American Gardening, 790-791 (December 1, 1900)

BEGONIAS occupied a prominent position at the recent Philadelphia show, and attracted considerable attention. The bright spot of color created by the table holding them warranted all the notice they received, officially and otherwise.

One of the most imposing displays was that of Begonia "rosea gigantea" (so-called), from Henry F. Michell. As an autumn flowering greenhouse plant or window plant this deserves to be popularized. It is an exact counterpart of the variety known as Haageana, except that it is brighter and more imposing. Quite some interest was aroused through the various exhibits of Begonia Gloire de Lorraine; and the white sport from this, named Caledonia, was exhibited by Henry A. Dreer. This firm had quite a bunch of it and was not so conservative of it as were our Boston friends who placed it in a glass case. From what we have seen of this plant at Boston and Philadelphia we do not doubt but that the white form will become a popular companion to the now well-known original type.

But now, so far as the pink forms are concerned, the question arises, when are we to stop creating names? Edwin Lonsdale and John Thatcher exhibited their respective pink sports. There is no question that the last two are an improvement upon the original, but the difference between the two sports is so slight that distinctive names should certainly not be given; it is the experience of growers who have cultivated Gloire de Lorraine in quantity, both in Europe and in this country, that sports are as plentiful as autumn leaves. In a large house full which we saw near Boston a year ago there would not have been the slightest difficulty in picking out a dozen distinct forms. It resolves itself then into a question for individual cultivators to make selections from the forms which please them most and continue to propagate their own strain, but it is certainly improper to give these distinctive names.

Mr. Thatcher's sport is apparently stronger in every particular than the type; the foliage is larger and possibly of heavier color, the blooms are larger and are borne more erect. If there he any difference between the forms of Mr. Thatcher and Mr. Lonsdale it lies in the blooms of the former being carried on slightly more rigid stems. But does not this difference come in the cultivation?

There is one advantage and one only about this exhibition of these several sports or variations, which is that it helps to popularize the type. There is no question but that Gloire de Lorraine is one of the most attractive Begonias now in cultivation.

FIG. 167.—BEGONIA WELTONIENSIS FIG. 168.—BEGONIA GLOIRE DE LORRAINE

At the late Philadelphia show the class for six flowering varieties was an evidence of the desirability of paying more attention to Begonias than is now general. John Thatcher and Joseph Hurley won the awards in the order named, with two excellent displays. Rex Begonias were in evidence but not so attractive.

While speaking on the subject of Begonias we would put in a word for Begonia Weltoniensis, that useful hybrid of unknown origin. Why have our gardeners discarded this charming variety? Its foliage and stem are exquisite in themselves, while its flowers are not equaled by those of Gloire de Lorraine. It can also be bedded out to advantage in favored locations where it only gets the afternoon sun and where the soil is tolerably moist. We look for a revival of interest in these once popular greenhouse plants and stand ready to welcome it.

It is interesting to compare Gloire de Lorraine, the latest hybrid from B. Socotrana with the first hybrid from that species introduced in 1885, under the name of John Heal. This created quite a sensation when first seen, and beautiful as it was, has been decidedly outdistanced by more recent introductions. John Heal was produced from Socotrana x Viscountess Doneraile, the latter being a hybrid of Monarch and B. Sedeni. Sedeni it will be recalled, is the first hybrid Begonia of which there is any record, and was produced from B. Boliviensis and an unknown unintroduced species. It is a tuberous form with bright rosy carmine, male, flowers. Gloire de Lorraine is the result of Socotrana x Dregei, and is curious in being purely fibrous rooted, although its parents incline to tuberous—B. Socotrana is a semi-tuberous species and B. Dregei has a thickened rhizome. It is certainly the most beautiful of all the Socotrana hybrids which include Triomphe de Lemoine, Triomphe de Nancy (yellow), Adonis, Winter Gem, Gloire de Seaux, Autumn Rose, Bijou and Julia, all of which with the exception of the one indicated above have flowers of varying shades of rosy carmine.

Begonia list