Sunday, May 28, 2017

American Flag Aster Planting by Seedsman James Vick

Tomorrow is Memorial Day so when I spotted this Rochester, New York postcard I thought to post it.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

1899 - A Cool Cover from the Cool Seedsman, John Lewis Childs

I had never seen this cover.  I like Childs' portrait's use in the design...quite unusual!

Childs is a great seedsman when it came to organization and public relations.  He made a fascinating seed empire, not to mention his own town!  He was a very interesting man.

Childs, John Lewis - Floral Park, New York..........(1) (2) (3) (4(5) (6)

Sunday, May 21, 2017


was working on gathering illustrations for a more specialized history of the Show and Fancy pansies when I found this article in The Gardeners' Chronicle of 1896.  This one is more "fun" so I jumped ship to do this one first!

As usual, my interjections are in italics and reddish brown.

OPINIONS vary among botanists as to the origin of the cultivated Pansies. Charles Darwin discussed the question in his Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, but arrived at no definite conclusion, saying on p. 369, “Hence, after having carefully compared 
numerous varieties, I gave up the attempt as too difficult for anyone except a professed botanist.”

My own investigations have led to the following conclusions :—

The botanists of ancient days knew of only one kind of Viola, namely, Viola odorata, L., and those of the Middle Ages were acquainted with no other.

The Heartsease, or wild Pansy, Viola tricolor, L., was first mentioned and described by O. Brunfels (1533), and L. Fuchs (1542), both Germans.  The latter relates that “Herba Trinitatis”— the name by which the Heartsease was then known—was not only found wild, but was also cultivated as an ornamental plant in the gardens of Germany.

1542 - De historia stirpium commentarii insignes... , Fuchs

The name Pansy, so far as I have been able to make out, is used for the first time in botanical literature in 1537, by the Frenchman Ruellius, where it occurs in the Latin form Pensea.

B. Dodonaeus, from the Netherlands, is the first to use the name Viola tricolor for the Heartsease.

From the works of Dodonaeus, Dalechampius, and Gerarde, we learn that during the latter part of the sixteenth century the Heartsease was used as an ornamental plant in the Netherlands, France, and England, and that the flowers thereof showed no slight variety of colouring.

Parkinson, in 1629, describes and delineates not only the common Viola tricolor, but also a form with double flowers from gardens in England.

From the middle of the seventeenth century Viola tricolor has existed as an ornamental plant in Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and Poland.

We learn from J. W. Weinmann, Ph. Miller, and D. Villars that Viola tricolor was a very general ornamental plant in Germany, England, and France during the eighteenth century, and Weinmann’s Phytanthozoa Iconographia, published in 1745 (with coloured plates), enables us to form an exact idea of the appearance of the Pension at that time, as the eight coloured figures representing Pansies show flowers that are neither larger nor otherwise coloured than the varieties of Viola tricolor growing wild.  (BELOW)

Phytanthoza iconographia -Vol.3 -pg 595

Besides those small flowering V. tricolor Pansies already mentioned, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century more large-flowering kinds were cultivated, even if but seldom, of Viola lutea, Huds., growing in the mountainous districts of Germany, Switzerland, and England.  
Seboth, J., Graf, F., Die Alpenpflanzen nach der Natur gemalt,  (1839)

 C. Clusius, the renowned botanist, in 1583 gave the first description of this plant from specimens cultivated in the gardens of J. Camerarius, of Nuremberg. In the celebrated Bishop’s garden, at Eichstett, in Bavaria, four varieties of large-flowered V. lutea Pansies were cultivated in 1613, all being delineated in the gigantic Hortus Eystettensis.

Bessler, Basilius, Hortus Eystettensis,
vol. 1: Primus ordo collectarum plantarum vernalium, t. 21, fig. II (1620)

J. Parkinson mentions the great yellow Pansy as in cultivation in England in 1629.

From Holland and Poland there are also statements concerning the cultivation of large flowering Pansies in the seventeenth century, doubtless Viola lutea.

That this species was cultivated in England during the eighteenth century is proved by a statement by Ph. Miller in the Gardener's Dictionary.  Miller certainly calls the Pansy in question V. calcarata; but as he expressly states that it came from the mountainous districts of North Britain and Wales, there can be no doubt that the true V. lutea, Huds., is really meant.  Viola calcarata, as is well known, is not found in Great Britain, being a native of the Alps.

All the Pansies of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries may be called wild Pansies, as in all essential points they resembled those growing wild; and it is only in the present century that, thanks to the action of man, those numerous varieties of garden Pansies have been produced which, in their display of flowers, so vastly surpass their wild relations.

The Pansies of the present day were originally raised in England. In the early days of the present century several amateur horticulturists in England began to pay special attention to the Pansy, as for instance, Lady Mary Bennet, of Walton-on-Thames (1810), Lady Monks (1812), and Lord Gambier, of Iver (1813 or 1814), who instructed their several gardeners— of whom Thomson, of Iver, deserves special mention—to obtain as many varieties of Wild and cultivated Pansies as possible.   (I think there may be some confusion here, as Lady Mary Bennet became Lady Monck...or maybe not.)

Seeding was now undertaken on a large scale in specially suitable soil, and from the seedlings thus obtained those with the largest and most beautiful flowers were selected; and continued selection was made in this way year after year. By these means no small number of unusually beautiful and large-flowering varieties. were obtained, which were undoubtedly largely hybrids, that, without any intervention from man, were produced by insects which, on visiting the flowers of the different varieties and species cultivated side by side, caused a rich cross-fertilization. 

The species of Viola cultivated were those native to England, viz., the common Heartsease, Viola tricolor, L., and the yellow large-flowering Viola, V. lutea, Huds.

Winkler, M., Sudetenflora, t. 11 (1900)

The last mentioned was cultivated on a large scale at an early date, as is proved by a statement made in 1819 by Dean Herbert, the well known horticulturist and botanist, that “the great Heartsease,” which, under the name of Viola grandiflora, was then sold at Covent Garden, was identical with V. lutea, Huds., from Yorkshire and Durham.

A circumstance specially favourable for the formation of new varieties of Pansies, is that the hybrids of species of that section (Melanium) to which belong the two species just mentioned, as a. rule are more or less fertile, while hybrids of species belonging to other sections are generally sterile.

Reliable statements prove that dating from 1816, Viola altaica, Ker, a native of Siberia and the Caucasus (illus. below), was cultivated in England. It is more than probable that this species played some slight role in producing some of the Pansies of those days. Several authors have even ascribed so much importance to the part played by Viola altaica in the origin of the Pansies that they consider it their real parent. This is, however, in my opinion, a mistake, as, with the exception of bearing large flowers, the Pansies of our century have scarcely a single characteristic in common with Viola altaica, and this species seem always to have been—as it still is—a great rarity in European gardens.

1816 - The Botanical Magazine - Viola altaica

During the twenties and the thirties, the cultivation of Pansies became more and more general in England. J. Harrison tells us that from 1827 to 1833 nearly 200 new varieties of Pansies were raised; while Charles Darwin relates that in 1835 there were 400 named varieties of the Pansy on sale in England.

An account of the then demands on a good Heartsease was given by J. Paxton in 1834: 

“ The flower-stem must be of sufficient height and strength to raise the flower above the foliage of the plant; the petals of the flower large, flat, and without notch or fringe on the edge. The colours must be clear, brilliant, and permanent. The eye should be small compared with the size of the flower.” 
V. B. Wittrock, Stockholm.
(Dr. V. B. Wittrock was the Director of the Botanic Gardens, Bergisland, Stockholm, Sweden.)
(To be continued).

Well, it will be continued if I can find the next part!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nice, Free Herb Book from J. Paul Getty Gardens

Many of the large art museums are placing some of their publications and other rarer, out-of-print books online to read or to download as a PDF.  I was cruising their lists when this popped up and I thought you might like it!  Did I mention it is free? :-)

Ancient Herbs download

Visit the J. Paul Getty site and cruise for more books.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

1896 - Miss C.H. Lippincott's Fire King Aster

Love those lithographs!  

I couldn't resist sharing this one of 
Miss C.H. Lippincott's back covers featuring the aster, Fire King.

More on Miss Lippincott:
        •  Three Misses From Minneapolis
        • Found It!

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Few 20th Century Seed Packets of Stocks

I am posting these Stocks seed packets as a follow up to 1828 - A Happy Man and His Matthiola incana.   I'm not too fond of this sort of crowded, many petaled sort of bloom.  However, I want to give it a try for the clove scent.  And bees like the single flower stock! They may give this a try but I don't know.

I find some people call it Stock and others refer to it as Stocks.  

1828 - A Happy Man and His Matthiola incana

William Wilson's glee in developing a new variety of Matthiola incana, the garden flower Stock is catching.  An old fashioned favorite, I think I'll have to try it for the "clove-like scent"!  Seedsman Michael Floy's name in this article led me to this article as he features in a funny anecdote.

Johnny's Selected Seeds writes,
"Stock are a favorite among growers due to their fast maturity time. When day length is at least 13 hours, a harvestable crop can be achieved within 10–12 weeks; one of the earliest cut flowers for cooler times of the year. The ability to withstand cooler temperatures — down to 10–20°F/-12– -7°C — allows for season extension and holiday sales. Florists also appreciate Stock for their broad range of colors and easily recognized clove-like fragrance."

I have edited this article a bit, for, as charming as the writer is, his five mile long sentences, lack of commas, and purple prose were even too much for me!

From the N. Y. Farmer and Horticultural Repository.

ART. 89.—An improved variety of Ten-week stock.
It is generally very interesting to the lovers of fine flowers to be informed of the origin and progress of the improvements introduced among the finer sorts of them. The Stock's July flower when in bloom exhibits a most beautiful appearance, and emits such a delightful fragrance as entitles it to a rank in the heraldry of Flora, almost on level with the inimitable rose. 

It would perhaps not be saying too much should we aver that the variety about to be described exceeds every other of the species ...  

... we have taken no inconsiderable length of time, and employed no small care and trouble, in endeavoring to find out whether this individual variety, or any other equal to it, had ever been known to exist previous to or independent of its origin under our own cultivation at New-York, without being able to discover a single instance of either. 

We, therefore, have concluded that it has been our gratifying lot to have been the first cultivators of a variety of the Stock superior to every other that has ever come under the observation of any gardener or botanist to whom we have exhibited it or conversed with on the subject. 

In the year 1807, more than twenty years ago, I raised several hundred plants of the ten-week stock, from one paper of seed that I obtained of Mr. Michael Floy, Nursery and Seedsman.     The plants were the most single straggling looking rascals I ever grew. 

CAUTION: Long Sentence Ahead
But as seeds obtained at the shops are generally suspected, I had raised another batch of them, in hopes of raising enough of good double ones, for I calculated upon two thirds of them being single, and not worth the saving, and in this I was not disappointed, yet after having made Mr. Floy a severe and, I hope, seasonable lecture, on the abominable trash of stock seed he had sold me, I observed among them four double ones different, and I thought better than I had ever seen before. 

Botanische wandplaten 1899
But, alas, they would produce no seed, and the whole multitude of the wide placed long pedicled narrow sharp pointed flower buds were watched for and examined with an anxiety at the recollection of which, I have often since laughed heartily.  (No commas, but all the descriptive words were right on! :-)

At last, two stubborn dwarf stinted looking dogs began to open their close plane short pediciled bloom. Their seed had certainly been produced in the same pericarpium, as that of the four doubles. I forgave Mr. Floy for my disappointment in all the rest, and even sold him one of the single and one of the double new sorts for two dollars, upon the express condition that he was to raise none of the seed of that sort for sale, nor to part with any of the single flowering plants upon the pain of losing his lugg, alias, his right ear. Which condition I believe he faithfully fulfilled, for a period of more than seven years, during which time very few of the double plants that either he or I raised were sold for less than a dollar, and some good plants at pinching times after brought us nearly two. 

At last about the year 1815 some of the single plants found their way in a manner not necessary to be described from my garden to several of my neighbours who afterwards informed me of the circumstances, on which we sometimes to this day pass some hearty jokes when we meet together. 

1620, Bessler - Hortus Eystettensis
About fifteen or sixteen years ago, I sent some of the seed of this sort to London by a gentleman of Middletown, an experienced gardener, who afterwards informed me it was much admired there, and had not, so far as he could learn, ever been known there before.
Mr. Thomas Hogg, now a nurseryman in this city, who is well acquainted with the horticultural productions about London, considers this to be a superior and distinct variety from those formerly raised in England. 
I have also sent seed of it to Mr. Stewart Murray, of the Royal Botanic Garden of Glasgow, who has acknowledged in letters I have received from him since, that it is the finest sort he ever saw. But in a letter I received from him lately, he says he thinks it either degenerates there, or he had lost the breed. 
(Hogg came to NY  from Scotland, via London, in 1822.)

That certain plants succeed Better in particular situations than others, is well known to horticulturists; and New York may well be proud of this daughter of Flora, for its cultivation here has succeeded to such a degree that many instances are to be found of single flowering plants producing numbers of double flowers, as the specimens I exhibited at the meeting of the New York Horticultural Society, about a week ago, clearly proves. And this is a circumstance which I have never heard of taking place in any of other variety of the stock but this, nor in any other part of the world but New York. 

Seed from these plants which have the double flowers intervened, generally produce four double plants to one single, and sometimes they come almost nit double together. All these plants regain a strong short stocky form; the flowers are almost sessile on the peduncles, and are of such a large size and so close together, that the whole plant when in full bloom has the appearance of one universal expansion of flower petals. And in this state, they continue for months together; nor are the plants like the ten week stocks, lost when their bloom is over, but for successive years do they continue to produce their rose coloured blossoms. 

It has long been known in this place by the title of Wilson's Stock, and until some other plan can be, upon better authority, suggested for its origin, I see no impropriety of styling it the New-York Stock. It will be likely long to continue to decorate the gardens and green houses in this place, and it has already well repaid all the pains bestowed upon it by


Murray Hill Nursery,
May 27, 1828.

William Wilson, Nurseryman, beside a large greenhouse, at the corner of 4th and Macdougal St. (now corner of Washington Square), had an extensive nursery at Murray Hill, covering about 10 acres.

ANOTHER nice info and seed source: