Nursery Fraud

Popular Gardening and Fruit Growing, 4: 89 (Jan 1889)
The meaning of Substitution

The following instructions are posted up in the packing room of a certain establishment for the employees who fill catalogue orders. After noting this it would seem largely an “error” for a customer to get even one variety ordered true to name. For Perle des Jardins give Safrano, Jean Pernet, M. Margottin, Isabella Sprunt or Marie Van Houtte. For Duchesse Edinburgh, either Mme. de Vatry, Aline Sisley or Souv. de David. For The Bride give Cels Tea, C. Cook, Bella or Mlle. Rachel. Substitute for Mabel Morrison, Couquette des Blanches, Olga Marix or Perfection des Blanches. We are informed that this list is changed from time to time to suit the stock on hand, so that they are always able to "fill complete" any order received. Let us no longer dally with this matter, but act decisively. The substituter is a criminal guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses, and should be punished. If the trade or the National Society of Florists would crush out this practice let them take legal action in every case where conclusive proof can be obtained. Fear of the consequences would then deter those who have lost all sense of honor.—Amer. Florist.

American Florist, Volume 2(38): 270 (Mar 1, 1887)
"Rose Grower"

The action of the executive committee of the S. A. F. is causing no little talk among the craft, and especially among those doing a mailing business. The question is asked, does the evil of substituting exist to the extent inferred by the action of the executive committee, or are these gentlemen taking upon themselves unnecessary trouble in endeavoring to bring about a reform in this the most disreputable of all practices connected with the profession? Multitudes of amateur customers protest in most emphatic terms against this vicious and unholy way of doing business; that the evil exists we have abundant evidence.

The writer of this has a letter from one of the most distinguished French rosarians in which he asks the question, "Why do American plantsmen consent to send out varieties of roses known to be untrue to label?" citing in support the fact of a Pennsylvania gentleman sending to him every year for varieties of roses that appear on every rose-growers' catalogue in America, telling the Frenchman "I cannot depend on the roses gotten from my countrymen." Is not this a sad commentary on the profession in America? Another writer in a prominent journal says very few of the hybrid perpetual roses disseminated in the United States are true to name. Instance after instance could be given where amateurs have been victimized. A lady in a neighboring town sent the required price to a distinguished (?) florist for twenty-four roses—all different varieties—and on their coming into bloom she had those three time-honored servants of the rose grower—Bon Silene, Sprunt and Safrano—but she got twenty-four labels, all different "purchasers' choice," and doubtless the gentleman filling the order thought she got all she was entitled to; but what a reproach on honorable dealing? Two prominent members of the executive committee made the statement that certain parties had the question of substitution down to a system, for on the walls of the packing rooms were hung— for guidance—a list of varieties to be used in substituting all good sorts; but if other varieties were sent, why not label them true? They also said that the above could be verified by workmen in their employ. Instances are numerous where the trade has been victimized, and it has been done in a very adroit manner; but that day is about gone by, for there is too much intelligence abroad to suffer this to go on unnoticed.

Enough mistakes occur in handling and shipping plants without adopting a systematic method of swindling. That this practice should be stamped out does not admit of question by any honorable man in the business. The action taken by the executive committee of the society deserves the hearty and earnest support of every man in the craft who has the good of our profession at heart; the movement inaugurated augurs well for the craft. The methods mentioned above operate injuriously to those desiring to do a straightforward business. Take, for instance, an amateur who makes his first investment in plants; he gets ten or twelve varieties of roses; he plants, tends, flowers them, and makes his notes; next season rolls around; he finds many of his roses winter-killed, and he concludes this year to send his order to B; well, B sends the list true to name, but imagine the purchaser's disappointment to find them entirely different from his varieties of the previous year. Does the result of his dealing with B give confidence, when in fact he has received just what he asked for? I give this to show how it operates to the disadvantage of those doing a square business. We must recollect also that there are thousands of new customers every year who become plant purchasers.

That the profession on the whole are honorable men cannot be doubted; they are honest in their intentions, but in the scramble for wealth there has fallen on the profession a certain laxity of thought and a seeming condonence of the evil mentioned. We need a thorough toning up and a higher and better appreciation of our calling than to stand by and wink at this blot upon our good name as a craft.

*The HT rose 'Winnie Davis' (= Killarney) is an example.

Another pernicious practice is seemingly gaining ground; that is the changing of names of not only new plants but time-honored varieties of plants that have been known for a generation—instances are numerous where noted plantsmen have renamed plants for heroes of the south in order to catch trade in that quarter;* but how can we check this? By exposing and upholding the matter, until for very shame they cease doing it. Let the society at its next annual meeting give Mr. Robert Halliday the time necessary and he will show the ugly features of this last-mentioned disease, and he has a remedy as well. Let the executive committee faithfully carry out its programme; let the blow strike where it will, and the voice of the Society of American Florists will say amen.

American Garden 9(4) 147-148 (Apr 1888)
New Roses—Substitution—Guarantees of Name.
F. Lance.

The list of new roses for 1887-8 is a long one, comprising 39 hybrid remontants, 31 teas, 8 hybrid teas, 1 bengal, 4 polyanthas, 5 bourbons, 1 moss, 3 noisettes and 1 rugosa, making a total of 93 novelties, forming an increase of 15 over the sum total of the preceding year. One of the most noticeable novelties is a tea, the Princesse de Sagan, raised by Dubreuil; this rose evidently has a promising future before it and is destined to create a sensation in the rose world. It has elicited favorable notice wherever exhibited, received silver medals at three different exhibitions in the course of the past summer, and obtained a first-class certificate of merit at the meeting of the Association Horticole Lyonnaise in August last. The most original feature displayed by the Princesse de Sagan is its remarkable depth of color. Nothing heretofore produced in the section of tea roses can compare with it in this respect, for it possesses all the glowing richness, brilliancy and dusky velvet shadings we so much admire in hybrid remontants, such as Louis Van Houtte or Jean Liabaud, while being at the same time quite distinct in form and bearing. It is said to be an abundant bloomer, both in the greenhouse and the open ground, and, should it really prove to be a good forcing rose, cannot fail to become extremely popular and of exceptional value on account of its strikingly gorgeous color.

The November issue of the Journal des Roses gave a beautiful colored plate of another new rose, Mile. Germaine Caillat, a hybrid tea raised by Pernet, a seedling from Baronne de Rothschild and Mme. Falcot, the same parents, by the way, that produced Gloire Lyonnaise. It has inherited good traits from both, having the ample size of the Baronne and the prolific blooming qualities of Mine. Falcot. The color, a lovely flesh pink, grows deeper and is intermingled with yellow tints in the centre. Duchesse d'Auerstaedt, a seedling from the noisette Reve d'Or, is another very promising flower and is remarkable for size, fulness and a rich golden yellow color, with nankeen shaded centre. The catalogue of Nabonnand Fils, of Golpe Juan, contains descriptions of 11 novelties raised at their establishment, one of the most prominent being L'Ideal, the result of a cross between parents in the tea and noisette classes. If the account given by the growers be trustworthy, this rose is one of the most striking hitherto produced, and displays points in color so very original that they almost defy description. The flower is large, semi-double and extremely elegant in form, while the coloring is a compound of yellow and crimson, with glowing metallic shades blended with dazzling golden tints, displaying an extraordinary combination of colors never before shown by any rose. In addition to all this it is claimed to be excessively vigorous, very fragrant, exceptionally floriferous and, without contradiction, the ne plus ultra of roses. Should any amateur imitate Oliver Twist and ask "for more," he deserves to fall into the hands of Don Pedro da Costa. Fortunately, unlike the introducer of that barefaced fraud, Lusiadas, Nabonnand enjoys a high reputation and has originated several successful flowers, such as the popular Papa Gontier, Isabella Nabonnand, etc., so we may reasonably infer that a substratum of truth underlies the superstructure of enthusiastic praise given to L'Ideal.

Margottin, of Bourg La Reine, offers only one new rose the present season, a hybrid remontant named Gloire de Margottin, which is flamboyant in color, said to be the most intensely brilliant crimson rose ever produced.

Two new English hybrid remontants seem full of promise, one of which, Sir Rowland Hill, was much admired at the Edinburgh and Manchester exhibitions. It is ruby red, shaded with very dark maroon on opening, thence changing to a very agreeable shade of purple. The other, the Duchess of Leeds, is a seedling from La France, which it resembles in a general way, but is slightly deeper in color. The two new Irish roses, Earl Dufferin and Lady Helen Stewart, both hybrid remontants, raised by Alexander Dickson & Sons, have won laurels at several prominent exhibitions, and are without doubt very fine flowers.

Velhausen has just come in with the report of the S. A. F. meeting at Chicago. Taking up the pamphlet I very naturally turned to the discussion on substitution, and was somewhat surprised to observe the comparatively limited number of members that took part in it. The nervousness to which Mr. Hill facetiously alluded evidently must have been contagious, otherwise the contingent of courageous hunters to "face the bear" would have been more numerous. On the whole the matter was ably discussed and the outlook for reform is hopeful. It certainly is gratifying to note that the leading men in the society are unanimous in condemning the practice and seem determined to devise means to crush it. The attitude they assume on the question cannot fail to exert a beneficent influence, for it will assist in forming a healthy public opinion among the members of the craft and will tend to render the abuse disgraceful and unpopular. Messrs. Hill, Craig, May and Hunt spoke extremely well on the subject. They waived all meretricious special pleading and frankly acknowledged that it was both useless and impolitic to blindly ignore the existence of an evil that was working such mischief to the profession, and which if unchecked would continue to be a grave detriment to the interests of the trade. There were no false notes in the manly, straightforward utterances of these gentlemen, and they made no attempt to minimize the responsibility of florists by attributing all errors to unintentional mistakes and to the ignorance of unsophisticated customers.

Of course it must be conceded that errors, without intent to deceive, occasionally occur, but instances which had come under the personal observation of several of these gentlemen were cited to prove that deliberate fraud was not uncommon. Mr. Craig related several telling cases, in which serious losses to leading florists had been occasioned by the purchase and propagation of spurious plants, which had been palmed off on them as valuable novelties. But granting, for instance, that one-half of the errors are due to oversight, that would not at all lessen the necessity for reform, for the slipshod, careless florist needs to be converted from the error of his negligent ways quite as well as the dishonest one who deliberately deceives. The loss, injury and disappointment to a customer are precisely the same, and as keenly felt, whether substitution be the result of negligence or fraud, and how thoughtful florists can object to a thorough ventilation of this vital question, or seek to depreciate the importance of efforts to bring about a better state of things, passes comprehension. There must be a screw loose somewhere, either in their craniums or in their packing rooms. Let us suppose a case that would turn the tables. How would a florist like it were he, for instance, to order a greenhouse boiler (hot water) and to his great consternation receive instead a threshing mill (steam), particularly should the price of the mill be much less than the sum he had remitted for the boiler? It would be sheer presumption to attempt to portray the state of his feelings; they would have to be left to the imagination. The fact of sending a threshing mill to a florist would in itself constitute a dreadful outrage, but sending a steam mill to one who had ever been a consistent and zealous hot water advocate would be the culmination of iniquity, the grand climax of insult and injury. Ere the deplorable affair could have been righted and a new boiler installed, the season's rush of business might perhaps have passed away, thus entailing largely diminished sales and consequent loss. In vain would the boiler maker write in an airy, nonchalant, or even jocular way, that Richard, Thomas or Henry, he couldn't for the life of him tell which, had committed the blunder, and that the florist might thank his stars that the frisky fellow hadn't sent him a double back-action sausage machine. It's quite safe to say that the indignant florist would utterly fail to appreciate the playfulness of the dealer's jovial assistant, and would, no doubt, at once take proceedings sufficiently serious to place the genial dealer in greenhouse boilers in the very hottest kind of water.

E. G. Hill & Co., of Richmond, Ind., and several other leading florists announce the present season that they "warrant their roses true to name." This is a gratifying innovation, and to amateurs is one of the most encouraging signs of the times. Such a guarantee may be reasonably accepted as a presumption in favor of the good faith and trustworthiness of those who offer it; hence that it would be both prudent and advisable to patronize men who have the courage of their convictions is a foregone conclusion. A significant phase of my experience confirms my faith, for it so happens that the dealers who now make the announcement prove to be the identical men whom I have heretofore found to be accurate and reliable in labeling their plants.

No doubt a restricted number of florists will find it somewhat embarrassing to place themselves in a position that will enable them to confidently assure the public that their roses are true to name. Maintaining satisfactory precision in nomenclature cannot fail to prove extremely irksome to men who have been accustomed for years to violate the fundamental principles of rose genealogy. The new regime will involve the adoption of a systematic method whereby their roses may be kept correctly labeled, and will quite naturally entail no little care and circumspection in handling them. It was ever so much more convenient and expeditious under the old system to take roses at random from a heterogeneous stock and with obliging complacency label them with the names which the orders of their confiding customers called for. What wonder, then, that a single variety often appeared with unblushing effrontery under a score of different titles, but blooming time was sure to reveal the mendacity of the "Original Old Jacobs."

I would not, however, for the world have it inferred that all florists who may have refrained from offering such guarantee should be considered untrustworthy. Oh no, such an insinuation would be rash, unjust, and exceedingly uncharitable. On the contrary, I confidently believe that there are many worthy men who deal in roses in an honorable way, but whose excessive application to the daily routine of their calling has so absorbed their time and attention that they have neglected to carefully scan the constant development of significant events in the floricultural world, and have failed to perceive the gradual advent of imperative innovations, amongst which may be noted the vital necessity of openly proclaiming a fearless and undying faith in the correct nomenclature of their roses, the omission of which in any well conducted catalogue is at the present day justly regarded as a radical defect, a defect, however, that can be easily rectified another year by those who may desire to keep pace with the onward march of floriculture in this enlightened age, or by those who may have inadvertently overlooked the possible injurious effect of such an omission on their future business prospects.

Tilton's Journal of Horticulture and Florist's Companion, 6: 372 (Dec 1869)

The Sublime of Impudence

We do not think a better exemplification of impudence rising to the height of sublimity could be found than in the following anecdote of a tree-dealer, whose place of business was not a thousand miles from Boston. This person called himself a nurseryman, and had a little piece of land a few miles from the city, — just enough for him to talk about his "nursery-grounds." One day, a gentleman who wanted a good-sized Bartlett pear-tree called on Mr.____, the tree-dealer. He found him at his "grounds," and stated his wishes to Mr.____, who at that moment had hold of a pear-tree standing by him. "Well," said Mr.____, "this tree that I have got hold of is a Bartlett; and I should think it is just about what you want." The customer asked the price, and Mr. replied that he would sell it for five dollars: it was worth more; but it had been dug up and heeled in; and, sooner than set it out again, he might have it for that price. It seemed to be a good tree, and cheap: so the gentleman took it, paid his five dollars, and carried the tree home, and set it out; and, being of good size, it was not long in coming into bearing. Its owner then put some of the fruit in his pocket, and went to see Mr.____ again.

"What kind of pears are these?" said he, showing the tree-dealer a handful. "Well, I don't know," was the reply; "but I should think they were button-pears." — "Button pears, indeed! wouldn't you think they were Bartlett pears?" "Bartlett pears ! they're no more Bartlett pears than a French turnip is a Bartlett pear." — "Well, Mr.____, at any rate, these pears grew on a tree that I bought of you for a Bartlett pear-tree." — "Are you such a d____d fool," was the rejoinder, "as to expect a tree is going to bear Bartlett pears the first year?" Of course, there was nothing to be said after that.

American Rose Quarterly (1930)
Is General Jacqueminot in American Commerce?
By G. A. STEVENS, Harrisburg, Pa.

When I came to Breeze Hill in 1924 I found numerous plants labeled Général Jacqueminot which did not correspond to my plant in any particular. The bushes were thin, with waxy foliage, much bronzed in the young state, and the flowers were semi-double, rather small, and dark, purplish crimson. In consulting with Dr. McFarland about the differences I found that he took no exception to the variety he had, and apparently recognized it as the Général Jacqueminot he had always known.

Unconvinced, I obtained specimens of Général Jacqueminot from various sources to compare with the Breeze Hill plants, and found in every case that the rose supplied was identical with them. The Breeze Hill plants came, in 1912, from a local nursery which does not specialize in roses. The curious thing about the matter is that I have been conducting a similar hunt for the true Prince Camille de Rohan, and in every case get the same variety for both Rohan and Jacqueminot! And neither is true!

Magazine of Horticulture 3(7): 246-248 (July 1837)
Art. II. Roses—new Varieties.
By An Amateur. (Gideon B. Smith, Esq.)

In one of your numbers of last winter, a correspondent, writing from Philadelphia, mentioned the monthly cabbage rose, that they had in Philadelphia, in such terms that I immediately sent to the person whom I guessed was the writer, for the monthly cabbage rose spoken of, referring to the Magazine for the description. He sent me the rose—and what do you think it proves to be? Why, the Gloria de France; the same we have had for some time, and of which one of our gardeners (Mr. John Feast,) had an abundance of saleable plants, the stock of which he got from Philadelphia. There is no mistake about it—the plants are in bloom, and speak, as loud as full-blown roses can speak, for themselves. Besides which, the label on the plant which I received bears this inscription, (in the hand-writing of the person of whom I obtained it, and who I guess to be the author of the article above alluded to in your Magazine.) The label is "Gloria de France, or Monthly cabbage." Now, sir, what is the object of giving a new name to this rose, but to enable the person to sell them to those who had them before under another name? When your Magazine arrived here with the notice of the monthly cabbage, all our gardeners and many amateurs were on tiptoe to get it. I got the start of them in my hurry to be cheated, and saved them the expense and trouble of getting what they already possessed. The rose is a very fine one, and is not inappropriately called the monthly cabbage; but its other and well known name should have accompanied the new one, to prevent mistakes, and paying dearly for duplicates. By the way, the monthly cabbage sells for something more in Philadelphia than the Gloria de France, which I suppose is to pay for the trouble of giving it a new name.