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Godetias were much used in the past. The large azalea type blooms were much esteemed for cutting.
Godetias went out of favour due to their straggly habit ,that meant time consuming staking.
Here are some of the favourite varieties from the Edwardian era. The names are wonderfully
evocative of that time. All grew to around 24". Hardy Annuals.
Godetia "Lord Roberts": Salmon
Godetia "Duke of York": Deep red.
Godetia "Duchess of Albany.":White
Godetia "Lady Satin Rose": Pink.
The Pot/English/Scotch Marigold or Calendula officinales has been cultivated for almost 500 years, initially as a culinary herb, then just for it's decorative value.
The types most prized at the turn of the Twentieth Century, had 4" double flowers in shades of orange and yellow and grew up to 3 ft tall. Hardy Annual
Favorite types used were:
Calendula "Lemon Queen."
Calendula "Orange King."
Calendula "Meteor.": Ochre yellow striped lemon.
Calendula "Prince Of Orange.": Orange with lemon stripes.
Calendula "Sulphur Queen."
Heliotrope or cherry pie as it was known was a far more popular plant in Victorian times. Known today as a deep blue scented, if unspectacular plant.
The Victorians adored it and had several named varieties in surprising colours.All were listed as growing to between 1 ft. and 3 ft. tall.
The popular varieties were:
Heliotopium "Madame Braunt.": Mauve.
Heliotopium "Paul Pfitzer.": Lavender.
Heliotopium "President Garfield.": Mauve.
Heliotopium "Priapo.": Blue with a white eye.
Heliotopium "Roi de Noirs.": Deep maroon.
Heliotopium "White Lady."
Perfumed flowers were adored by the Victorians and Sweet Alyssum, (Lobularia maritima.), was no exception with it's honey scent.
Used then, as now as a dwarf edging plant, all grew no more than 4"tall. Popular varieties grown were:
"Little Dorrit.": White.
Many people are reluctant to use pesticides and one old fashioned alternative that works well is to use a solution of washing-up liquid to kill greenfly.
Use a "squirt" of washing up liquid to a bucket of cold water and apply using a fine mist sprayer.
Spray both sides of the leaves until run off.Do this in evening,when the sun is off the bushes to prevent scorch.
It can be a breeze to over winter a scented geranium using these simple techniques. Simply put your plant is a cool, frost free location with plenty of light and water only when the leaves begin to wilt. However, when you do water, water well, but do not let the plant sit in water.
The Victorians and Edwardians loved their brightly colored flame nettles or Coleus. No self respecting conservatory owner would be without even the most modest collection of these gaudily colored beauties.
The good news is that named Coleus are back in fashion.The trend for modern conservatory and patio type plants has seen an increased demand for these plants.
The named varieties are far superior in habit and flower less than those grown from mixed seed.
Look out for these named Coleus and why not start a collection.
"Paisley Shawl": Small, multi colored foliage in the form of the Paisley Pattern awn.
"Pineapplette" : Wonderful frilly yellow spotted maroon leaves.
"Red Velvet" : Large crimson with glowing red edges.
"Rose Blush": Pale yellow flushed pink.
"Pineapple Beauty":Very dark maroon tipped lime green.
"Midnight": Darkest purple with lime green margins.
"Display": Orange with yellow edges.
"Peter's Wonder" Base color green, with purple and red blotch at base, yellow veins and thin crimson edge to the frilly leaf.
"Red Stinger" Speckled maroon and red with a light green edge.
"Walter Turner" Light green base with a red centre.
Eschscholzia, the brightly coloured Californian Poppy had many popular named varieties in the early years of the Last Century, when generally mixed colours were frowned upon.
Have a look at the wonderful range of single coloured varieties from that time.
"Diana.": Pale yellow and rose.
"Golden West.": Gold and orange.
"Frilled Pink.": Pink and cream.
"Mandarin": Orange, scarlet and gold.
"Orange Queen.": Deep orange and yellow.
"Ruby King": Crimson.
Candytuft nowadays, is seen as too easily grown to take seriously. Amazingly, it was at one time an important part of summer bedding schemes and seen as a "Florist"flower.
Forms such as Rocket , Hyacinth flowered and Spiral were highly revered.
Some popular varieties of yesteryear were :
"White Spiral", "White Rocket", "Rose Queen" and "Little Prince."
The Mignonettes were highly regarded and amongst the most popularof the scented annuals, during the Victorian era.
Botanically known as Reseda, the type known as R. odorata with greenish/white conical heads of flowers in those days, had buff-yellow, orange-buff, cream, golden and red varieties, now lost.
The African Marigold, (Tagetes erecta), of yesteryear was a very different plant to the popular types available today.
Single flowered types, that looked like big orange daisies were popular, which are never seen now, ( Anyone who has ever had a rogue single flowered seedling , I'm sure will agree they are not of great beauty.)
Double flowered sorts were gaining in popularity at the turn of the 20th century. Every seedsman had their own strains sold by colour.
The colour range , then as now was limited to shades of orange and yellow.The main differences were that African Marigolds could not be had in bloom till late summer and the plants were often 3 ft tall.
A couple of popular named sorts were:
"Giant Orange": Double. 2.5 ft tall.
"Orange Beauty": Single 3 ft tall.
The wildflower, Anagallis arvensis, the Pimpernel was popular in it's red and blue forms.
The small star shaped blooms were known as Poor Man's Weather Glass as they closed when rain threatened. All grew 6-8" tall.
Wonderfully named sorts that even at the turn of the last Century were hard to come by were:
Anagallis linifolia "Willmoreana": Purple with a yellow eye.
Anagallis linifolia "Napoleon 111: Maroon.
Anagallis linifolia "Sanguinea": Ruby.
Anagallis linifolia "Phillipsii": Red.
Anagallis linifolia "Parksii": Red.
In many ways new varieties improve on old types- vigour, disease resistance,compactness, brighter flowers.
You only need look at African Marigolds to appreciate the skills of the plant breeder: Old types,such as crackerjack mixed grew to hedge like proportions and bloomed in late summer.
New marigolds such as Antigua , flower at 8" tall from early summer onwards.
Old varieties of plants still have a place in the cottage type garden.
Old fashioned flowers have charm ,simplicity,grace of growth and in some types, a perfume that are missing in more modern types.
The historical value is of great interest. There is something magical about growing flowers that our ancestors would have had in their gardens.
The French Marigolds that were by far the most popular, in the early years of the 20th century, were the dwarf singles.
Tall, single flowering forms that grew to 3 ft were going out of favour and the double "carnation flowered"and Peony centred types, that are so popular these days, were felt to be vulgar.
The Edwardians favoured the yellows, browns and rust shades and strangely , no mention was made of the orange shades that we all take for granted nowadays.
Popular sorts, (all growing between 6" and 8" tall.), were:
"Cloth of Gold": Rich yellow.
"Diadem": Chestnut and red and yellow.
"Legion of Honour": Yellow and brown.
"Silver King": Pale yellow and maroon.
"Star of India": Crimson , striped yellow.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|