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: ]

Here's a charming plant from Abigail Rorer's little shop of horrors: Rubus australis. Reginald Farrer doesn't like it one little bit, either:

Rubus australis, as imagined by Abigail Rorer

Rubus.—Upon England has China in these latter days cast
forth from all her hedgerows and highway-sides so appalling a collection
of invasive and hideous great brambles that we have given up
all effort to say pleasant things about them (as at first their cultivators
pathetically and piously attempted), and have even developed an
undiscerning general disgust, in consequence, with the whole misguided
country that has burdened us with such horrors. For the rockgarden,
however, there are some pleasant and quite small brambles,
all well suited in a sunny but not parched place in stony peaty loam.
R. arcticus from the far North, that once was thought to have lodgment
in Scotland, is an erect little running raspberry of 6 inches or so,
with large cheery pink flowers, followed by fruits no less exhilarating
in their own way. Care should be taken, however, to got the fruitbearing
form of the plant, which is sold as R. a.fecundus. R. saxatilis,
a common species of our Northern limestones, is hardly worth a place,
though neat and modest ; and no one seems ever for long or thoroughly
to succeed with the Cloudberry, though on the moors of Ingleborough
and all the North it makes carpets of many a hundred-yard width,
with its one or two broad-lobed leaves on the upstanding stem of
4 or 5 inches, which first bears up a single erect white blossom, and
then replaces it with a succulent fruit, which is of a golden amber when
ripe, like a very big and large-carpelled Raspberry, with the sharp
sweetness of the Pomegranate. This is the staple jam-fruit of the
Scandinavian moors, but the Cloudberry, though so placid a native of
our high places, seems almost more reluctant to descend from its
ridiculous molehills and be happy in the garden, than does the King
of the Alps himself from the great mountains of the world.

And, finally, there are the Bush-lawyers of New Zealand—terrible spiny
affairs with long thin arms beset with millions of minute but efficient
ivory spines and hooks. Such are R. parvus (dwarf and prostrate,
with a large fruit—an eccentricity in an Australasian Rubus),
schmideloeides, and australis—this last being the only one
that has effected a home in English gardens, where its chief merit
is that it is not quite hardy, so that in time you may be relieved from
the inhospitable massed mess that it forms of spidery-thin and almost
leafless branchage, accumulating into an inextricable mound of white
wiry whipcord, armed with insatiable little teeth as numerous, vicious,
and ivorine as those of sharks, though not so large. There is practically
no foliage, and neither flower nor fruit would be worth contemplation
even if they ever condescended to appear. This should be planted
in a cold dank place (if you want it to die) ; if, however, the giver of it
lives near, and pays you frequent visits, you will have to assign it a
warm sheltered and sunny place in the foreground, in light and well-drained
soil—under no other pressure of circumstances to be so wasted.
--Reginald Farrer, The English Rock-Garden, Vol. 2, with paragraph break
added for legibility for our twenty first-century eyes

Here's an image from Wikipedia:

By Rudolph89 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It doesn't look that terribly fearsome, but I haven't tried to lay hands on it.

You can find a bit more about it, from a less opinionated source, here:

And you can peruse a whole series of images here:
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