WITH COLOURED PLATES
VOL. III Pages 129-130
CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED : LONDON, PARIS & NEW YORK.
"How is it that aquatic plants are seldom or never brought under the influence of hybridism? They are objects of great beauty, are and always must be much in request, and appear to be just as submissive to man as other plants. Their constitutions may certainly be affected by crossing, quite as much as the Rhododendron. Yet, while the tender crimson species of the Indian Rhododendron are brought to act upon the hardy pale faces of the United States, the delicate white Water Lily of our rivers is left to wild nature in the presence of the most glowing tints possessed by her tropical kindred.
"It may be said that there are physical difficulties in the way of crossing Water Lilies. We grant it. The yellow Nuphars are not likely to breed with the white and blue and crimson Nymphæas, and perhaps Victoria may refuse all alliance with either. But then it is the same everywhere; a Currant will not breed with a Gooseberry, nor an Apple with a Pear. Nevertheless, Gooseberries find kindred blood among Gooseberries, and Currants among Currants: and why may it not also happen to the Nymphæas themselves? This sort of crossing is certainly possible. It has been done.
"Some years since mules were obtained in the Horticultural Garden between the tender blue Nymphæas of the Cape of Good Hope and the hardy white one of England. But owing to neglect they were allowed to perish, and that experiment came to nothing.
"The plant under notice is a mule produced by crossing Nymphæa rubra with N. lotus.
"Seeds were obtained in the autumn of 1850, and from them in the following summer Sir Joseph Paxton had the gratification of finding himself in the possession of a most beautiful hybrid, which he named Devoniensis, after the Duke, his patron. In leaf and flower it has the great advantage in point of size and robustness of growth over either of its parents; but its most valuable property is its continuing to flower the whole of the season without intermission. The parent plant produced its first flower as early as the 12th of April, 1851, and continued to flower until the middle of October, when it was removed, with a fine succession of flower-buds still upon the plant, to its winter quarters. During this period it often had two expanded flowers and five buds in different stages of development. It produces its flowers quite as freely as N. dentata ; and its beautiful colour (which is not quite so deep as its parent), together with its fine leaves which have seldom been less that thirteen to seventeen inches across, render it one of the best Nymphæas in cultivation.
"Let us hope that this example will not be thrown away. There can be no difficulty in operating to any extent upon the white Nymphæa, which we should take for the mother of the brood that it is hoped will come."
The plant thus referred to in the Gardener's Chronicle is now represented from a specimen received from Chatsworth, and it will be admitted that it deserves all that was said of it. It has also been published in the Botanical Magazine by Sir W. Hooker, who states that for the opportunity of figuring this truly splendid plant he is indebted "to Mrs. Spode, the lady of Joshua Spode, Esq., Armitage Park, Rugely, Staffordshire, whose gardens and rare exotics are celebrated in the neighborhood, and are likely to be still more so from the taste and skill displayed by their generous proprietors, and by the zeal and energy of their intelligent head gardener." Sir William adds that the living plant at Kew, from Mrs. Spode, as well as the cut specimens received from Armitage, and others sent by Mr. Davison from Sir W. Molesworth's tropical aquarium at Pencarrow, Cornwall, amply justify all that is said in the Gardener's Chronicle.
Mr. Davison observes, that with him Devoniensis grows and flowers most freely, planted in rough turf taken from a pasture and laid in a heap one year previous to its being used, with one-sixth of dried cow-dung. The water in the tank in which it grows is kept at 75° to 80°.
We should add that Sir W. Hooker raises the question of whether N. dentata may not have been one of the parents of N. Devoniensis, rather than N. Lotus. He remarks that N. Lotus and N. dentata are very closely allied species, if they be really and truly distinct. He thinks that the pale and depressed calyx of N. dentata, giving that part a somewhat conical form, furnishes what may perhaps prove a distinguishing mark, and that character he finds in N. Devoniensis. Mr. Davison, at Pencarrow Gardens, also speaks of the N. Devoniensis as "a hybrid between N. rubra and N. dentata."