of them are also under wrong names. It is, however, interesting to notice so many of the fine varieties raised by the late Mr. Chater still to the front. How these have been preserved it is difficult to say, while those of equally true quality, raised by such noted growers as Messrs. Paul, Pearson, Bircham, Bragg, Boake, Downie Co., and others have been lost. We have, however, two or three of Downie & Co.'s still in cultivation, notably F. G. Dougall, one of the very best where the true variety is to be had. To place the varieties enumerated ia this list in order of merit would be invidious on my part. I have therefore placed them in position according to the number of votes received ; some of the new varieties will undoubtedly take a higher place when more largely distributed.
Grace Darling, which heads the list, is first favourite in nearly all the returns, followed closely by Bobert Byle, another grand flower, with every good property. John Finlay, sent out last year, is already a great favourite, and a decided acquisition. Lord Dacies, a seedling from Sanspareil, is ofequally fine form and distinct in colour. Maggie Bain is a magnificent variety, a colour by itself, so to speak, of a most pleasing shade. Of pure whites we have no advance on Alba Superba, and for a bright yellow we have seen nothing to equal Queen of the Yellows or Golden Drop. The same may be said of F. G. Dougall as a purple ; we have as yet nothing to take its place. Cheer is a fine variety and distinct in colour, a leading characteristic in all Mr. Thompson's seedlings. Indeed, the first three dozen at least are all of the finest quality. To preserve these and raise new and improved varieties is a work which I hope will be taken up by many who have hitherto been led to look upon the Hollyhock as a thing of the past.
Seedling raising is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in floriculture. The daily hope of the unfolding of some inestimable gem is always stronger than the constantly recurring disappointment as some fair bud of more than average promise slowly reveals its fault. 
The Hollyhock, like many other florists' flowers, is a plant that has been taken into high and special cultivation, because of the tendency it exhibits to vary from the seed in form, colour, size, and habit; and although it is often asserted that the flowers represent themselves true from seed I have never been able to verify this assertion. Some trade growers raise a quantity of their stock from seed, believing that both colour and form will be retained. This has undoubtedly led to so many varieties being under wrong names. List year, for instance, I had seedlings from Purple Prince not one having any resemblance to the parent; the majority were pure white, blush, &c. I merely mention this to show what variety may be expected from the thoughtful selection by cultivators out of the countless types and offers of variety constantly afforded. The Hollyhock has gradually become endowed with nearly every delicate shade and point of beauty which it does so richly possess. It may appear ungrateful to assert that in connection with colour the florist's requirements are as yet far from being satisfied. 
It is true that, taken in the aggregate, flowers present us with every colour and shade of colour which can be found in nature; but are there not some amongst us who would fain discern each and every of these lovely tints exemplified in each and every species of flower? So much has already been achieved by industry that we must not fix a limit to the results of zeal, patience, and perseverance.
The nearest approach to scarlet shows at once how much a Hollyhock of that colour would be prized. Seed saved from flowers of the most advanced properties fertilised with pollen from flowers possessing such characteristics as we desire to develop or perpetuate is sure to throw out soma novelty. I would impress upon all, especially amateurs, the necessity of saving their own seed. The best flowers are invariably saved from home-saved seed. Flowers produced from foreign seed are very coarse and thin as a rule. It is from gardeners and amateurs that we have got the finest flowers in recent years, and to them we must, I am afraid, be still indebted, for very few trade growers indeed seem to take an interest in theHollyhock, at least with the view of improving the flower.
The disease no doubt frightens many from investing in the work, but we now have this pest so much in hand that plants are grown comparatively free from fungus. Because the fungus still exists, and probably ever will exist to a certain extent, it is no worse than any other fungoid pests which florists have to contend with. Nor does it attack the plants in the same virulent manner as it did when first introduced. Soot is valuable; quicklime is also a great enemy to all the fungus tribe; and when the ground is thoroughly dressed with these it will kill any spores of fungus that may be resting in the ground; and where plants are treated as advised in a recent issue of the Journal I think there will be no fear of success.Geo. SteelF.E.H.S., Heatherslaw,Cornhill-on-Tweed.
 The chart below followed this article in the 1891 Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening, Volume 22

Later in the same magazine was this article.  George Finlat was undaunted by rust!

All growers and lovers of this grand plant, the Hollyhock, must feel a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. G. Steel for the great trouble he has voluntarily taken upon himself in trying, and I hope with success, to clear up a subject which is of vital importance to all persons interested in the exhibition of Hollyhock blooms—viz., a determination to have none but the true variety the purchaser asks for. I have repeatedly seen purchasers served with plants under the name required, but when the plants unfolded their flowers the greatest disappointment ensued, as they turned out to be worthless varieties. I suggest that vendors as well as buyers try and put a stop to this not very commendable practice, as it would do away with much uncertainty and vexation. I have often heard it said, and I have also read, that the Hollyhock has deteriorated of late years. I have had letters from all parts of England, Scotland, and Wales asking me the same questions. My answers to all have been the same—-viz., " No ; not at all," as many of the older varieties are still to the fore. I would like to ask the veteran growers which were their best varieties, and see if some of us do not possess the true sorts.
I have been familiar with the Hollyhock for at least twenty-five years, and I can truly say if memory serves me rightly that I have grown and shown better Hollyhock blooms for the last eight or ten years than I remember having seen twenty years ago. If any of your readers saw the display of cut blooms at the Newcastle-uponTyne autumn Show in 1887, better known as the Jubilee Exhibition, when twelve stands of twenty-four were staged for competition, they must, I think, admit there has not been much deterioration. I consider only the first and second-prize collections were good, my own and Mr. A. Rogeraon's respectively. After those two stands the quality of the blooms gradually dwindled down to specimens about as large as G lobe sters. Take again the Newcastle autumn Show of 1889 ; there were not quite so many competitors, but the blooms were decidedly better than in 1887. I believe Mr. Jas. Douglas judged the cut flowers in both years. What has he to say respecting them? It has been a greater difficulty to procure really good sorts than it has been to cope with the disease.
It may appear somewhat egotistical on my part to relate in these columns my own success as a Hollyhock exhibitor, but why I do so is that it may be an incentive to others. I have exhibited during the last ten years all over the country, including the Crystal Palace, Newcastle, and Alnwick, and many other places about ninety-four standsof blooms, and my record is ninety-one first prizes, two seconds, and one third. It will thus be seen I ought at least to know something ofgood exhibition sorts.
I will now give a few remarks about Mr. Steel's list. I may state, as he does, that some far down the list will before long take a higher position ; for instance, W. E. Gladstone and Mr. Fenwick will, I presume, nearly head the list when distributed. Mr. Steel has Grace Darling at the top, which position it has great claim to, but my opinion is that Queen of the Yellows in perfection is the finest variety in cultivation. Peri is the only white I know worth growing.
In conclusion, I will name what I consider the best twelve sorts—viz., 
Grace Darling, 
Queen of Yellows, 
Robert Ryle, 
William Ewart Gladstone, 
John Finlay, 
Maggie Bain, 
Mrs. Maynard, 
Ruby Queen, 
Agnes Ryle, 
Peri, and 
Le Grande. 

To add to this another twelve I would say have F. G. Dougall, Lord Decies, Leviathan, Hercules, Venus, Mrs. Codling, Pride of Layton, Walden Queen, Conquest, Majestic. Thomas Fenwick, and Champion. These, if true to name and well grown, would almost be unsurpassable on the exhibition table. I urge upon exhibitors not to strive so much for a large collection, but to form only a well chosen selection. The same applies to all other kinds of florists' flowers besides Hollyhocks. It is better to grow several plants of one variety than so many of a worthless or inferior type. Those who would like to grow Hollyhocks must not be deterred by the fungus, for by careful management this can be kept at bay. Cut the plants down as soon as they have finished flowering in the autumn, the earlier the better, cover them with light soil about 2 inches deep ; they will soon be seen to push through the soil fresh and clear of disease. I may in a future note have something to say about my mode of cultivation. — George Finlat, East Layton Ball Gardens, Darlington.