lblanchard: (swannfountain)
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[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: ]

Reginald Farrer, as I mentioned earlier, had an ambivalent relationship to gentians: loving some, loathing others, and a true evangelical about their proper care. Gentiana is a well-populated genus, and Rorer includes two among her mimpish squinnies: G. brevidens and this one, G. punctata.

Farrer devoted a full thirty pages (pp. 361-391, vol. 1) to gentians, plus other scattered references throughout The English Rock-Garden, along with numerous other references in his other works. All the choicest bits about their care show up in my G. brevidens post, link below, if you'd like to revisit them -- but here's a bit of overview after the cut tag, as well as links to my two earlier entries.

G. punctata, from Abigail Rorer's Mimpish Squinnies
Note the little froggy eyes -- this will be important later

Gentiana. Take it all in all, perhaps Gentiana offers the rock-garden more glory than any other race, and more persistently denies it...

Gentiana is a race of extraordinary diffusion and diversity, alike in habit and colour. The Gentians of the New World are hardly less abundant than those of the Old; and on the Arctic rims of the North, their fame is hardly less widespread than on the Antarctic of the South. Nor is the race less various in size and colour, ranging from the statuesque proportions of G. venosa to the minute charm of G. imbricata. In colour, too, it contains every note of the prism, from the dazzling azure of G. verna, the sombre browns of G. purpurea, the clear lovely purple of G. pyrenaica, and on, through the yellows of G. lutea towards the delicate waxy pinks and whites of G. concinna and G. cerina (none of the New Zealanders being blue, and none of the Himalayans anything else). All of these can be raised from seed, but with care and slowly; all the alpine tufts can be propagated by cuttings, but with equal care; but established tufts of Gentian should always be left alone, lest a worse thing befall. Their blooming season fills the summer; the high-alpines usually take up the fading mantle of G. verna in July, and continue on through the glories of the Asclepiadea group, with G. verna very often reappearing in September and October to finish the round that it began in May; while G. Gentianella, the old G. acaulis, is nearly always finely in bloom at Christmas and throughout the earlier part of the winter. All the species in the following list (whioh ought to prove helpful up to date for the best), are perennials, with a very few stated exceptions...

And now for Gentiana punctata (pp. 383-384):

By 1a2a3a4 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

G. punctata, unlike G. pannonica, prefers the non-calcareous Alps, where it is abundantly found in the higher alpine pastures, bringing reproach on G. lutea by the faithful way it imitates the habit of its superior in stout stem, clad in stout pairs of corrugated light green leaves, but only about a foot high, and ending in a head of flowers (with one or two axillary in the last of the leaves, but not nearly as well fumished as in G. punctata), which, instead of being gay and numerous, smallish, starry, and brilliant yellow, are few and very large - deeply baggy six-lobed bells, of the dingiest and sickliest greenish pallor that it would be possible for even the grossest flatterer to call yellow; and, even so, they are speckled with darkness inside till you feel you are looking into the throat of a sick frog for whom you have been called in to prescribe against the jaundice. No difficulty attends the culture of this treasure in cool peaty soil, and in full sun.

I don't think it looks all that bad, and it certainly doesn't look like a view down the throat of a sick frog (except in Rorer's depiction, which includes little froggy eyes and even a little froggy uvula). A Google image search brings up lots of interesting pictures, mostly copyrighted:
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