Aug. 29th, 2016

lblanchard: (swannfountain)
[This is one in what has now become an almost-weekly series of postings inspired by Abigail Rorer, Mimpish Squinnies: Reginald Farrer's Short Guide to Worthless Plants. Rorer's book includes prints of fourteen plants Farrer considered worthless-- an interesting hybrid of botanically accurate and...different. You can see her work, including all fourteen mimpish squinnies, here: ]

I have limited time for mimpishness right now; there is a wonderful exhibition of impressionism in American gardens at the New York Botanical Garden, and we're going to see it Friday, so my head is full of American gardeners and American impressionists right now. So here is a quick one -- a watercolor by Reginald Farrer, Lilium hyacinthinum, reproduced in E. H. M. Cox, The Plant Introductions of Reginald Farrer (1930).

Farrer may have written about this species, but I did not find it in a quick search of my pdfs of his two travel books, nor in the pdf of his The English Rock-Garden. It may be mentioned in one of his dispatches to The Gardener's Chronicle from his last expedition, but those are not easily searchable. A search at the Biodiversity Heritage Library brings up several references to the plant, but none by Farrer. Here is what he says about Lilium in general:

Lilium.--We will not turn our overburdened eyes in this direction, lest we should never be able to turn them away again, for thinking of the hot limestone rocks in the far South where L. pomponium hangs among the brushwood in balls of scarlet fire, above the dancing clear blue flames of Aquilegia Reuteri; or the alpine meadows filled with the stark and stalwart chimes of L. Martagon; or the dark sombre cliffs of the Cottians where L. croceum finds root-home where none can be, in the smallest ledges of the cliff, till up and down the sheer and terrible walls twinkle at you from afar a thousand little sparks of flame that are the golden goblets of the lily, held up to catch the daylight in the darkness of the precipice, and radiate it forth again in living fire. But are there not books of such matters, to be bought for 1s. 9d.? Let these then be purchased; for indeed Lilium is no special race for the rock-garden, and, though all its members are always and everywhere to be desired and worshipped, they are not so special for the rock-garden as for beds especially made on their behalf, where their cult may be unstinted and unchallenged.

Reginald Farrer, The English Rock-Garden, Vol. 1, p. 450

(I love the Old English-y, Anglo-Saxon-ish construction "root-home" -- something the Beowulf poet might have used.)

These days the plant goes by the unwieldy name Notholirion bulbuliferum (Lingelsh.) Stearn SPECIES. and has a collection of synonyms: Liliastrum bulbuliferum, Notholirion campanulatum, Notholirion hyacinthinum, and Paradisea bulbulifera.

more photos here )

I imagine next Monday I will still be full of the wonders of the New York Botanical Garden...


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