Nursery Fraud

Horticultural Imposters

Horticultural Impostor. A man has gone about London, the two last autumns selling the roots of oenanthe crocata, for those of a newly imported species of dahlia. ...

Horticultural Impostor. — I consider it would be well to caution the readers of your Magazine against a man now travelling the country, offering tulips for sale, which he says are tree tulips, ...

A Horticultural Impostor at Sheffield. — A fellow has been cheating people here, by selling what he described as tree-tulips, growing the usual size of common tulips, but which produce many flowers on one stem, and some of them of different colours. ...

A Horticultural Impostor from Paris. ... A double yellow camellia proves a single red; a double tricolor camellia the same; a yellow double China rose, and a tricolor, a lemon, and a brown ditto, all turn out to be Rosa semperflorens and common China roses; a yellow moss rose turns out to be the common moss rose, a double white the Cabbage Provins, and a tricolor the Rose de Meaux. ...

The Botanic Garden: Consisting of Highly Finished Representations, Volume 5 (1834-5)
Benjamin Maund
Rose Clare

The great variety of seedling Roses which are annually raised, both here and on the continent, renders it a matter of little interest to nurserymen to know their origin. The qualities which constitute the passport of a plant to public favour must, necessarily, be the most important subject of consideration.

The Floricultural Cabinet (Nov 1835)
Thomas Rivers, jun.

I have seen those two dark varieties, George the Fourth and the Tuscany, lose their colour and become blush, and changes as extreme take place in others: what I hope to accomplish is, to give an idea of what they ought to be in form and colour, under favourable circumstances of soil and situations; and where there is so much confusion as at present in the names and arrangement of Roses, to be among the first in attempting a correct nomenclature. This has now become more than ever necessary, as several auction sales of Roses took place the last planting season in London, when many worthless sorts were sold with good names appended to them, and many ancient varieties as "new seedlings." Some of the descriptions to these Roses were as near accuracy as the name given in one of these sale catalogues, to the "hybrid purple Laburnum," viz., "dark-red Laburnum"!! However, this powerful and imposing name tempted many to buy plants at prices varying upwards from 20s. each, although plants of the same variety were selling by many nurserymen at 5s. each. I have noticed these sales on account of the many erroneous names emanating from them, and beg to caution cultivators against admitting them into their Catalogues, till they have made enquiries as to their accuracy.

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.

The Rose Amateur's Guide (1837) p. v.
Thomas Rivers, Jr.

In forming a collection of roses from the French gardeners, great difficulty is often experienced by their incorrectness in the names of their plants: this inattention, to call it by no worse name, has long been the bane of commercial gardening. In this country almost every nurseryman is now aware of the great responsibility he is under as to correct nomenclature. But in France they manage these matters differently, certainly not 'better;' for if a Parisian cultivator raises a good rose from seed, and gives it a popular name, a provincial florist will immediately give some one of his seedlings, perhaps a very inferior rose, the name, so that there are often two or three roses bearing the same name; and if the original, or most superior variety, is ordered, ten to one if you get it, as the French florist generally gives you that which is most convenient for him to send, quite regardless of what you wish for. This is carried to an extreme, of which only those well and intimately acquainted with roses can form a just idea.

The Rose Manual pp. 103-104 (1847)
Robert Buist

Solfatare was sent to me, by its grower, four years ago, as a "superb Yellow Tea Rose, not equalled," and when it first bloomed, it fully maintained its Tea character, but as soon as I grew it on its own roots, it directly assumed the habit of our favourite Lamarque Noisette, with the young wood inclining more to yellow, and the foliage more pointed; in colour it is a bright sulphur yellow; very large and fully double, with an agreeable fragrance. When fully established, it flowers freely, and grows rapidly; it is perfectly hardy, and one of the most splendid of pillar roses; it is equally well adapted for training against trellises. An eastern or northern aspect, where it will have a portion of sun, will suit it best, and fully preserve its beautiful colour. In addition to this rose holding its character, it appears also to retain, as yet, its name (Solfatare) unchanged; few choice roses are so fortunate; I say so fortunate, for it is truly a disgrace to any vender or amateur to change the name of any rose knowingly, merely to prevent his brethren in the trade from reaping at once any benefit by procuring the article from its original source, or to deprive a co-lover and admirer of the rose from possessing the plant immediately, and from enjoying an equal pleasure with his neighbour. American growers are not so directly criminal in this respect; but they are frequently led into error by purchasing from some French importers, who, in many instances, have plants to suit any name or colour. It is surprising that we patiently submit to having the same dose of humbug so frequently administered to us. We are also occasionally caught by our English rose-growers, who, in visiting France, pick up the surplus stock of any new and choice rose, take it home, advertise boldly under a new name, and sell it at a golden price.

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 Florist, Volume 2(38): 269 (Mar 1, 1887)
"Rose Grower"

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?

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.

Vick's Monthly Magazine, 11: 117-118 (Feb 1888)
A. W., Placer Co., Cal.

One, who did not like red Roses, made out a list without one of that color. But a few months afterwards it was found that several belonged to the obnoxious class.

"KATE ELLICOTT," in the January number of this MAGAZINE, makes complaint about Storm King Fuchsia, and says it must have the best of care "or its flowers will not be a whit larger than Speciosa's." This is probably another case of "substitution." One of my friends purchased a veritable Storm King two years ago, and it was all that the advertiser claimed. The blossoms were immense, although it received only ordinary treatment. It was necessary to remove many of the buds, or the plant would have been broken by their weight. The Speciosa no more compares with it than the blossom of the Safrano Rose compares with that of American Beauty.

American Garden 110-111 (Mar 1888)

"This rose was received as Queen of Queens, which, as you know, was introduced a couple of years ago at a pretty high price. It was so attractively described that Mr. Velhausen quite set his heart on possessing it; but, as you can plainly see, it proves to be Achille Gonod, a result somewhat provoking, to say the least, and justifies the display of a little bad humor on his part." His dogmatic rejoinder was absolutely stunning, and came near annihilating my remaining remnant of self-possession. "If he has been misled by a glowing account of a rarity he was unacquainted with, then it's his own fault."

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

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."

American Florist 4(79): 156 (Nov 1888)

We give below a copy of a card posted up in the packing room of an establishment doing a catalogue trade, for the instruction of employes filling orders. This concern indignantly denies that substitution is ever practiced at their place, but admits that "errors will occur in spite of every precaution." After perusing this card it would seem that it would be largely an "error" for a customer to get even one variety ordered true to name.

Perle des Jardins Safrano
Jean Pernet
Mme. Margottin
Isabella Sprunt
Marie Van Houtte
Duchess Edinburg   Mme. de Vatry
Aline Sisley
Souv. de David
The Bride Cels, Tea
C. Cook
Mlle. Rachel
Mabel Morrison   Coquette des Blanches
Olga Marix
Perfection des Blanches

We are informed that the list is changed from time to time to suit the stock on hand. No wonder that they are always able to "fill complete" any order received.

Let us no longer dally with this matter. Decisive action is necessary. The substitutor is a criminal and should be punished as such. He is guilty of obtaining money on false pretenses.

If the trade or the national society 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. The Florist stands ready to publish to the trade the names of any who may be convicted.

The Garden: An Illustrated Weekly Journal of Gardening in All Its Branches, 34: 478 (Nov 24, 1888)

I notice that Messrs Crews, Cox and Co., of Gloucester, England, advertise a blue Rose, even Nemophila blue, which, of course, stamps the colour beyond question. I do not believe that they have a blue Rose of the colour of a Nemophila, and that none such will ever have an existence, but I am exceedingly curious to learn on what plea such a bold claim is made. — Peter Henderson, New

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.

The National Nurseryman 2(5): 55-56 (June 1894)
Rochester, NY

"It has occurred to me to recount some of the notorious swindles in horticulture caused by the lack of exclusive rights to new productions. After the Isabella grape had been generally disseminated, it was named Payne's Early and sold as a new variety earlier than Isabella. Being 'a product of nature,' there being no law against so doing, why should not the grower put money in his pocket by such means? Eureka was another name given to it at Attica, N.Y. That the Isabella has been frequently introduced under new names is shown by the fact that horticultural authorities mention as many as sixteen synonyms.

RNY: Nurerymen Opinions on Substitutions (1904)

A. H. Griesa, Kansas—I have had orders where half of the apples were Summer kinds; then I use my judgment and correct it by reducing the early and Fall kinds and increase the list of good Winter kinds. I think it is right, yes, more than right in doing so.

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!

Fhe Rose Annual (Royal National Rose Society) 38-53 (1975)
Tea-Scented Roses A Survey

Although 'Niphetos' was also used for breeding, of even greater importance was 'Mme Bravy', sent out in 1846. This is an excellent grower, very free with its cupped cream blooms with pink overtones and a fragrance which has been likened to "expensive face-cream". In the days when honesty in the horticultural trade left much to be desired, unscrupulous nurserymen across the Channel found it financially expedient to cash-in on the high reputation of 'Mme Bravy' by re-introducing it at various intervals under no fewer than six names.