John Baron Photo

 'Mrs. Robert Sawyer'
or 'Independence'?

By Walter Pagels
Click images to enlarge

In trying to determine the correct name as well as the correct identity of the waterlily being sold as N. 'Independence', Walter Pagels has written the following:

We find the following waterlily description in the William Tricker Inc. 1928 Catalog:

MRS. ROBERT SAWYER (1927). Mrs. Sawyer, our most popular novelty in 1927 was produced at the Independence Gardens and is unique in being the first pink Water Lily of the viviparous type, all others being blue. This Lily has a gorgeous, full-petaled flower, much larger than other viviparous types, and it surpasses all other pink tropical lilies in depth of coloring. The plant is vigorous in growth and free flowering; in fact many of the leaves produce large buds and flowers when the tiny leaf plants have scarcely unfolded their leaves. Opens earlier and closes later than other day bloomers. When several days old, flowers sometimes remain open all night.

In a historical article in the same catalog, Robert Sawyer is named as the hybridizer of N. 'Mrs Robert Sawyer'.

After Robert Sawyer left the Tricker company to start his own water garden business in Akron, Ohio, the William Tricker Company changed the waterlily name to N. 'Independence'. The catalog description in the later William Tricker, Inc. catalogs is nearly identical to that for the earlier N. 'Mrs. Robert Sawyer' description:

Kathryn Perry Photo

INDEPENDENCE. The first novelty produced from Independence. Viviparous nymphaea of deep pink coloring instead of the regulation blue of that class. It has a gorgeous, full petaled flower that opens earlier and closes later than any other day bloomers. The plant is vigorous in growth and free-flowering. In fact many of the leaves produce large buds and flowers when the tiny leaf plants have scarcely unfolded their leaves.

In Robert Sawyer's 1928 and 1934 editions of his book "Water Gardens and Goldfish", he describes the color of N. 'Mrs Robert Sawyer' as "Lavender-Red". In the 1934 edition he characterizes N. 'Independence' as a synonym for N. 'Mrs Robert Sawyer'. For those interested in the progress of inflation, the 259 page hardcover second edition book sold for only $2.00.

As an aside, Robert told me that William Tricker, Inc. refused to list his book in their catalogs because it gave away trade secrets. Indeed, his book contained chapters titled "Cultural Directions" and "Commercial Possibilities". According to Robert, Perry Slocum told him that he learned to propagate waterlilies from his book and started his own business in 1937 at Marathon, New York.

Walter Pagels - Profile

Other Articles by Walter Pagels

 The Saga of Blue Beauty

 Tubering Tropical Waterlilies
 Waterlily Chromosome Counts

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