The Garden, 24(618): 248-250 (Sept 22, 1883)

PLATE 406. CAMELLIA C. M. HOVEY.*
*Drawn in Messrs. Veitch's nursery, Chelsea, in April last.

OUR plate this week represents a Camellia of American origin, and one of the finest that has come to us from that country. Already it has become popular, and some of our best cultivators lace it in the foremost rank among Camellias. For the following account of it, and also of other American Camellias, we are indebted to the raiser, Mr. C. M. Hovey, of Boston, Mass.

This Camellia was raised from seed about the year 1840, and first flowered in 1847. I find it described in my note book of that date as "fine double red, imbricated." Subsequently, flowers and plants of it in bloom were exhibited annually at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and in 1854 this variety was awarded a gold medal. The late Mr. Joseph Breck, chairman of the committee on flowers attached to that Society, thus wrote of it about that time: " During the last seven years Mr. C. M. Hovey has exhibited a great variety of seedling Camellias, some of them beautiful and perfect. The committee are disposed to denominate some of them fine, and two of them very fine, but the most perfect in their estimation is one designated by the letter I, already noticed in the report of the Flower Committee of 1853 as worthy of the Society's gold medal, provided its high character should be sustained another season. This, our committee report, has been the case, and therefore now recommend the award of the Society's large gold medal for this seedling Camellia to Mr. C. M. Hovey. The flowers are very large, nearly 4 1/2 inches in diameter, full, and perfectly double to the centre, and of great depth. Their colour is rich vivid crimson-scarlet—a nearer approach to scarlet than any variety with which we are acquainted, and decidedly the finest dark variety we have yet seen. From 1847 up to 1879 this Camellia remained in my hands, and the first plant I ever parted with, except one presented to Mr. Breck ten or twelve years ago, and which unfortunately disappeared from his collection, was sold at Stevens' in King Street, Covent Garden, in the autumn of 1878. Not one had then been offered for sale in America, and, therefore, this Camellia is not so well known in that country as in England. About 1830 I had collected together about a dozen varieties of Camellias. I had read all I could find upon Camellia culture, and particularly what Chandler, of Vauxhall, had to say, the pioneer in the growth of seedling Camellias in England. I was also familiar with the "Iconographe" of L'Abbe Belize, and had looked up all the plates of Camellias in Sweet, Paxton, "Flore des Serres," &c. But it was in that year that I for the first time visited New York and the garden of the late Michael Floy, of that city, to see his great collection of seedlings, and this gave me Camellias on the brain. I thought of nothing but Camellias. dreamt of them, read about them, purchased them; yes, one hundred and fifty, and about as worthless a number to-day as one could get together, though some of them cost 20 fr. and 30 fr. each. And, as to add fuel to flame, I also visited Philadelphia for the first time, and there found the florists all growing Camellias and raising seedlings. I found my good old friend, Robert Buist, with a houseful of fine young Camellias and lots of seedlings, and Mr. Laudreth, who had only a year or two before produced the very fine Landrethi, still a good sort, only a poor grower. Mr. Smith had also a house of rare Palms and Cacti, and some fine seedling Camellias, Smith's amabilis being still a beautiful one; and a young man, gardener to Mr. Geo. Pepper, in Chestnut Street, named Chalmers, had produced some superior seedlings, Chalmer's Perfection being one of them. Then there was Mr. P. Mackenzie, who raised subsequently Jenny Lind, which Henderson purchased for 200 guineas. Proceeding to Baltimore, I found Mr. Samuel Fend [Feast] had anticipated me, and also produced one or two very beautiful sorts, and so had Mr. Kurtz and Dr. Edmonson. At Washington I found quantities of seedlings, all pretty good, but none extra fine. Returning home, on my way I accidentally became acquainted with the late Mr. P. Dunlap, then gardener close to New York. He, too, had some fine seedlings, and he introduced me to an old sailor and neighbour, Capt. Harrison, who had a most beautiful double white, more exquisite than alba plena, a perfect gem to-day. This same Capt. Harrison also raised the yellow Harrison's Rose, which I believe some English rosarians consider to be about the most beautiful and valuable hardy or yellow Rose extant. So you see we do raise some good things in America, or, perhaps I should say, did so fifty years ago. All, or about all, of Mr. Floy's Camellias were seedlings, a house, 40 feet long, being full in the centre with the grand Floyi; the various kinds numbered nearly fifty, the names and descriptions of which were published in Hovey's Magazine of Horticulture in 1838 (vol. iv., p. 155). Mr. Floy was an English gardener, who came to America in the year 1800, bringing with him plants of the old double white, believed to be the first ever imported into America. He was an intelligent and enthusiastic cultivator, and a corresponding member of the London Horticultural Society, to whose valuable transactions be communicated some very interesting information about American fruits and forwarded a collection of our finest Peach trees for trial.

As I have stated, it was about the year 1830 that I had a small collection of the then and now good old Camellias, and among them paeoniflora and the Middlemas red. It then occurred to me that if I had the old Waratah or Anemone-flowered variety I could fertilise it and get plenty of seed, and naturally, as I supposed, the small centre petals would be elongated, and the result a good double flower. I purchased three plants, and these same plants I have to-day. They were fertilised by such varieties as I could procure pollen from, the only full double varieties on which I could ever find any being Lady Hume and myrtifolia; these occasionally produce several stamens full of pollen. Annually we had a crop of seeds and a crop of plants, and it was while these were growing that I imported the great number of kinds already alluded to. Fortunately, some of them proved valuable as seed-bearing plants. After some five or six years the first seedlings from Waratah began to flower; and what a disappointment! Instead of a double flower imbricated to the centre, I had just what Chandler obtained—a flower with two, three, or four rows of outer petals and a larger or smaller bunch of little ones in the centre. Here I at once saw that there was no hope for improvement with that parent; all the large petals had the stereotyped notch in the centre. It was this I wished to get rid of, and I was desirous of securing a full, regularly imbricated, perfect flower. I studied up the matter, and came to the conclusion to begin anew after the loss of five or six valuable years. I noticed among the numerous seedlings I raised a large number with single flowers, some large, some small, and some with clear cut round petals filled with petaloid stamens in the centre. The latter I decided were to be my seed-bearers, and I at once began fertilising them with the pollen of the many different kinds which I then had in bloom, always selecting such stamens as are called petaloid. I had no lack of seed-pods, and found it quite a task to keep in view the various fertilisations. During this period something was written in the Magazine of Horticulture concerning the hybridisation of Camellias, the writer contending that they could not be well fertilised with two kinds of pollen at the some time, but that it should be applied successively; such as failed at first would take a second time. Whether this is strictly correct or not I cannot now determine. I applied it in both ways, but the labour of recording the result was too great. All, therefore, of my fine seedlings were produced from single flowers, fertilised with the most double sorts I had, such as Colvillei, paeoniflora, &c, and for colour, such as corallina, rubra plena, &c.; for a time a record was kept of the fertilisations, but as many of the seedlings did not bloom for six or seven years, the labels were broken, defaced, or lost. I had then under culture some three or four hundred seedlings.

THE FIRST SEEDLING that was really beautiful bloomed in 1847. This was what is now known as Mrs. Anne Marie Hovey. It happened to be on an inarched plant which I had tried on the recommendation of Thomas Andrew Knight, as recorded in the Transactions of the London Horticultural Society. It was a lovely flower of its prevailing colour, white, beautifully pencilled with carmine. I felt well repaid for my labour, and at once set to work to increase the stock. The plant was carefully nurtured, and the next year was full of buds. Judge of my surprise when it opened of the most exquisite carmine, a tint I never saw in any other flower except that of the Nymphaea odorata rosea. I now saw there was no mistake, and the plant was more carefully watched. Another year I had not only the white-pencilled carmine and the pure carmine, but I had also intermediate tinted flowers impossible to paint or describe. In successive years these continued to change till they were perfect harlequins. Letter J, now known as C. M. Hovey, followed letter A. Oh, what a sight! There was no good scarlet Camellia in existence, and to find not only a brilliant scarlet, but a flower so bold and grand, in fact perfection, was a treat such as only the raiser of novelties can appreciate. Nature gives us wonders in the floral world, but the Creator has placed in our hands only the raw materials, and has left it to the intelligence, industry, and power of man to work out of these simple materials forms which appear almost beyond conception. A single Rose growing by the wayside opening its petals in early morn, fresh with the evening dew, is indeed a pretty flower; but what would we say if in roaming over the wild wood we should espy a Maréchal Niel—a golden goblet from which nymphs might quench their thirst? Of all the flowers of the garden the Rose is pro-eminent; of all the flowers of the conservatory the Camellia is, and ever will be, unrivalled.

OTHER SEEDLINGS which I have are, however quite as beautiful and quite as distinct as C. M. Hovey. Three of these are better known to English and Continental florists than toAmerican cultivators. Both C. M. Hovey and C. H. Hovey were sent to London one year before they were offered for sale here, and the number of plants disseminated shows that even without ever seeing a flower people had confidence enough to purchase the plants. It was a great gratification to me to be able to show some fine flowers of Mrs. Anne Marie Hovey from plants which I took with me to London, and to receive not only the thanks of the committee with the award of a certificate, but the congratulations of the distinguished amateurs and lovers of beautiful plants who make up the assembly at Kensington. This Camellia surpasses in every quality all other varieties yet produced. In the shape and symmetry of the flower, and in the form, substance, and perfection of petal, it has no equal; but its most remarkable character is its peculiar and distinct quality of producing flowers of many different colours on the same plant. The prevailing colour is a clear, waxy white, delicately pencilled with crimson; but often a great number are of the darkest and richest carmine. In fact, new combinations of colour are displayed every year; the marbling, spotting, pencilling, blotching, and tinting of the various flowers, as well as the soft blush and carmine blossoms, have no parallel among plants. The form is perfection, the petals perfectly round without the smallest notch in the petals. It flowers abundantly, beginning about January and continuing till June. C. H. Hovey is the darkest Camellia ever produced. The colour is entirely new, resembling as nearly as possible that of Lord Raglan Rose or most of the new dark velvety crimson Perpetuals, a colour never seen in any Camellia. The shape is perfect, the petal as round and symmetrical as if cut with a compass; the flowers remarkably deep and imbricated, as all three varieties are to the centre; habit vigorous and pyramidal, with unusually rich handsome foliage, and a most profuse bloomer.

SOME SEEDLINGS I have which have never yet been offered for sale. I have the parent plants of all of them, now of very large size. Most of them are from 12 feet to 15 feet high and from 6 feet to 8 feet in diameter. Of some I have not even a duplicate plant, of others only three or four, and of some five or six. I am just now increasing the stock. All of them were fertilised by my own hand, potted, repotted, and entirely managed by myself till they attained the height of 8 feet or 10 feet. It was one of the most delightful occupations of my younger days, after attending to business in the city, to return home, and after tea to ramble among the Camellias with the temperature outside at nearly zero, and at nine o'clock to give them a thorough syringing; the water as it fell from the glossy leaves sparkled in the candle-light, and the leaves reflected the brightness of the flame. Such work was a source of unbounded pleasure, enhanced by the anticipation of adding a new flower that would be worth a place, even by the side of the old double white or Lady Hume. None of my large plants have been repotted for six or seven years; they number upwards of 500, and fill two houses 180 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 20 feet high in the centre; yet I had to cut back the heads of the largest this year 2 feet to prevent them from touching the roof. Of course I do not recommend such treatment, but they are so large, the house would not hold them if encouraged to grow; as it is I have excavated 2 feet of earth to lower them down from the glass, yet they are in vigorous health and bloom. The best evidence of this is the fact that the first prize of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for the finest twelve cut flowers has been awarded to us for twenty consecutive years, often the second prize and the first prize for the best display of flowers. One year ago I exhibited cut flowers of thirty seedlings. Some of the stems of our plants measure 13 inches in circumference at the ground, and they are growing in 24-inch and 28-inch tubs. Some of the pots are so densely covered with Moss, that Holly Ferns with six or eight leaves are growing all around the outside. All they get is a semiannual top-dressing of Standen's manure or bone dust and soot. All the plants are grown from cuttings; no grafting, budding, or inarching. The soil which I use is a brownish loam from the surface of Oak woods, with leaf-mould or very old thoroughly decayed manure, and very little sand for old plants. I ought not to omit to notice the success of the Hon. Marshall P. Wilder in raising seedlings, of which Wilderi or Storeyi (which are identical) is well known. He commenced the production of seedlings soon after myself, and has raised at least six or eight very beautiful sorts.

It is somewhat remarkable that, while the Philadelphia and Baltimore amateurs had large and fine collections of Camellias, there was but one in New York besides Mr. Floy's—Mr. Becar's, who raised the fine variety A. J. Downing, and none in Boston, except Mr. Wilder's and our own. There is to-day, after so many years, only one single addition worthy of the name, and that one is the collection of the Hon. F. B. Hayes, who purchased two years ago half of Mr. Wilder's collection and fine large specimens of our three seedlings first described.

NEW SEEDLINGS.—Amongst these the following are well worth attention:—

EVA CORINNE HOVEY.—A fine, bold, full-sized flower, very double, all the petals incurved, forming a solid bloom; colour, light rosy carmine, every petal finely tipped or bordered with white; foliage large, thick, glossy; habit erect, extremely vigorous, and flowering so profusely that, unless many of the buds are taken off, they fail, from the great number of petals they contain, to open in perfection. First flowered in 1850.

SOUVENIR OF ANNIE MARIE HOVEY.—An exquisite double' white flower of medium size, with perfectly rounded petals, broad, and incurved, forming when expanded a perfect cup-shaped flower; the colour is not the cold, icy white of alba plena, but is inclined to a warm French white; foliage large, almost round, prettily recurved, and of the deepest and glossiest green; habit erect and vigorous; a late blooming kind, which first flowered in 1850.

SUZETTE HOVEY.—One of the most lovely of all my seedlings; a perfect counterpart of some of the very finest light Perpetual Roses, say Mad. Gabriel Luizet. If the flower is taken off and placed on the stem of a Rose accompanied by its leaves, it is almost impossible to detect the fraud. The flower is of good size, with beautifully cupped petals of the loveliest rose, very slightly veined or reticulated with a little deeper shade; foliage medium sized, deep green; habit handsome and vigorous. First flowered in 1852.

FLORENCE HOVEY.—Still another remarkably distinct and good flower, with petals whose outline is as clear as if cut with the compass; colour, new rich violet-rose, unknown in any other Camellia. The flower is full medium sized, almost globular, with that exquisite incurving which adds so much to the beauty of the best ltoses; foliage large and habit vigorous. First flowered in 1852.

EULALIE HOVEY.—Take Fordi or Henri Favre, and make of them just such a flower as would be your idea of perfection, and you have this Camellia, a bright rose of satiny texture, exquisitely cupped and imbricated to the last petal with a precision almost wonderful. Foliage medium sized, habit moderately vigorous. First flowered in 1852.

MRS. J. R. CARTER.—A very fine flower of a rosy crimson colour, splashed with white on the centre of each petal; very full and double; habit very vigorous. First flowered in 1849.

HON. JOHN CUMMINGS.—A handsome flower, rather below medium size, and of a peculiar dark ruddy scarlet, quite distinct. Foliage small; flower-buds quite pointed. First flowered in 1858.

POND LILY.—A remarkably distinct variety, resembling what we usually call our Nymphaea odorata, the Pond Lily. It had only two rows of petals, with a few small ones in the centre; but the outer petals are so very large, thick, and bold in outline, and of such a warm tint of white, that it is one of the most attractive of Camellias. It is a free bloomer, but a poor grower; leaves large, roundish, flat; habit irregular. It first flowered in 1849, and the original plant is only 6 feet high.

One more I have, the last of my seedlings, which first flowered eight or ten years ago. It is the most charming of all white Camellias; the petals are perfectly round, as if cast in a mould, unfold beautifully without reflexing, and remain in that semi-open state till the flowers fade and the petals fall. It is not yet named. C. M. HOVEY.

Camellias