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Full text of "Old-fashioned garden flowers"

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UNIVERSITY OF ILIINOIS LIBRARY AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 



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Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



BY 



DONALD CULROSS PEATTIE 



THE LIBRA 

DEC 3 

^NlVERSITr ( 




Botany 
Leaflet 19 



FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY 

CHICAGO 
1936 



The Botanical Leaflets of Field Museum are designed to give 
brief, non-technical accounts of various features of plant life, especially 
with reference to the botanical exhibits in Field Museum, and of the 
local flora of the Chicago region. 

LIST OF BOTANICAL LEAFLETS ISSUED TO DATE 

No. 1. Figs $ .10 

No. 2. The Coco Palm 10 

No. 3. Wheat .10 

No. 4. Cacao . 10 

No. 5. A Fossil Flower 10 

No. 6. The Cannon-ball Tree 10 

No. 7. Spring Wild Flowers .25 

No. 8. Spring and Early Summer Wild Flowers . . .25 

No. 9. Summer Wild Flowers 25 

No. 10. Autumn Flowers and Fruits 25 

No. 11. Common Trees (second edition) 25 

No. 12. Poison Ivy 15 

No. 13. Sugar and Sugar-making 25 

No. 14. Indian Corn 25 

No. 15. Spices and Condiments 25 

No. 16. Fifty Common Plant Galls of the Chicago Area .25 

No. 17. Common Weeds 25 

No. 18. Common Mushrooms 50 

No. 19. Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 25 

STEPHEN C. SIMMS, Director 

FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY 
CHICAGO, U. S. A. 



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Field Museum of Natural History 

DEPARTMENT OP BOTANY 
Chicago, 1936 

Leaflet Number 19 
Copyright 1936 by Field Museum of Natural History 

OLD-FASHIONED GARDE^jJe FifcOWiSi^S 
DEC 3 -1936 

Our grandmothers and grandfathers grew many flow- 
ers now seldom seen and best known through old prints, 
poems, and family traditions. The change in our garden 
flora is due to several causes. The addition of the best of 
Japanese and Chinese horticulture to traditional English 
gardening resulted in newer, bigger, brighter blossoms, 
more continuously in bloom, which naturally superceded 
old and more modest plants. 

But not all old-fashioned flowers were modest. A good 
many are out of favor precisely because of their bold 
hues. Our forebears esteemed "nosegays" of tumultuous 
colors more than we; they admired "foliage plants" and 
freaks and sports and excessive "doubling." Also they 
grew a number of plants rather for their medicinal proper- 
ties than for their beauty. 

Nevertheless, some of their garden pets were charming 
and deserve to be better known today. They are still to 
be procured and it is a pity to be led by fashion in so 
perennial a world as the flowers'. 

In this little leaflet shrubs, house plants, and kitchen 
garden "seasonings" have not been included. Excluded 
too are many flowers that are just as popular today as 
formerly, like hollyhocks, pansies, stocks, and snap- 
dragons. 



Field Museum of Natural History 




JOB'S TEARS 

(Coix Lacryma-Johi) 

This loose growing annual grass from the East Indies 
was grown for its "beads" or "tears." This structure, a 
woody thickening of the flower-stalk, contains the female 
flowers; the male flowers protrude from it. When polished 
and strung together these gray "tears" make interesting 
necklaces. Magical properties are often ascribed to these 
beads. The culture of Job's Tears is continued in the 
southern mountains. A variety with white-striped leaves 
is a favorite. 

East Indian annual. Grass family. Summer. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 




GRAPE-HYACINTH 

(Muscari botryoides) 

Grape Hyacinth, often called Blue Bottles, resembles 
Hyacinth in a general way. The little jug-shaped flowers 
hang thickly from the short stalk, and are white, lilac, 
or generally an intense blue-purple, like grape. Their 
odor, called by some musky and by others likened to the 
smell on a baby's mouth, lingers in the memory. Where 
old gardens have been. Grape Hyacinths remain, lost 
amid the grasses; if they had more inches they would 
still be popular. 

European bulbous perennial, Lily family, Early Spring. 



Field Museum of Natural History 




CROWN IMPERIAL 

{Fritillaria imperialis) 

A very fancy sort of fritillary was this plant with its 
drooping yellow or red, single or double bells and its flaring 
bracts. The leaves were often white- or yellow-striped, 
and the whole plant was showy enough for any taste — but 
a bad odor has caused its banishment in favor of the 
lovely Checquered Fritillaries of today. This bulbous 
flower came from temperate western Asia. 

Asiatic bulbous perennial, Lily family. Early Spring. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 




TIGER LILY 

(Ldlium tigrinum) 

This superb lily, easiest of all to grow, ought not to 
be neglected even for the new lilies. The stem, 2-7 feet 
high, is purplish brown covered with white down, and 
bearing up to 100 deep green leaves. The flowers, 1-15 
on a stalk, have bright salmon red segments spotted 
purplish black. Double forms occur, the only good double 
lilies known. 

Asiatic bulbous perennial, Lily family. Early Summer. 



Field Museum of Natural History 




JONQUIL 

( Narcissus Jonquilla) 

The name Jonquil is often wrongly applied to the 
Daffodil. Jonquils are known by their quill-shaped leaves, 
each slender stem bearing 2-6 small golden yellow flowers 
with a very low crown at the center. They exhale an 
intense, sweet perfume. For reasons not comprehensible, 
this exquisite flower, native in the Mediterranean basin, 
is not often grown now. The broad-mouthed Hoop- 
Petticoat Daffodil (Narcissus hulhocodium) which looked 
like a lady in yellow crinolines, is also seldom seen today. 

European bulbous perennials, Amaryllis family. Early 
Spring. 



Old-Fash lONED Garden Flowers 



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FOUR O'CLOCK 

{Mirabilis Jalapa) 

Often called Marvel of Peru, this white, red, or yellow 
flower opens in the afternoon or stays open all day in 
cloudy weather. This elegantly shaped flower fell into 
disfavor because it is not suitable for picking, and a hurried 
age is less interested in watching the leisurely opening of 
nocturnal flowers. Mirabilis longiflora is another and 
more aristocratic species, deliciously fragrant at night, 
but it is now quite unknown to most gardeners. 

Tropical .American annual, Four O'Clock family, 
Summer, . 



10 



Field Museum of Natural History 




Ai 



COCK'S COMB 

{Celosia cristata) 

When brought to what the judge of the county fair 
considers perfection, the farm wife's Cock's Comb is a 
sport with wizened leaves, flattened stem and a crinkled 
mass of what looks like red, yellow, purple, orange, or 
amaranthine velvet. But it is in reality a contorted 
inflorescence. Cock's Comb is, however, returning to 
style. 

Tropical annuals. Pigweed family. Summer. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



11 




LOVE LIES BLEEDING 

{Amaranthns caudatus) 

Transformed from the barnyard Pigweed by having 
its clustered flowers turned to blood red is this old favorite. 
Prince's Feather (Amaranthus hypochondriachus) was a 
similar, heavy-headed species with flowers like red or 
purple plush, once greatly admired. Amaranthus gange- 
ticus is another species, often called Joseph's Coat, which 
is still sometimes grown as a pot herb in Chinatown under 
the name of Hon-toi-moi. 

Tropical annuals, Pigweed family, Summer. 



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12 



Field Museum of Natural History 




SWEET WILLIAM 
{Dianthus harhatus) 

An old English herbal tells us that "Sweet Williams are 
worthy the respect of the Greatest Ladies who are Lovers of 
Flowers." The French name "oeillet" seems to have been 
corrupted to "Willy" — whence our William. This prim 
flower stands as crisp and bright in the garden as girls 
in calico. 

European perennial, Pink family, Summer. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



13 




CLOVE PINK 
(Dianthtis CaryophyUus) 

This lovely flower, the single or hardy Carnation, was 
the Gillyflower about which the first colonists often wrote 
though that name is now applied to the Stock. The old 
Garden Pink or Pheasant's Eye, a gay but untidy flower, 
illustrates that the modern color adjective "pink" comes 
from these flowers, named thus because they were 
"pinked" or slit, fringed, or spotted. 

European perennial. Pink family, Summer. 



14 



Field Museum of Natural History 




LONDON PRIDE 

(Lychnis chalcedonica) 

A flower of magic and Midsummer Eve, this was called 
"Flower of Jerusalem." From Japan it travelled westward, 
and the Crusaders are said to have brought it home, 
together with lilies and saffron. The old English name 
for it is Maltese Cross. Only in New England was it 
called London Pride. Its uncompromising scarlet is, 
nowadays, considered too clashing with most other garden 
hues. Dusty Miller (Lychnis coronaria) is a dignified old 
flower with solitary dark red blossoms. 

European perennials. Pink family. Summer. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



15 




PORTULACA 

(Portulaca grandiflora) 

In the century since it was discovered on hot plains of 
southern Brazil, Portulaca has risen and fallen again in 
favor. Often the railway station-master grows them in 
his cindery garden, for they are as robust as the taste to 
which their bright colors appeal. With their orange, rose, 
scarlet, crimson, deep red and pure white blossoms, they 
make a Topsy's bouquet. On cloudy days Portulacas sulk 
and close their eyes. 

Tropical American annual, Portulaca family. Summer. 



16 



Field Museum of Natural History 




BOUNCING BET 

(Saponaria officinalis) 

People gave Bouncing Bet an honorable place in the 
olden garden. Her somewhat insipid pink petals (often 
double) and her rustic aroma (scarcely a perfume) were 
not scorned in a more innocent age. But with improving 
standards, and the influx of Oriental horticulture, she 
was seen to be a bit plebeian and now she lives like a waif 
in the ditches and streets. These she graces, still fresh, 
buxom, and, indeed, irrepressible. 

European perennial, Pink family, Summer. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



17 




MONKSHOOD 

(Aconitum Napellus) 

Deep blue-purple were the cowls of Monkshood in old 
style "back borders." But blue-and-white varieties are 
also known. The leaves look like a Larkspur's. Being an 
autumn flower, this is a choice addition to the garden, 
but its intensely poisonous nature inspires fear. Even 
honey made from its nectar is dangerous. The root yields 
a powerful drug. 

European perennial, Buttercup family, Autumn. 



18 



Field Museum of Natural History 




BLEEDING HEART 

{Dicentra spectahilis) 

Although this brilliant flower with rosy red petals 
(the inner white) only reached England in 1847 from the 
island of Chusan, it was taken up rapidly in popular favor 
and is rich in old home associations. It is related to our 
native Dutchman's Breeches, but is far showier, like an 
old-fashioned valentine. 

Japanese perennial, Fumitory family. Spring. 



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Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



19 




WALLFLOWER 

{Cheiranthus Cheiri) 

A native of Greece, this flower with its odor of violets 
is still a favorite in England. Here it must be treated like 
a biennial, which is its only obvious drawback. Its petals 
are either a rich sunset yellow veined with brown, or a soft 
glowing Rembrandt brown, darker veined. A happy 
brown is a rare shade in gardens and was rightly prized 
by our grandmothers. 

European perennial. Mustard family. Spring. 



20 Field Museum op Natural History 




HONESTY 

(Lunaria annua) 

The English traveller, Josselyn, who visited Boston 
first in 1638, reported that "White Satten groweth pretty- 
well." Gerarde, last of the great herbalists, wrote: "We 
call this herbe, in Norfolk, sattin, and among our women 
it is called honestie." Pope's Money is another old name. 
It is not the pink-red flowers (too sickly for some tastes— 
but there are blue and white varieties) that gave this 
plant its favor, but the satiny partitions between the pods, 
like silver coins, which make a lasting winter bouquet. 

European annual, Mustard family. Spring. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



21 




GIANT SPIDER PLANT 

{Cleome spinosa) 

In old southern gardens this striking flower, with its 
long blue or purple stamens, spreading like slender spidery 
legs sprawling from the great frail, clawed petals, is still a 
favorite with country people. The petals are white to 
rose-purple. The drawbacks of this showy flower are its 
clammy stem and strong odor. It is giving place to its 
relative. Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (Cleome serrulata), 
which is free of its disadvantages. 

Tropical American annual. Caper family. Summer. 



22 



Field Museum of Natural History 




HEN-AND-CHICKENS 

{Sempervivum tectorum) 

Like an old hen ruffling out her plumes to shelter her 
scurrying chickens is this fussy rosette of fleshy leaves, 
with its many little rooted offsets clustered about it. 
The specific name tectorum, meaning "of the house-tops" 
indicates where it was grown in Old World villages. Our 
forefathers greatly admired a curiosity, especially a 
facetious one, like this Houseleek. But the modern favor, 
in the same vein, has deserted the Sedum family, and gone 
over to Cacti. 

European perennial, Sedum family. Summer. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



23 




DITTANY 
{Didamnus albus) 

Both stem and aloof white flowers of Dittany, called 
also Gas Plant or Burning Bush, give off a volatile oil 
that great-grandfather liked to ignite with a spark from 
his flint. This feat can be performed (if at all) on still, 
heavy summer evenings, the oil being thickest just below 
the flowers. The glossy, lemon-scented leaves are valuable 
for the back border. Some clumps have been known to 
outlive father, son, and grandson. 

Eurasian perennial. Citrus family, Summer. 



24 



Field Museum of Natural History 




GARDEN BALSAM 

{Impatiens Balsamina) 

Closely related to the Touch-me-nots of our woods, 
the Garden Balsam reached England from India in 1596. 
Modern garden esthetes would permit us to grow white or 
pink balsams, but the kinds that they liked in the old 
colonies were bold red and yellow balls of big double 
flowers. This is the kind that the Pennsylvania Dutch- 
man still grows, along with portulacas and tub oleanders. 

Tropical annual, Touch-me-not family. Summer. 



p 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



26 




PRIMROSE 
(Primula acaulis) 

The aboriginal Primrose, at least in European garden- 
ing, is this species with pale gold, faintly fragrant flowers 
that are borne close to the earth in a nest of light green 
leaves rather like those of young lettuce. Many better 
"picking" species, and more brilliant colors, have come to 
replace it, yet it remains the most refined and lovable of 
them all. Primroses are still grown at Mount Vernon and 
sold in the streets of Washington by old negroes. But 
they are really ultra-English flowers, linked by various 
traditions to the names of Shakespeare, Milton, Darwin, 
Wordsworth and Disraeli. 

European perennial, Primrose family, Spring. 



26 



Field Museum op Natural History 





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VALERIAN 

{Valeriana oficinalis) 

Valerian or Garden Heliotrope got into the olden 
garden because of its medicinal roots. The medicine 
tasted and smelled so bad that grandmother was sure it 
must be good for you. The odor of the flowers, however, 
is delicate and spicy. The individual little tubular flow- 
ers, white or lavender, are not impressive but the whole 
head makes a filmy "softener" for bouquets that may 
return to style, to vary the perpetual Baby's Breath. 

European perennial, Valerian family. Summer. 




ELECAMPANE 
{Inula Helenium) 

The puritan Fathers wouldn't have felt safe about 
their healths in this un-Christian New World, without 
their "Enula Campana." The flowers with 40 or more 
long slender yellow rays, are really very handsome, almost 
like sunflowers. The carrot-like roots yield the medicine 
which is still known to prescription chemists. Inula 
buhonium and Inula dysenterica were also grown, as sup- 
posed specifics against plague and dysentery. 

European perennials, Daisy family, Summer-Autumn. 



28 Field Museum of Natural History 




TANSY 

(Tanacetum vulgare) 

The greatest charm of Tansy is its feathery dark 
foliage. The rayless sultry flowers are scarcely attractive, 
and the odor of the plant is rank and irritating. Tansy 
was an old ladies' bitter-tasting tonic and Tansy leaves 
were put into Puritan's Easter cakes (to take the joy out 
of them, mayhap). Some doctors consider the plant rank 
poison. Tansy is still grown in country gardens, and is 
escaped in the Atlantic states, especially around Boston. 

European perennial, Daisy family, Autumn. 



Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 



29 




CHAMOMILE 

(Anthemis nohilis) 

Chamomile tea was taken in the days of Washington 
by the best of men. Even today the worst of doctors may 
prescribe it. It is also used as a hair rinse, but in the 
garden we seldom see its white rays, which are short but 
pleasing. The fragrant foliage is really very dainty. 
Golden Marguerite {Anthemis tinctoria), with yellow 
rays, is not genuine Chamomile, and its aroma is too 
pungent. 

European perennials, Daisy family. Summer. 



30 



Field Museum op Natural History 




FEVERFEW 

(Chrysanthemum Parthenium) 

"Feather-fewe" is mentioned as a New England garden 
plant so early that it must have arrived with the founders 
of Boston. Its growth is bushy, 3-4 feet tall. No cure for 
fevers, it was grown apparently for its feathery leaves. 
A variety with yellow foliage is still used as a bedding 
plant under the name of Golden Feather. Costmary 
(Pyrethrum Balsamita) was also grown for its aromatic 
leaves. 

Eurasian perennials, Daisy family. Summer. 



THE ILLUSTRATIONS 

The frontispiece of this leaflet is from an old illustra- 
tion in Flore des Serres, 1847. The photographs of Crown 
Imperial, Grape Hyacinth, Jonquil, Sweet William, Clove 
Pink, London Pride, Monk's Hood, Bleeding Heart, Hen 
and Chickens, Dittany, Primrose and Elecampane were 
loaned by Wayside Gardens, Mentor, Ohio; Tiger Lily 
and Valerian by A. B, Morse Company, St. Joseph, 
Michigan; Wallflower by Vaughan's Seed Store, Chicago. 
Job's Tears is from a United States Department of Agri- 
culture publication. All other photographs were made 
by Hermann Lusche in gardens about Chicago. 

THE UBI?/'"Y OF THE 

DEC 3-1936 

MWIVERSriY OF ruiNnilc