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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Obsessed gardener looking for an old variety...


Begonia 'Gloire de Lorraine' (American Gardening, 1900)
Obsessed gardener looking for an old variety of Begonia, 'Gloire de Lorraine'.

Described by Buckner Hollingsworth in Gardening on Main Street (1968) ~

"From a tight cushion of bright green foliage a great many lax stems emerged, each tipped with only two flowers, but when these fade and fall the stem lengthens and two more flowers appear. There are so many stems of so many varying lengths that the plant becomes a fountain of rose-colored flowers."

Hollingsworth also called it by another common name "A Yard of Roses". 

I searched the Internet and found ;Gloire de Lorraine' in a place called the past. Indeed, the picture above is from an issue of American Gardening dated December 1, 1900.

I found another article about 'Gloire de Lorraine' dated 1968, the same year Gardening on Main Street was published. And I quote, "The decline in popularity of 'Gloire de Lorraine' Begonias can be chiefly attributed to their unsatisfactory response to the living room climate. The leaves tend to curl and turn yellowish, and usually sooner or later become attacked by mildew which rapidly renders the plant unsightly. Moreover, the plants are susceptible to bud drop, and the flower colour presents only a limited range: white or light to deep pink."

I still want it.

Someone who went by the initials H.G.L. wrote the editor of Country Life in America back in 1903, "anxious to learn the secret of success in this culture" of Begonia 'Gloire de Lorraine'. He lost nearly all his begonias and wanted to know how to save those he had left. The editor provided a lengthy answer describing when the begonia needs a period of rest, how to harden it off so the buds don't drop inside and more. He makes it seem just a bit challenging to keep this plant going from year to year.

I still want it.

But I don't think I'm going to get it. I think it really is in the past. I even checked the website of the American Begonia Society and they have just one reference to it in one article.

This is one of the pitfalls of reading old gardening books.  They often describe plants that are lost to the ages, cast aside in favor of newer, maybe better, varieties or hybrids.  I can find newer, maybe better, begonias which long ago replaced 'Gloire de Lorraine'.  I'm not sure I want them. I just wanted to grow the begonia Hollingsworth described.  Or at least try.

Obsessed gardener looking for an old variety of Begonia, 'Gloire de Lorraine'. If you find it, let me know.

2 comments:

Flower Freak said...

Carole, You never know....as word gets out you may find someone who grows it! Good luck, Sally

Matthew Stout said...

I hope you find it. I can relate to the desire. I have been crossing large doubles with more wild singles for a few years and I am noticing a common forms erupt in most seedlings, some orange, some pink, but all clearly distilling into some ancestral form or at least some lowest common denominator. And to me that is not at all bad, it is a hint of what once was.

A trip back in time to varieties that didn't fall over in bloom. Those of dozens of flowers, but of flowers they could bear without aid. And to those that still had new surprises in every next creative cross that led to the large double flowered, but nearly sterile, varieties that I started backwards from. Back to the the forms they saw before the wondrous excitement their work let them die remembering. I look at these more wild forms I have and feel kinship, and half the surprise they must have as a new an interesting creation sets bloom.

Living so close to a once capitol of begonia growing, I feel an even more immense connection to place as well as time.