JULIAN NALLY (1903 - 1977)

By Derek Butcher

Let us start with a piece by Hedwig Michel

What had become of Dr. Henry Nehrling's homestead in Gotha?

Sold and changed hands several times the gardens were left deserted, ransacked - until a miracle happened and the partner, Henry never had been able to find, appeared on the scene to carry on the work in Gotha.

Nobody ever would have dreamed that a young archaeologist from New York could be the one to rescue the treasures of Palm Cottage Gardens in the quaint village of Gotha. It wasn't at all an archaeologist's project that had brought Julian Nally and his father, E. J. Nally, president of Radio Corporation of America to Florida. They were on their way to California when 'a corny ad' in the Orlando Sentinel Star caught their fancy, in 1932.

"Whispering pines on a luxuriant estate, hidden by great oak forests and colorful with tropical bloom," this ad read. They went investigating. They roamed the place, unaware of its history or the original settlers. "The estate we found," Julian reminisced, "looked like the Battle of the Marne had just been fought across it. The ground was pitted with holes where royal palms had been taken out, and empty trenches marked the places where flowering shrubs had graced the garden. Nevertheless the 25 acre fairyland around a tiny lake still showed the charm of creative planning. At least in one thing this corny ad was correct - this place was a hidden paradise."

The ad served its purpose. The northern travellers, enchanted, bought the Old Nehrling Place, and, as through magic, the archaeologist turned horticulturist, grower, hybridizer, nurseryman, lecturer, writer, a student following in the footsteps of his master. At the right conjunction a fairytale came to life: Julian and his wife Maggie recreated a lost paradise. Henry's favorite introduction, the beautiful Gloriosa lily, is also a favorite in Nallys' nursery, and bromeliads and orchids thrive under the oak and pine and bamboo, among ficus trees and magnolias from the first plantings of sixty and eighty yeas ago.

Not only the gardens but also the large, four-square house showed the ravages of time. At the turn of the century it had been loaded on an ox cart, in sections, and wheeled through the piny woods and rebuilt inmidst of the gardens to house the Nehrling family, after they had given up comfortable living in Milwaukee for pioneering in Florida. The two-story frame structure with wide verandas and porches, spacious rooms and high ceilings, planned for gracious living, for many years had been a lively center for the Nehrling family, their friends and scores of visitors.

Now reconstructed the house and the gardens are a monument to pioneers' days. With the personal touch of Maggie and Julian and with nature at work 24 hours the Old Nehrling Place is a shrine for nature lovers, botanists and gardeners to appreciate.

Peace and tranquillity settles over Palm Cottage Gardens, and the village of Gotha close to interstate Highway 4, only a few miles away from booming Orlando, has kept its character. Gotha today is the same Old World settlement it started out to be close to a hundred years ago. Church and school, post office and general store make up main street, while narrow roads cut into the grove land with neatly kept homes shining through. And people there, now reaching biblical age who never have left their home town of Gotha, still speak the language of their fathers who once had come from Germany.

The Nallys' move to the old homestead in the 1930's meant as much a life of pioneering as it had been for the Nehrling family in 1902. One like the other coming from developed cultural centers of the United States had submitted to nature's rule. As it was 'labor of love' in the past, so it is today.


And now a piece by Julian Nally in The Bromeliad Society Bulletin

BROMELIADS BY THE ACRE

In the summer of 1938 I purchased from a Central Florida nurseryman perhaps three hundred bromeliads, mostly Neoregelia spectabilis and N. marmorata hybrids, together with a sprinkling of Billbergia species and hybrids. These once had been the property of the late Theodore L. Mead, a pioneer bromeliad enthusiast. In a sense, it was a fitting purchase, for the property on which I proposed to grow them had once belonged to the late Dr. Henry Nehrling, another of the early Florida bromeliad fanciers.

Since I then lacked a slat house in which to grow them, I planted the collection under a group of spreading live oak, Quercus virginiana, having first raked up a thick bed of fallen leaves. Fortunately, I hit, by chance, on a spot where the proper amount of sunlight filtered through the trees to give the plants excellent color, and the plants grew luxuriantly.

Normally, in the part of the world where I am located, in Central Florida, we have a few light frosts every winter, beginning perhaps, as early as November and extending, at the very latest, to late March. We may go several years without a serious freeze, and then again we may have a series of disastrous ones. This was true of 1940 when it was cold enough to freeze a thin skin of ice on my small lake, twenty or thirty feet out from the shore. The coldest temperature I recorded was 18F. However, I gathered firewood and built a number of small bonfires under the trees during each of the coldest nights and brought the planting of the Neoregelias through without loss. Since that time, with a vastly enlarged planting, extending perhaps over seven acres, I have never fired nor in any way protected the plants, and outside of a rather extensive leaching of chlorophyll from the leaves of newly planted offsets and some mature plants, due to one almost freezing rain, I have hardly ever lost a plant to cold, though we have had thermometer readings as low as 18F. All of my plants are grown in a woodland setting and, with the exception of a few areas where tree branches do not touch, there is a protective canopy overhead.

Our winters are usually quite dry with the nights ranging from cool to quite cold. The days vary from cool to very warm and a thirty degree range in temperature spread from night to day is not uncommon. Our spring months are hot and humid, though we do not expect our rainy season until June and July. The fall months are usually mild with only occasional rains. Precipitation over the course of a year is relatively heavy, being well over fifty inches.

I have never irrigated this planting. We have gone without rain at times for almost two months in the winter, and though the plants obviously would have relished a thorough wetting to refill their rosettes of leaves, they adjusted themselves wonderfully to the long drought and the first rain restored their freshness. We do have heavy dews at night, but just how much of it penetrates the over-hanging branches, I am not sure.

After the initial planting was well established and I saw how effective the plants looked against the background of palms and bamboo, I decided to enlarge the planting at a faster rate than propagation by offsets would permit. I gathered seed from the Neoregelias by the tens of thousands and I feel sure that almost every last one germinated, though by the time they attained maturity, there were perhaps only six or seven thousand plants. It was interesting to observe the wide variation of form, color and habit of growing among these plants grown from seed. Some were miniatures, scarcely eight inches across, while others reached a leaf spread of two and a half feet. The difference in variegation is also marked, varying from pale green to a brilliant mass of red marking on a green background.

Among the Neoregelias, which make up a preponderance of the plant material. are presently many other species and hybrids. Aechmea fulgens var. discolor and A. miniata var. discolor led a charmed life for many years, and from the few I started with thirty-five years ago, I once had a colorful block of over two acres. These, incidentally, are flourishing under the rather heavy shade of a group of junipers, containing specimens of both red and pencil cedar. The Neoregelias are less happy under this genus of trees, for the leaves and branches decaying in the rosettes apparently set up a mildly toxic reaction, and the plant's leaves become faintly spotted with yellow areas.

I have found the Neoregelias grow best in as much sun as they can take, short of burning the foliage. This gives them brilliant color and causes them to form a compact plant with many leaves. If they are grown in heavy shade, much of the variegation disappears and the plants lose their form. Offsets from such plants are unwieldy to plant.

Other bromeliads which have stood out-of-door culture for me are a number of the Billbergias, both in species and varieties. B. pyramidalis is rather generally distributed throughout the state and does well, though very subject to black scale. Aechmea fasciata, though slow to increase by offsets does well. A group of Aechmea bracteata lived in the crotch of an oak for many years and it made an impressive cluster. Quesnelia arvensis is also hardy here, though it refused to bloom for a number of years as it was growing in too shady a spot. A few plants of Vriesea schwackeana which were planted out by error twenty years ago are happy under a long-leaf pine, and nearby a little colony of Aechmea weilbachii grows contentedly among the Neoregelias. I have grown a number of other different genera and species out-of-doors for the past twenty years or so and have grown many thousands of Vriesea xMariae under our live oaks. They have proven remarkedly hardy under some adverse conditions.

Although Neoregelias are sturdy plants, it would be wise to experiment with a few before making an extensive out-of-door planting, for they apparently have their likes and dislikes as to location. Several years ago I gave a friend a few hundred plants, and though his property has better frost protection than mine, by virtue of a large lake nearby, his planting of Neoregelias was badly frosted by a temperature apparently no lower than 35F. Even on my place, there is a difference of as much as eight degrees between low ground and high ground on cold nights. Ice has formed in the center of a Neoregelia rosette, but other than leaving a thin dark line on the foliage, noticeable in later stages of the plant's growth, no other damage ensued. Neither Aechmea chantinii nor Aechmea mariae-reginae were happy under this condition.

During the past thirty-five years that these bromeliads have been growing in this naturalistic setting, they have had no artificial form of fertilizer nor any special attention whatever except to keep the areas clean from fallen branches, etc.

When taken up, the plants have a good cluster of well developed feeder roots. Growing in sandy soil they lift very easily by hand if they are young plants, but if they are old they have such a mass of roots they' are better dug with a shovel. They can be used for pot culture immediately.

The plants no longer get specially prepared beds of leaves. Usually there is sufficient fall of leaves to make a thin mulch on the ground and it suffices to prevent our sandy soil from being splashed into the leaf-cups during torrential down-pours.

Other than drought and cold, there are many minor hazards. Pine needles falling often pierce the tough leaves as though they were made of tissue paper. Rabbits occasionally will eat a young plant down to the base. Cockroaches seem to like the red pigment at the ends of the leaves, and often cause unsightly blemishes. Fallen limbs are destructive. Oddly enough, another bromeliad can be classed as a hazard, for after every windstorm, yards and yards of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, is torn from the trees and covers some of the plants below. If the mat is thick, and is not removed with reasonable promptness, it can cause the death of the Neoregelia beneath, an example of kin destroying kin. Reluctantly, mention must be made of mosquitoes, for the leaf-cups form a perfect breeding place. Dieldrin has been used successfully.

One of the unfailing charms of an out-of-door planting is the visual delight from surveying the many vistas as the sun, mounting in the heavens, picks out the gay coloring of the closely ranked plants. No matter at what hour one chooses for a walk along the winding paths, new beauty is at every hand. Although climatic conditions prevent a widespread use of bromeliads in year-around naturalistic plantings, it is to be hoped that more people will try the hardier species, whether they be those Mr. Hertrich grew with such success in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, or my own beloved Neoregelias.


And now a piece by Eloise Beach from the Bromeliad Society Journal 1977 p.276

Julian Nally - An Unforgettable Man

Julian Nally was a rare individual. His dynamic personality and superb talent for writing extraordinary letters gained him admiration from countless people. He grew his bromeliads by the acre and without a doubt was truly a pioneer bromeliad grower in our country.

In his early years this enthusiastic Princeton University graduate pursued a colorful career in journalism, which included work as a writer for NBC radio, that is, since television was yet to be invented. Yes, Julian Nally was a pioneer in many respects.

In the late 1930's he came to Florida. Good fortune enabled him to obtain the famous estate of the late Dr. Henry Nehrling, another early Florida bromeliad enthusiast. Dr. Nehrling cultivated many unusual varieties of plants in his majestic woodland setting and left behind a fantastic collection of bamboo planted throughout the acreage. So in the quaint settlement of Gotha, Julian Nally began to add more history to an already historical site.

The planting began in 1938 with a pickup truck load of bromeliads purchased from a local nurseryman. They were mostly Neoregelia spectabilis and marmorata hybrids. Soon the Neoregelias were thriving outdoors in neat rows under picturesque live oak trees. Mother Nature took care of watering and feeding the plants, and the central Florida winters caused little or no damage.

Julian Nally loved to experiment and was constantly bringing new plant varieties to grow in his extensive outdoor gardens. He began growing gloriosa lilies, mostly Gloriosa rothschildiana, and soon discovered there was a tremendous commercial demand for them as cut flowers. Eventually he planted several acres with tubers and shipped thousands of flowers nationwide. Unfortunately disaster struck as an uncontrollable virus which ultimately required that all his tubers be destroyed. He may well have been the first to commercially introduce the gloriosa lily.

All the while, his bromeliads continued to flourish and multiply. Julian Nally was a master propagator. He meticulously removed offsets from his beloved Neoregelias and kept expanding the original planting. The sight was so incredible that he decided to propagate by seed, as well, to obtain even more bromeliads at a faster rate. Thousands of seedling Neoregelias eventually took root amongst the trees until there were over 7 breathtaking acres of colorful Neoregelias!

Neoregelias were not the only bromeliads that Julian Nally grew by the acre. He was captivated by the European hybrid, Vriesea 'Mariae' and after many years expanded a mere handful of plants into a field of thousands when in full bloom, the field was alive with countless, brilliant red and yellow "painted feathers" - simply unbelievable. Julian Nally also devoted about 3 acres to a hybrid of Aechmea miniata var. discolor widely known today as Aechmea 'Maginali', named in honor of his wife Maggie. Scattered throughout the woods were smaller patches of bromeliads representing perhaps several hundred varieties. He did maintain a greenhouse for his rare specimens, and that collection at one time ranked among the best.

Julian Nally could not be remembered without mentioning his close friend, the late Ed Ensign of Orlando, for together they grew thousands of bromeliads from seed and produced some extraordinary plants: Aechmea orlandiana var. Ensign and Aechmea luddemanniana marginata 'Mend' came out of their seed flats.

Julian Nally also enjoyed hybridizing and made a number of fine crosses; however, most of them have not yet been registered. His Aechmea 'Valencia' g. (Ae. ramosa x Ae. penduliflora) with its radiant red foliage and colorful inflorescence is an outstanding example of his achievements.

When The Bromeliad Society, Inc. was formed, he became a charter member and served on the Board of Directors from 1951 through 1970. A number of his interesting articles were published in early issues of the Journal of The Bromeliad Society.

In 1963 Dr. Lyman B. Smith named a new species in honor of Julian Nally, Aechmea nallyi. It was collected in Peru by Lee Moore and was first flowered by Julian Nally in 1962. Many have confused this rare species with an Aechmea comata hybrid some have called Aechmea x nallyi. The plants are actually quite distinct.

In 1971 an extraordinary plant was found in the vast field of Neoregelias. It was a variegated sport of a Neoregelia marmorata hybrid. This captivating plant with its broad white margins soon became his favorite.

For nearly 40 years, Julian Nally grew bromeliads and amassed a collection of probably half a million plants. In all he was literate and articulate, hospitable and generous with his time and knowledge of plants. His unique achievements and genuine love for growing plants will fondly be remembered by a great many bromeliad enthusiasts throughout the world. We shall not soon again see his like.

Editor's Note - Just before this article went to press news was received of the death of Margaret Nally, just one month after the passing of her husband. She will always be remembered for the lovely aechmea hybrid which he made and named for her - Aechmea 'Maginali'.


CORRESPONDENCE

I would like to share with you letters that Julian wrote to Bill Morris in Australia in the period 1959 -1963. I have only removed references to plants other than Bromeliads. What is left will give you an insight as to what these two were interested in doing as well as contemporary comments on the characters of Bromeliad people of this period. My comments are in italics.


March 23rd. 1959

 

Dear Mr. Morris,

Many thanks for your interesting airmail note of the third - I mean the eighteenth. I wish we English speaking peoples would get together on a standard abbreviation, and certainly the continental system of writing l8/3/59 is much more natural and informative than our 3/18/59.

I will be happy to send you seed when available, but a number of the species listed either seldom or never make seeds, and a few of them I have yet to flower. At some time or another I will have seeds of the following: Aechmea angustifolia, A. filicaulis, A. Mexicana; oh yes and Ae.schultziana(now penduliflora). Ae. tessmannii has never bloomed for me: Ae. saxicola I have not been able to set seeds on, Ae. calyculata ought to be easy, for it is much used in hybridizing, but I have never had seed on it, either, and Ae. bromeliifolia var. rubra doesn't want to set seeds for me, either. Ae. lagenaria (now lamarchei)hasn't bloomed, nor has Ae. Blanchetti. Ae. x Foster's Favorite is sterile, but I think I can set seeds on Ae. Fosteriana. Billbergia minor has not yet bloomed, nor has Hoh.penduliflora - the last takes years and is a huge affair. I have never bloomed Nid. scheremetiewii (what a hideous name and I think I have spelled it wrong), nor yet Neo. pineliana, Neo. macrocephala(macrosepala). Neo. ampullacea has died, and I have never found seed on Neo. Johannis. The Streptocalyx longifolius has departed, never to return and the Wittrockia superba has never bloomed. So much for the list. I occasionally get a few Vriesia seeds - they are my especial interest and some Tillandsia seeds, and when I do, I will send a few on to you.

Currently I can send only seeds of two sorts of our Neoregelia hybrids which will give you a fair assortment of colorful foliage No one knows the original cross, but probably there is some Neo. marmorata blood, plus Neo. spectabilis, and a dash of Neo. concentrica. I also enclose some seed of Ae. pubescens, red foliage. Most attractive and vastly superior to straight pubescens, which it hardly resembles in form or bloom. Lastly a pinch of T. streptophylla, a glorious small plant which turns a warm rose when about to bloom.

I can't tell you a thing about your Neoregelia cross, save that it ought to be both interesting and attractive. I am not familiar with the variety Meyendorfii - is it broad leafed or narrow?

I will keep my eye out for seeds other than the ones you list - do you have Ae. distichantha - I set seeds on it, and it is a lovely, though large affair. We set seed on Guz. minor, minor var. Flamea, Guz magnifica, Guz. lingulata - all attractive bloomers but greenhouse material with us. I'll see if I can get anything from Mr. Foster, too. How about seedlings, one or two, which would unobtrusively fit within a folded letter. Your letter reached me in four days, and I think a baby seedling might carry, with a wisp of moss around its roots.

I congratulate you on your impressive total of 150 bromeliads and hope that you will be able to increase the number even more. Pity about the embargo on live plants - we suffer much the same bureaucracy - they kill everything with methyl bromide gas. It is just as difficult for me to ship to California, their local laws are stringent.


April 15th 1959

 

Dear Mr. Morris,

I was impressed with the typed list of your bromeliad holdings - you have a better collection than most people here in Florida. I'd rank you among the first dozen or so.

A few more seeds - very few in the instance of Guzmania minor, for I gave all of them to a friend to plant for me and only then remembered you, so I scavenged the plant and found the few I enclose. They came from the best Guz. minor I ever grew, so I hope some of the vigor and beauty will be passed on to the offspring. The other seeds are from the lovely Mexican, Til. streptophylla, and though one has to have a reasonable life expectation to grow Tillandsia seeds, this is one worth living a few extra years for. I'm in my mid-fifties, so I contented myself with planting only a pinch. I have, I hope, some seed ripening on Ae. calyculata and, more dubiously, on Ae. comata. Also, there should be seed later this summer on Ae. tillandsioides - but you have that - and Ae. Luddemaniana, which apparently you do not have. It resembles Ae. mexicana and perhaps I can find seeds later, if any of the plants outside bloom of the last mentioned. I've selfed and crossed a number of Mexican Tillandsias, the property of Mr. Van Hyning, who left his collection in my charge while he made another trip to that country, and, an airmail from him today announces some good collections of bromeliads and a few interesting orchids which he will bring back next month. His Til. Deppeana is currently in bloom and a noble sight it is, Vriesia-like foliage, powdered with white at the base of the leaves, urn-shaped, with a bloom stalk two feet high, bright pink (they tell me in Mexico it is bright red), purple flowers.

Now, back to your letter. I note that you are interested in all bromeliads. I try to limit myself and skip the Hechtias, Pitcairneas, Dyckias and others of that ilk. I also confess that the Billbergias, though I have a lot of them, are not my especial favorites. I like Aechmeas, Guzmanias, Neoregelias, Nidulariums and Vriesias and isolated individuals among other groups, such as Tillandsia, etc.

Ae. bromelifolia is through for the year, and no seed set, more's the pity. The Ae. pubescens, red phase has red bracts, insignificant and rather fugitive. I have it in bloom a year from seed, which amazes me. Mr. Foster is a difficult correspondent and is always far behind on letters. He is also rather difficult to get bromeliads from, other than the run of the mill types. Thanks for the information on Neo. carolinae var. meyendorfii.

I'm interested to hear of your success with acetylene water - do you apply it generally to the plant, or only the basal and side leaves?

I do not have the red form of V. Petropolitana (now heterostachys) and confess I've never heard of it, either. Lyman Smith makes no mention of it in his Bromeliaceae of Brazil. 1'd like to try it if it turns out well.

Of course the Hamburg firm is Schenkel. Some people have had good luck with his seeds and seedlings and others not so good, including Mr. Fister and Roger Taylor of Baltimore with whom you may have corresponded.

I would be very interested in the seeds of Neo. spectabilis x meyendorfii when they ripen if you will be good enough to send me a very few.

I used to emulate Dr. Nehrling and grow everything, or as much of it as I could get my hands on. Now I am less ambitious and stick to bromeliads or to things which require no attention. In the latter category is our collection of bamboo, the largest in the country with a single exception, but then, I inherited most of them. We have a twenty-five acre place and they cover quite a lot of it. Mr. Foster has gotten so enthused over cycads that he has a special corner on his new property not far from me wholly devoted to them.

Well, I bore you. Don't bother to acknowledge. I will send you what seeds I can find later in the spring or early summer. Meanwhile, thank you for your interesting letter and I wish you lots of luck.


May 14th 1959

 

Dear Mr. Morris,

Forgive the yellow sheet, but it is the nearest thing I can reach, and Wednesday being our second biggest flower shipping day, evening finds me disinclined to get up and get anything if I don't have to.

I'm very much behind as always in my letter-writing, mainly this time, due to Mother's Day, which is our biggest shipping period of the year - we have about an acre of Gloriosa(Lilies) in bloom, and had we had the orders, we could have shipped tens of thousands. As it was, we contented ourselves with getting out a scant five or six thousand, but individually wrapped, each flower - takes a lot of time. If we are lucky, we ought to gross 25c a flower: commission and air transportation charges lower that. We will get as high as 50c a bloom, I imagine, on some lots.

I fell heir to some interesting seeds collected by an acquaintance who made a flying collecting trip to Columbia around Easter and he was good enough to share with me. I enclose a pinch of each: one of two sorts are obviously no good. I think you will be happy to get the Guz. musaica: I know I was, and hope the seeds are viable.

We have lot of seeds setting on Ae. pubescens (red) and I'll send you some when they mature this summer. We have never had difficulty germinating them so I can't ascribe a cause to your bad luck. We will also have seeds of Ae. tillandsioides; it grows readily and blooms the following year. I am going to grow it commercially.

Fine about the red form of V. petropolitana (now heterostachys). I'm in no hurry, nor yet for the cross of Neo. x meyendorfii. I have Nid. billbergoides (Canistropsis billbergioides) but have no seed. I tried to pollinate it this time and if I had any luck, I will share. It throws off-sets at a great rate and I am very fond of the plant. I have never been able to grow Nid. fulgens and at this writing don't even have a plant on the place - your remark about crosses you'd like to try reminded me of my failure with this easily grown plant. With Nid. regeloides I have fine success,.. and can even set a few seed on it, also Nid. amazonicum whose name they are always changing. The cross of Neo. marmorata or one of my improved hybrids with Neo. carolinae should be made. I wonder why Foster never has? He has made so many other Neoregelia crosses and some good ones, too.

I'll be happy to send you seeds of our Gloriosa (Lily) but with a word of caution: they are not true Rothschildiana - we have wide divergence in type of bloom. I may be able to get you a few seeds of Kew yellow and Trinidad yellow some time this summer: I'll try. I can probably find some Plantii around, too.

Thanks for the remarks re acetylene: I have been negligent in trying it.


June 4, 1959

 

A few random notes while I think of them.
The red bracts on Ae. pubescens red-phase are long lasting. I told you they weren't. Bad observation.
No seed has set on Ae. calyculata, I'm sorry to say. 1'd have sworn I saw some when I tested, earlier.
The Quesnelia testudo , represented by only two seeds is a bromeliad with almost perfect form. The bloom is a watermelon colored cone affair on a bloom stalk perhaps twelve or fourteen inches tall. These two seeds represent the entire crop and I'm big-hearted to part with this pathetic pair for I only have two plants and I wish I had a thousand. It reproduces freely when grown under glass by offsets, but my plants are outside. I hand pollinated the many blossoms but with little avail.

I will be curious to see what eventuates from the Ae. x Nallii (Now 'Julian Nally' It is interesting that even at this early stage they were setting seed on this F1 hybrid). Mulford Foster can't remember the cross. Part of it looks like Ae. comata, the bloom stalk does, but who or what makes the seed capsules red? I know that the seeds are viable for I planted a few and two sprouted the next day.

No seed on Nid. procerum nor yet on Nid. billbergioides(Canistropsis billbergioides), but I think possible there might be a few on Nid. blanchetti.(?Aechmea) It is "interesting" only - not pretty, though the maturing seed capsules assume an attractive and long lasting orange brown color. I didn't try to set them, so I'm not sure. I have seed set on V. racinae and if I can get them to grow, it will be a splendid item for collectors, beautiful and rare. Flowers worthless, though.

Do you want seed from our native Tillandsias? I am not, I am ashamed to say, very sure of their names - familiarity breeds contempt, which I am getting over.

Gotha Florida, USA
June 4, 1959

 

Dear Mr. Morris:

I was going to write a letter, but so many things have interfered that I will have to content myself with a few lines at the bottom of this page. As you see, I have a little more loot to share: two things from Columbia, a "Tillandsia, I think" and Bil. macrolepis seeds, also a series of things from Mexico, recently collected, plus a few of my own. I am not expecting a continuance of this relatively golden flood of out-of-the-country material, but I will have a pinch or two once in a while from my own plants. I hear from Mr. Ensign who is growing my seeds for me that the Guz. cryptantha or Danielli show no signs of sprouting - how are yours: the Bil. rupestris has not sprouted either, he says. I have a plant of Guz. cryptantha but it has never done much. Ae. x Nallii sprouted almost as soon as they touched the German peat - I merely sprinkled a half dozen on the bed to see if they were viable. I want to get these seeds off before they really die on our hands, so hastily I will say good night and will write later on. All the best.


June 21, 1959

 

Dear Mr. Morris:

I am happy that the last lot of bromeliad seeds reached you in good order and gave you some fun. I can't think of anything I enjoy more than getting packets of seeds, even though I am aware (as are you, in the case of some of the Tillandsias) that it will be years before I can expect bloom. On the other hand, nothing is more discouraging than to get seeds which will not germinate, though of course it is going to occur often in Vriesias, Tillandsias and the like. (By the by, someone in Washington is starting a series of tests to determine the viability of as many bromeliad seeds as possible - this should eventually be of help to people like us). Your cross, of Neoregelias, is coming on well, I am happy to report.

A few more seeds for you, one or two of which you may have had before as I think Mr. Davis, of Miami, Florida, who sent me an earlier lot of Columbian material, has duplicated. I apologize for the scant Canistrum Lindenii (now Edmundoa lindenii)packet: it started out with four seeds, but apparently when my desk was dusted, two disappeared. This was the total crop. I have a hundred or two seedlings from another source but it will be four or five years perhaps before I can expect any of my own again. Also, you may have to look hard to find the few seeds of Aechmea pineliana (dwarf type). This was the total crop from two plants. I have a half dozen or so plants and they multiply readily from offsets. The trick with them is to grow them so they achieve their lovely rose colored foliage. I have not been able to do this save in a single instance, though four of the plants have identical potting material: the others, in richer potting mix I feel sure will never get color, though the plant itself is attractive. Also included is a small pinch of the large Ae. Pineliana which a friend gave me a few days ago. I have never bloomed my plants. The other things are from Mr. Davis.

Mr. Oather (did you ever hear of anyone named thusly? - I never did)Van Hyning may be addressed at P. 0. Box 38l, Maitland, Florida. He tells me that next time he goes to Mexico he will save you some cycads seeds and be on the lookout for anything else you may be interested in, bromeliads, of course. Mr. Van Hyning may be away for a while, so if you are about to send cycad seeds, it might be better for you to send them in my care. He is very pleased over the prospect and in time, you will hear from him direct.

A couple of oddities turned up this past week. One, an Aechmea miniata discolor plant put forth nine bloom stalks from the center. We have several thousand normal plants just blooming. Second oddity, two bloom stalks from a potted V. ensiformis, the second at least 3 leaves removed from the center. Lastly, three plants emerging from a single eye at the leaf base of Nid. regelioides. Also, two more variegated offsets in the hybrid Neoregelia patch. Mr. Van Hyning, on the phone a few minutes ago told me that Mr. Foster had told him that two men from Germany had offered him a thousand dollars for his Ae. x 'Foster's Favorite Favorite' a white-variegated seedling. I'm uncharitable enough to doubt it. So much for now and my suspicions of my fellow man. All the best.


August 25, 1959

 

Dear Bill Morris:

I have had seed of several bromeliad species and supposed crosses around for more than a month and have meant to get them off more than once, but my life has been complicated the past five or six weeks by two trips to New York, each of several weeks duration: the latter an emergency, as my 87 year old Mother underwent an operation for an intestinal block. She is apparently making a good but naturally slow recovery.

I think you will be happy about the Vriesia racinae seeds which came up perfectly for me. It is about the second smallest Vriesia, I believe, no large than a saucer, or really, between the size of a teacup and a saucer. It is spotted and has a small bloom stalk, tipped with a few large white flowers. It is also temperamental to grow. The crosses I don't know much about, or even for sure that they are crosses, but I didn't intentionally self any Vriesia Mariae and I did cross some flowers with V. petropolitana, (now heterostachys) V. simplex and perhaps two others. We will have to wait and see. The reason the cross was not recorded was due to the fact that this happened at the time we were building our new greenhouse and many labels got misplaced or lost.

We have been over here at the beach for about a week and will stay another. Daytona is only some seventy miles from here, but it makes a very pleasant vacation spot.

Mr. Davis, from Miami, who has sent us seeds, you may recall, is now getting the Atomic Energy Commission at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to treat twelve packets of seed each of four varieties of bromeliads with 12 different degrees of radiation to see if we can come up with anything startling in the way of warped or changed genes. I supplied seed of Ae. luddemaniana and will send seed of our hybrid Neoregelias when they are ripe. He sent Ae. pubescens and one other.

There was a fine display of bromeliads at the end of the Mall leading into Rockefeller Center, off Fifth Avenue in New York when I was there - Neo. carolinae var. tricolor in bloom and many others.


November 18, 1959

 

Dear Bill,

I have not been uncommunicative strictly from choice this past summer. My 87 year old Mother's health commenced failing in June, so I went up to spend some time with her at her home outside of New York. Then, after I had returned, she had an emergency operation and back I went, returning once again to Florida when the crisis appeared past. Then, toward the end of August, I was summoned once again, and I remained with Mother and my sister until the end mercifully came the latter part of last month. Just before I left the last time, I did up some seeds for you, but never got them off, so here they are, plus additions and I do hope that they have not all lost their vitality.

Your Neo. spectabilis cross is doing well and the seedlings have been flatted. I do hope that my attempt to cross the broad-leaf form of Neo. carolinae with our marbled Neoregelia will be successful and give us the best features of both plants.

We have been lifting and transplanting thousands of mature Neoregelia hybrids the past few weeks: three men and a truck. First we took off all of the large offsets from the Aechmea miniata discolor planting and got three or four thousand nice plants with about that many more to come unless we have a freezing winter.

A few things in bloom, or just past: Ae.tessmanii x Ae. chantini, Canistrum fosterianum, V. petropolitana (just coming in)(now heterostachys), a fine bed of V. Mariae, Ae. angustifolia, Ae. miniata discolor x Ae. calyculata, (Now 'Mini Cal')(a fine plant with the first named parent's coloration), Ae. tillandsioides, V. ensiformis (most of them bloomed early summer), Guz. magnifica (a hybrid)and Guz. minor (they bloomed at Easter last time),some seedlings, selfed, of V. Mariae, four years old are blooming and three out of the four thus far in flower are, for all intents and purposes, straight Mariae. The other is smaller and narrower as to inflorescence. A few other odds and ends, mostly billbergias.

We have had a very warm fall - door open as I write in mid-evening, but we are promised a cold spell this week. In some haste as I owe many letters, and with renewed thanks, Sincerely,


Jan. 2, 1960

 

Dear Bill,

I started a letter to you on Christmas Day myself, but got hardly much further than the salutation when we had to go out and dine with friends. I do not want to delay any longer as I have a few seed for you and since some of them are importations, there is no knowing when they were gathered, but both Nid. procerum and V. ensiformis show signs of sprouting, so I think they are all right. I feel a little low in my mind tonight as a few seeds - only half a dozen or so of three crosses I made earlier this year germinated well and showed their first leaf when I was admiring them this morning. Now, at eleven o'clock at night when I went out for a final peer, I find that unaccountably, most of them have died. The crosses sounded fun, too: Ae. miniata discolor x Ae. pubescens (red), Ae. miniata discolor x Ae. fasciata (this has been made in Belgium years ago, but I don't know whether it was any good), Ae. mexicana x Ae. lueddemanniana (they are much alike). Also, many of the Vriesia crosses have died this past week - they were in closed containers and I have been darkly suspecting that the fungicidal agent, something called Natriphene, was to blame. I guess it is just one of those things, though.

I am glad to have the Neo. carolinae var. meyendorfii seeds, and will be curious to see (If I can raise them) whether they turn out to be anything like our broad-leaf Carolinae. I am confused over the continental Neo. mareschallii, too, and I think I have spelled it wrong, to boot.


Jan 14, 1960

 

Dear Bill,

Your seeds of Neo. meyendorfii are ready to push out the little plantlet and I am glad. The other Neoregelia lot, the cross, is doing fine and ready for transplanting. I turned up something in a seed tray, or rather, a transplanted lot of Ae. x Foster's Favorite the other day which fills my heart with unholy glee if only the four plants will continue to throw variegated leaves. This should represent an approximation of Foster's treasured Ae. x 'Foster's Favorite Favorite' which turned up as a sport a few years back and which is a dream plant, white and red. He was offered a thousand dollars for his stock by a visiting German plantsman, but he refused since the man wanted all thirty-eight plants. Of course, I would be happy to have the plant, but my unchristian delight would come from annoying Mr. F.

I have seedlings up of V. mariae x V. schwackeana and when and if they get large enough to travel, I will share with you. I also have a V. incurvata x V. x marie cross with a few seeds up. I also have a couple of things up I'm not sure about: Nid. amazonicum x Nid. innocenti var. striatum - even if my records are right, the variegation won't be transmitted. Also, I have tiny seedlings of Neo. carolinae (wide leaf - don't know which variety it may be) x our hybrid marmorata type Neoregelia and I will send you some of these when they can travel. A last, but dubious cross, is Nid. regelioides cross with the striated Nidularium innocenti.

I have Ae. fosterianum coming into bloom and hope to set some seeds for you. Also coming in is a cross of Foster's, blooming for the first time, of this plant and Ae. distichantha. It looks almost straight distichantha, save for a suggestion of mottling. Also blooming is Ae. pimenti-velosoi, which is cute and I have pollinated it; likewise Ae. x nallii ('Julian Nally') which is a larger version of it, though I am sorry to have to note that Foster is not sure of either of the two parents. Ae. victoriana is about to bloom: I will try and set seeds, likewise Ae. weilbachii and Ae. distichantha, Ae. caudata variegata, Ae. x (miniata discolor and calyculata). By the way, I note (if my Latin is at all viable,) that the last mentioned is self-sterile, according to Mez. Bil. vittata just finished blooming and I like it. Ae. x Royal Wine is about to bloom and so is Ae. 'Foster's Favorite'.

Just finished flatting eight or nine thousand broad-leaf Neoregelia carolinae and find that they are relatively slow growers.

I have seedlings of Neo. carcharodon, Guz. minor, Ae. x Foster's Favorite selfed, Ae. mexicana, all small enough for letter transport. Name any of them you wish and I will forward them. Also the broad-leaf carolinae. The reason I am doubtful about this last mentioned as to nomenclature is that I got the plant from Mr. F and apparently he wasn't sure that it wasn't one of his hybrids. We'll know in a year or two.

Now to the greenhouse for a last look around before bed. Good night to you and many thanks - I find your friendship a very rewarding one.


Jan 16, 1960

 

Dear Bill,

The seeds, which came today consist of a Pitcairnia sp. (seed from a plant Van Hyning brought back, and I hope, for a change, fresh) Chinantecas Mts., N. E. Oaxaca, Mexico. The others, from Davis, Nid. Sp. #8, Brazil (I think he got the seeds from Eipper). Davis also has a few plants and says "beautiful". I've noted that he is inclined to use superlatives in what seems to me a trifle loose manner, but let's hope he's right. The final pinch is from Columbia and I hope they are viable, likewise. There was a tip of a leaf included: rather reddish; either a Tillandsia or a Vriesia.

I'll see if any of your desiderata - can't spell it - in the epiphytic cactus line are suitable in present state for transport. The 'D---hii' plant is Darrahii, I've discovered. Note that Ae. x Nallii (now 'Julian Nally') is coming into bloom and discovered that one parent is Ae. calyculata - the other looks like Ae. comata to me.(These are not the same as in the BCR!) Crossed it with Ae. caudata variegated (this variety always produces albino plants from seed). Also crossed Ae. pimenti-velosoi with it. I think light inhibits bloom on Ae. weilbachii - those outside in the sun are not blooming nor are greenhouse plants (too much electric light in evenings?) but those in the woodland are in full bloom.

Well, to bed, eleven and after. Regards.


Feb 15, 1960

 

Dear Bill,

Many thanks for your last letter and the seeds enclosed. You'll be glad to know that the few I retained to test, germinated well - the rest I turned over to my friend Ed Ensign, to grow on for us. I refer, in case you have forgotten, to the Ae. recurvata var. ortgiesii x Ae. fasciata.(Now 'Chas Hodgson') Thanks also for the news that more cycad seed are on the way.

I also want to report on the Neo. carolinae x spectabilis:('Spectaline') they are growing very well and have been placed in community pots and are nearly ready for individual potting. I hope that the few seeds of our hybrid Neoregelia marmorata type x with Neo. carolinae (mareschalli) are doing as well for you as they are for us.

A few more seeds for you. The one I hope the most for, I can't guarantee whether the seeds are at all fresh: they came from Brazil - Vriesia atra. I don't know much about it, nor apparently does Mr. Foster, although he took it twice, the only person to find it since Glaziou discovered it, years ago. It is close to V. fenestralis, which is encouraging. The other three are Tillandsias and fresh, though not particularly rare, though the truth of the matter is that I have neither T. caricifolia (now festucoides) or T. monstrum (now Vriesea) as plants.

The Florida palm bulletin goes to you under separate cover.

Mr. Ralph Davis in a recent letter tells me that he will have Ae. zebrina May 1st. I hope this is not wishful thinking, for this plant is a treasure, not that anyone in this country has ever seen it, save Mr. Foster, who collected, and lost it. It is very much like Ae. chantinii and I think he thought that that was what he had when he found it. I'll see Davis this weekend when we drive down to Miami to the Orchid Show, Mrs. Nally and I will be able to report on what he has managed to import in my next letter.

You have heat and we have more cold, though not to the degree you have gone on the top side of the thermometer.

We've sold quite a few bromeliads thus far this year - for us, 1500 to a man in Canada, 500 to Miami and 250 to Boston and other odds and ends. Also, we are shipping a very few thousand Gloriosa tubers and wish we could ship more. Wish we had orders, that is.

I should look up your last letter but I'm afraid that if I do, this won't get off and I don't want to hold the seeds any longer.

All the best to you, and again thanks to you and Mrs. Morris for sending me seeds of her cross.


Feb 25, 1960

 

Dear Bill,

This will be only a hasty note to go along with a few seeds of Neoregelia laevis which were taken from several plants recently imported from Brazil. I assume that they are good, but I don't know, for mine have not yet come up. I am afraid that Vriesia atra seeds are not viable, though perhaps I am giving up too easily for they have been planted only twelve days - I'll be interested to hear how you made out.

Mrs. Nally and I went to the Miami Orchid Show which is the best one in this country and enjoyed ourselves, though now she has a fair collection we no longer get the thrill we used to from the prodigal amount of good bloom displayed. I stopped off to see a fellow bromeliad fancier - you and I have been sharing his seeds - Ralph Davis, and he gave me a noble lot of plants, most of which I do not have. However, he is shy of names on a number of them and others which are named, are darkly suspect. I expect high mortality, for most of the plants are not established and the methyl bromide treatment they receive on importation really knocks them for a loop.

No word from our wandering boy Van Hyning, in Mexico, but I expect only a card or two and they are laconic to an extreme.

Another bromeliad fancier, a commercial one, Bob Wilson of Fantastic Gardens, Miami, has bought himself twenty five acres in Costa Rica perhaps with the desire to grow his two loves, bromeliads and orchids in their natural surroundings. We could do with a little more of this "ideal climate" around here, though we have experienced nothing worse than out-of-season torrential rains this past week.

Got a list of seeds from the Frankfurt Palmengarten and if I get any bromeliad seeds from them on exchanges, I will share with you.

Now to bed.


April 15th 1960

 

Dear Bill,

Congratulations to you and your wife! From my childless state, five looks like quite a handful, even at this distance. I bet you did celebrate.

I have a number of tiny plants of the Neo. marmorata hybrid crossed with Neo. carolinae (broad-leaf) and when they get a trifle larger, I'll put a few in a letter. I am not dead sure that the cross is a real one. I'm always doubtful about things as tough to keep from selfing as Neoregelias.

Here are a few more seeds, two apparently viable crosses of Vriesia x Mariae with, respectively, V. incurvata and V. retroflexa (these were the seed-bearers). As I recall, V. retroflexa is a natural hybrid anyway, so who knows what will result. I don't remember whether you have Til. balbisiana - I don't think that it is spelled properly on the packet. I doubt if you have the alba form of our best looking native Tillandsia, Til. fasciculata var. densispica

I have two forms of Bil. amoena viridis and minor, the last mentioned currently in bloom - the other plant is not large enough. If I ever can get them both in bloom at the same time, I'll have a go at them.

I'm delighted to get the Bil. venezuelana(now Billbergia rosea) x macrocalyx.(now 'Bill's Baby') The only cross I have of the former is with winter blooming Bil. pyramidalis and it is strictly no good. A huge, over-grown pyramidalis and a lousy bloom. This is not said with intention to minimize your cross, which sounds fine, the other, which Mr. Foster made, was a poor choice of parent to begin with. We are having trouble setting selfed seed on Bil. venezuelana (now rosea) I don't know why.

Your cross between Neo. spectabilis and carolinae ('Spectaline')is doing fine and the plantlets show red around the base. Likewise, your seeds,(more properly the mother of the manchild's seeds, since she made the cross,) of Ae. fasciata x ortegesii (recurvata) (now 'Chas Hodgson') are also growing well. Finally, the plants of the Vriesia from Brazil - good heavens, I can't think of the name - are growing apace.

Ae. pubescens red is coming into bloom and we will try the seeds again when the proper time comes. I've been busy crossing Ae. filicaulis with Ae. lasseri and hope to get a red plant. I hope to have seeds of Ae. Fosterianum for you shortly, also.

Weather fine, at last, but the lake is still overflowing and the plastic greenhouse well under water. The rest of the place is bone dry and we have to irrigate every day. I'm going to move the greenhouse if we can ever get near it - and it doesn't cost too much.

I note that we shipped nearly five thousand bromeliads the past five weeks which sets some sort of a record and I am happy to see a little interest. I wish we had more varieties to offer, some of the things we have are hardly suitable for northern culture.

Now to bed - I should acknowledge an order for 1500 bromeliads for Puerto Rico which I have been putting off, but I can't make up my mind when I will be able to send it.

Hope that the boy will follow in your footsteps horticulturally.

Meanwhile all the best.


May 5, 1960

 

Dear Bill,

Here are a few more seeds for you, got them from, of all places Frankfurt, Germany, and I haven't the remotest idea whether they are any good or not.

You will be happy to hear that we won our law suit against the company who sprayed our Bromeliads two years ago and neglected to clean out the spray tank on one truck thoroughly (having used it the day before with lead arsenate) so when they sprayed one planting with Parathion, it killed ten or twelve thousand plants. We were awarded a judgement for $6,000. They probably will appeal so, eventually, if we get anything, the lawyers will get most or all of it, but I am happy to prove to them that they can't go around killing people's plants with impunity.

We have problems currently in the three acre Gloriosa patch which has been inoculated with cucumber virus by a host of wandering aphids and as a result, we have been busy, two men and I, plus Mrs. Nally when she can spare the time, pulling out all suspect plants and burning them. I imagine we will lose from a third to a half of the planting; perhaps more, if we are not lucky. It came at a bad time, too, when we were busy with shipping flowers for Mothers' Day, our most important floral holiday. Also, bitter irony, I have a bum hip - arthritis, the medico says - and I am handicapped and hating it.

Mr. Ralph Davis returned from Columbia with dysentery and four plants of the rarity, Ae. zebrina. He figures that each plant cost him a thousand dollars, so it will be a long time before you and I get to see one, much less own one.

Dr. Lyman Smith visited Mr. Foster a few weeks back and we all sat at the master's feet and didn't learn much save that he can't tell one live bromeliad from another, they have to be dead and pressed.

I have a cross, apparently taken of Ae. filicaulis x lasseri and I hope it will make a good plant, preferably red. I'll send you some seed when they get ripe. Your billbergia cross is up and growing well.

Now to bed, and I can use it! Good night and all good wishes.


July 29, 1960

 

Dear Bill,

I fear that I am a letter or so behind and I want to get at least nearly even as we are heading for the beach (near-by Daytona beach) for two or three weeks Monday morning, the 31st. I intend to do precious little bathing - in a natatorial sense, anyway, and a great deal of reading, and, alas! some work on the company books which I have been putting off for months.

I have some interesting seed for you if it is any good. We got it in a very round-about manner, so I cannot vouch for its freshness, but, for both of our sakes, since I am sure it represents material neither one of us have, I hope that it is viable. Also, some local seed, including Ae. filicaulis which I hope will turn out more successfully than the tiny plant which is no longer with you. I have a few crosses coming up and if any of them germinate, I will try to get you a seedling or two when your weather moderates. Ed Ensign and I have a new contact who wants Ed to raise seed of the plumose bromeliads, and since this character is not long back from Columbia - and has some noble material, we have hopes and we will share. I think you may know him, Nat DeLeon of Miami?

What you say regarding our mutual friend here in Florida is just what everyone says who has any sort of contact with him, myself included, though I must admit that at times he has been generosity itself, but during the intervening periods, just try to get anything. I have been after an Ae. miniata for three years and finally managed to get one from Bob Wilson of Fantastic Gardens in Miami, incidentally, since I last wrote, Ed Ensign and I spent a couple of days there and were amazed by the quantity of bromeliads to be found at the above mentioned, as well as DeLeon's Parrot Jungle. A couple of private collections were quite interesting, too.

Your Neo. carolinae x Neo. spectabilis cross ('Spectaline') is growing very well and I just potted up Mrs. Morris' seedlings of the Ae. fasciata x Ae. recurvata cross. I have Ae. Chantinii in bloom but practically nothing to put on it. I have Ae. distichantha var. Glaziovii (the diminutive form) in bloom and hope to heaven I have been able to set seeds. If I do, I will send you some. A few Vrieseas, splendens, retroflexa, x Marie, heliconoides, incurvata, ensiformis are blooming but no pollen to speak of, Wittrockia superba is coming into bloom and I hope to heaven it won't bloom out before I can get back to try to set some seed. Red bracts and very attractive. Canistrum Fosterianum is blooming and I set no seed on the plant that bloomed about a month ago. I think I may have seed on one or two pods of Ae. marmorata which has always been tough for me to do anything with. Do you have it? I don't recall.

Now to bed.


March 17, 1961

 

Dear Bill,

I wish I had had sense enough to make carbon copies of my infrequent letters to you, if only to keep a sort of running record of various bromeliad seeds forwarded so that, as time goes by, (and now that your collection has reached the imposing total of over 400 - more than I have!) I don't constantly duplicate. One of these days, if you can find the time between being father to a large family and a larger group of floral offspring, I wish you'd make up a list of what you have, and let me have a copy, too.

I, too, have been meaning to write, but I am the champion procrastinator Your report on bigeneric hybrids brought unholy joy to my soul, for I promptly relayed the information to Mr. Foster and he is frothing at the mouth, muttering unhappily, "Impossible, preposterous" and very shortly you will no doubt hear from him, butter not melting in his mouth, trying to do you out of any or all of these treasures. Knowing your feelings, I am not worrying over the possibility of his getting this material, but I hope that you will alert the kindly Chas. Webb also. I have been having my customary troubles with Mr. F., trying to get anything out of him - he'll sell stuff to old ladies who don't know a bromeliad from an Irish potato - so I am not brimming over with the cooperative feeling. Now, let me get your letter so that I can savor again your brief comments on these crosses which give me such solid satisfaction and Mr. F. the horrors. He has tried them, unavailingly, needless to add.

You are kind to say that I succeeded in getting you the largest collection of bromeliads, but I disclaim the honor, save for the small assist re seeds. I'm glad that you and Dr. Califano hit it off - he seemed like a very jolly Neopolitan when he came to see us. I don't think you have to worry on the score of Fred Gerber of Ormond Beach losing his interest in bromeliads - it's white hot, he got a group of Vrieseas from Dave Barry which pleased him recently. You will find that my friend Louis Herring is also a very good guy who doesn't mind paying for things that he admires, or going to endless trouble to supplying material desired in trade. Foster sold him a couple of fair sized Dioon edule for $125. each, I believe.

I'm happy to hear that the tiny Til. karwinskyana and Til. viridiflora have adopted your fibre blocks as Mexico in absentia. Despite your imposing total of 50 Tillandsias, I still may be able to help - I know that Louis H. is going to get you some that you do not have. I have a letter-size Til. Andriana if you don't have one - that's not the way to spell it, either, Andreana.

The only report I have had, round about, from Nat De Leon is that business was off at the Parrot Jungle in January and he was afraid that this might put a crimp in his plans for a return to the South American jungles this summer. He has a very nice collection of bromeliads and a lot of things I do not have, but would like to have. By the same token, I guess I have a few things he'd be happy to get, too, and he will, given time.

I am purposely not listing my successes or failures with your cycad seeds right now, as I want to go out; to the greenhouse and make a few notes. Suffice for the moment then to report that the last two lots were not strong on germination. Actually, as you know, my interest in Cycads is modest. I have a one track mind right now, terminal destination, more bromeliads. At that, I still am only mildly interested in Billbergias, most Tillandsias, Hechtias, Puyas, Dyckias, I don't like Pitcairnias, either, so I doubt if I ever get a huge collection of different plants.

Now to that Bil. nutans cross with Neo. Carolinae (xNeobergia 'Noddy'), golly! after I phoned Mr. F the happy news, he had to 'phone back again to see if he really heard right. He says flatly that it simply can't be, or otherwise he or the late T. L. Mead would have come up with it. I courteously forbore invidious comment. I got my satisfaction out of his dismay. If you ever get a picture of it, I'd love to see it, or, maybe, in time to come, the story behind the making of it, how long back, and which was the pollen parent? The other "queer one", the Ae. miniata discolor on Nid. Burchelli (xAechopsis 'Newk') had the same delightfully disastrous effect on our pal. It is interesting to hear that the Nidularium was so completely dominant. I have three wretched seedlings of a cross I made of the last mentioned with Nid. billbergioides and I will be curious to see what happens to the raised inflorescence of billbergoides (if the plants will only grow!). According to Mr. F., Neoregelia invariably pulls down the inflorescence of Aechmea when they are crossed. Have you crossed Neoregelia with Nidularium - did Foster or didn't he? They look like they ought to cross well.

I'm interested in your Neoregelia crosses, though I wish you had some of the gayer and more colorful (built in color) plants to work with, such as Neo. farinosa (surely you have that? - it makes a splendid parent) and Neo. Fosteriana (makes a wonderful deep red)(this is not the true N. fosteriana but seems to be 'Purple Haze' see Uncle Derek Says), Neo. sarmentosa var. chlorosticta (now straight chlorosticta) (keeps the off-spring compact) and for fun, Neo. leprosa & Neo. lampropoda.(unknown, cannot trace its history, shouldn't be the Tillandsia) I don't have the last mentioned and I doubt if Mr F has a true plant of it, either, any more, than he does of Neo. pineliana, or broad-leaf Carolinae. He has a big job, and I luckily got one from him a year ago, Neo macrosepala, but never have bloomed it. It is the largest, I think, that has the characteristic of turning brilliant red in the center when it blooms. The plant has good form, but no color otherwise. Neo. melanodonta is another I have been trying to get from him for years, has beautiful form and ought to be a fine parent. He at last has seeded his best Neo. johannis but I fear it is a hybrid - I have one, but not his.

This brings me back to Neo, (I wish I'd quit hitting the comma instead of the period sign) binotii. Yes, I have had it,. but I think I must have lost it. It is a great big thing or mine was, like an oversized Neo. spectabilis. Your description fits it to a T, as well as I can recall it. I don't recollect the blood red wounds, but then, as you say that this is not constant in every seedling plant. I'll be very much interested in what luck you have with your selecting crosses, and needless to add, my hand will be humbly stretched out for alms in the form of hybrid seed, as indeed it is permanently so.

The tubular Neoregelia job sounds like a cross between one of the tristis, ampullacea, etc. group with heaven knows what. There is a comparatively new one around. I have it, as yet undescribed and I am busy trying to set selfed seed on it. It will be called "stolonifera" and it lives up to its name. Has faint bands in brownish red and ought to be fun to cross pollinate. I'll send seed, if I get any. I have a pretty continental cross of Neo, (darn!) tristis x Neo. marmorata (which one, who knows?) that makes a compact and very colorful plant. Also, you may have heard of Neo. ossifraggi,(now mooreana) the first new Neoregelia to be discovered on the west coast of South America, in Peru where the only other Neo. dwells. It is blood brother to Neo. eleutheropetala, but diminutive, with sharply recurved green and very spiny leaves. I may have set a few seeds on my imported plant, if not I have others to bloom.

I still am not entirely convinced that the plant Mr. F. sold me as Neo. marmorata is the genuine article and hasn't been fouled up by some cross in the past. However, he solemnly affirms the fact it is the real thing, so, that's what we will hold it as. The thing that is probably around in Australia is 'the flamboyant vivid red mottled on light green plant which has been called Neo. marmorata for at least two generations. I call it. "French hybrid" for lack of better identification, for it seems to me that years ago I heard it had it origin there. It is undoubtedly a cross of Neo. concentrica on one side, for I have raised seedlings that are very nearly pure concentrica from it, and some marbled number on the other side. It also throws spectabilis and many hundreds of my field Neoregelias in marbled form (but much less colorful) and spectabilis form came from it. If your local plant - the marmorata so-called is very small, it might well be what you term it, chlorosticta var. sarmentosa. The flowers on the "French hybrid" are bluish white. Foster says that the true marmorata is a rather small plant, maybe ten inches across - the one I have at least lives up to that test and it is marbled, but not brilliantly so. My tristis are really small but maybe it is variable, beside, if I recall correctly, the offsets come off on a long stolen. I know that there are good and bad tristis around. I got a beauty, from Van Hyning last year and it is no bigger than ampullacea. I also have a weedy type.

There has been a flood of Ae. chantinii, since last summer, as I think I wrote. People who regularly fly transport planes down the West Coast of S.A to bring back guppies for dime store sales finally got hep to bromeliads and their planes have been bulging. It has been an eye opener to see the variation among, the Chantinii, I bought about thirty or forty, at prices ranging from $1.50 for beat up offsets, to $4. for supposedly perfect plants - which weren't. Anyway, the plants run from tall, erect, numbers to traditional, urn-shaped Chantinii types, and, the banding runs from nearly solid white (as in the case of some of the Ae. fasciata from Europe) To plain green. I got a "pink one" from the importer not long back. It isn't pink, by a long shot, and I think it must be Ae. tessmanii, though I'm not sure that it has been reported from Peru. It looks, in actuality, very much like Chantinii and the bloom is very similar. I have a Foster cross of it with Chantinii and no banding came through, at all. Also there are banded plants some of which are seedlings, which have a purple under-leaf. I am rooting for this to be what Dr. Smith used to call Ae. amazonica and which Mr. F. has a block of which he charges $15. for an offset (I got some of his seedlings - he has never bloomed the plant - the seeds came in on one or two of the imported plants) for $1. each. His are darker than the new importations, but with the wide range already apparent in the green form, it is quite possible that the purple form is also equally variable. I think I have seeds set, selfed, showing that Chantinii in the wilds is not sterile, as the only cultivated clone is to its own pollen, on a plant, which. bloomed due to the shock of being removed from its jungle fastness and ending up at Gotha. The bloom head collapsed early and I was and am afraid that something may go amiss. If I get seed, I will send you a pinch.

I enclose a few seed of Ae. coelestis - not as handsome as its name might imply. Do you have it, or the variegated form?

Sincerely


May 8, 1961

 

Dear Bill,

Doubtless by now you have decided that I am the most ungrateful man around. The main reason I delayed thanking you for the most welcome bigenerics was that I wished to be able to report that they had adjusted themselves in good fashion. They looked fine on arrival, and then a slow decline commenced and I kept postponing the letter until I could report recovery. I think I can, now, on three of them, anyway, or one of each. No roots as yet, but, they don't look quite as desiccated. One conked out: the Bil. x Neo. carolinae (xNeobergia 'Noddy') and the Neo. #3 looks pallid - one of the does.

The other reason I haven't written is due to the fact that as you well know, I am not a short letter writer, if I can't write pages when I do write, I don't write at all. This will be the exception, for we are in the middle of Mother's Day week flower shipping, before this, we were, sort of swamped with bromeliad orders for a while. So, this is merely an earnest to thank you and the full scale thanks will follow. What I want to do now is get you a small packet of seeds which I am afraid will if I hold on, to them - Til. paraensis, from an imported plant. The seeds are about three weeks old and that, I fear, may be too old. Also, another small thing, Til. Andreana. Also, some seeds from Ae. x Nallii('Julian Nally'), probably crossed with Ae. recurvata var. benrathii, but maybe only selfed. I have the purple banded chantinii in bloom and three of the lesser banded Chantiniis - they have quite different form from the Chantinii that Mr. Foster has, and also from the similar wild form. I will save you seeds. I also have a Chantinii, a well-banded number, just ripening (I hope) seeds and I will remember you.

Mr. Foster was still in a twit about the bigenerics when he was called to New York on some real estate matter a couple o weeks back. He read me your letters and I imagine that his was a classic, of a sort. I was mute, entranced during the discussion.

Meanwhile, all of the best.


June 23, 1961

 

Dear Bill,

Your letter came as a great shock, for I had been under the impression that since Chas' operation his health had improved vastly, and, judging from your brief report, that apparently had been the case. I'm glad for him that he was growing things again and taking an active interest in the things he had loved, even though he was not permitted to see the fruits of his current labors. The main thing, as I see it, was that he was happy, as of the moment, and that's the most important thing of all. I think, lots of times, that it is the working toward an end, rather than the achievement of the goal that is the satisfying part of life. I think of old Dr. Nehrling, my predecessor here on this property, growing palms from seed in his seventies, T. L. Mead still hybridizing orchids which he must have known he'd never live to see bloom - even Foster, also in his seventies, taking up growing cycads from seed. So, maybe it wasn't too bad for Chas - he was spared a life of invalidism which might easily have happened, he was full of interest, and not waiting for the end with empty, idle hands. There are worse ways of going. I, of course, never had the chance to know the man, save through his letters, but the characteristics you speak so feelingly of came through his notes, loud and clear. He was a real person, rare in any age and time and I envy you having had the opportunity to know him personally. I wrote a small note to Mrs. Webb, not that there is much that I could say to lighten the load.

Don't worry about misplacing the last few seeds. I will check and the next time the same things are available, you'll get them, as you do anything I have. Your cycad seeds arrived a while back in good shape and apparently viable. Did the little Til. Andreana make the grade? I hear of you from Louis Herring and I note that you and he are conducting exchanges greatly to the benefit of the Post Office Department and I trust, to each other's! I have two different sorts of Ae. Chantinii just through blooming and a third type just commencing, and if I manage to set seed, you will get some. I missed completely on the one which unexpectedly came in bloom around the Christmas holidays.

I can give an interim report on the seedlings, the two hybrid Neo. crosses with Bil. nutans died, the two Carolinae crosses are alive and one growing, the two Neo. sp/? are still around - one probably going to die, the other more hopeful. I don't understand what got into them - they arrived in pretty fair shape. Foster is still livid, and good enough for him, too.

Enough for tonight - save to add that we have perhaps three or four thousand Aechmea x 'maginali' in bloom and we are busy pulling out the bloom stalks and shipping them as a cut flower - even as far away as San Francisco.

Sincerely,


July 11, 1961

 

Dear Bill,

I talked to Louis Herring the other evening - in fact, talked to him so long on the phone that I never got back to this letter - and he is all expectation over the impending arrival of more cycads. He has evidently been bitten by the bug badly. I was even more interested to hear that he is hoping to make a trip down your way, perhaps before the year is out. I hope that he does go, and that you get a chance to meet him, he is a nice fellow.

The Ae. fasciata x Ae. recurvata var. ortegesii (Chas Hodgson) are coming along splendidly, but have not attained full size, or at least I am pretty sure that they haven't, not being much larger than a shade-grown recurvata at this writing. I keep trying to imagine silver bars across the base of the leaves but so far, though there is silver, it is random. My largest (and I haven't hurried them) is about eight or nine inches tall. I think it will be a most attractive plant and if any of the fasciata bloom washes off on it, you will have a champion. The Neo. spectabilis x Neo. Meyendorfii have attained almost full size in a few instances and we should have bloom next year. I have been growing mine very light and very hard, and though there is some reddish purple marking at the base of the leaves, it is not general over the whole leaf surface. I have a few in the greenhouse where there is less light and they look remarkably like some of the Neoregelia hybrids which I bought, ex- Mead. It will be fun to see what happens when they bloom. Do you know that no one here had caught Dr. Smith in his classification blunder - that spectabilis turns red in the center when it blooms - which it certainly doesn't - until you picked it up? Needless to say, Mr. F added this oversight to his list of things which he took up with Dr. Smith a few weeks back in Washington and, no doubt, without giving you credit. I spotted another in the BRAZIL work, at least I am sure there must be something amiss, for Dr. S. describes Nid. innocentii var. Paxianum as having a broad white stripe down the center of the leaf and I am pretty sure it doesn't, if only from reading the number of places this plant has been collected and I doubt very much that this abnormality could have such general distribution. I have a so-called Paxianum and it is green as grass, not that that means much for I have plants, as do you which were given you under the wrong names. This point was also adopted by the Squire of Clarcona as his own discovery, likewise.

I can report with some surety now that the two seedlings of the Bil. nutans x Neo. carolinae (xNeobergia 'Noddy') are growing as is the seedling Neo. #3, was it? The crosses of the hybrid Neo. with nutans have given up the ghost, and it sort of makes me mad, for one of my peculiarities is not liking to lose plants when there is apparently no cause - and your material arrived in fair shape, too. However, I am well up a tree on a fungus, on Neo. marechali now, and I have about five thousand of them in pots and I am unhappy. Likewise, the summer pox has descended on five hundred or a thousand sturdy seedlings in 2 1/2", 3", and 4" pots of Aechmea fasciata. I don't think it is related to the other incubus, and it slays things a lot quicker. I lost some four or five years ago despite prayer and putting them out doors for the Lord to attend to. That's my usual system anyway, for there are so many fungicides now being offered that I am completely stymied.

It'll be fine if one of the crosses mentioned in the paragraph before the last turns out well, or better, if both of them do, so that you can make the gracious gesture of naming them for Chas. He would have loved that. If your Neo. carolinae x Bil. nutans (xNeobergia 'Noddy') passes muster when it blooms, I'd like to have the pleasure of naming it for you, since I feel sure that modesty and tradition would keep you from appending your handle to it. When I say passed muster, of course, I mean is OK'ed by Dr Smith, who despite lapses occasioned by not being familiar with living material can get trapped by color differences, is the soundest man we have around, I imagine.

I hope that you find a veritable bower of cycads in the far reaches of Queensland mostly undescribed and none of the present in Mr. F's. collection, or ever to be. I like F a lot most of the time, but his all-inclusive possessiveness sometimes gets me down, and don't ever think that I don't get a high rolling bounce out of having a few bromeliads he hasn't.

Oather Van Hyning has a nice Til. Deppeana in bloom and with what I thought was fine color, but Van, who has seen many of them in Mexico assures me that the coloration is not as vivid. I think you and I would settle for it, however. I don't do a good job at all with the Vriesea like Tillandsias but at least I have a lot of company, for many of them do not like Florida. We may be too low in altitude or the rainy season is wrong for them. I think that Van has a better lot than Mr. F., though not as many Brazilian species. I think the deppeana that is coming from Louis was Van's. Til. crispa (now Racinaea crispa), if I remember it a-right, wasted no time in knocking itself off for me and Ed Ensign to whom I turned over a few seeds, drew a blank on them. I'll have to look it up - my bromeliad books remain at my bedside upstairs.

I think that Wyndham Hayward is usually a good correspondent, for he does a little business here and there, around the world but his ancient Mother is not well and he has to devote a lot of time to taking care of her, I know. I thought you knew I owned the old Nehrling place, though you will be sorry to hear, that nothing in the way of bulbs, tubers, 'corms' or anything movable was here when I bought it, twenty-five years ago. Some day, if I can ever find a second-hand copy of his book on Florida horticulture I will send it to you, it is long out of print. Remarkably interesting, I think, though, I am biased. Foster has a few unusual things in the bulbous line that he found in Brazil, but you could probably work better through Wyndham, they are good friends.

I have a very few seeds of some supposed crosses I made which I will enclose, but don't expect anything much of them. I have found to my sorrow that the plants which self easily are terrors to keep clean when putting other pollen on, despite surgical operation. Ae. pubescens is one, both plain and rubra, Ae. angustifolia is another, and I have also had trouble with Ae. distichantha. I thought for a while, I had a valid cross of Ae. miniata discolor on Ae pubescens var. rubra but I have come to the conclusion that it is nothing but rubra. I am very interested in hybrid seed, so, as time goes by, and if your handiwork is successful to the point of being able to spare me three or four, 1'd greatly appreciate them. A very charming woman came by yesterday who clasped me warmly by the hand and said that the seedling of Aechmea mariae-reginae - one in a flat I sold her - came up with fine white variegation and that I could have an offset one of these days. Scanning my life expectation line and remembering how long it takes for that plant to mature and bloom and presumably make an offset, I am not sure that the eyes will be good enough to see it.

I understand the Bromeliad Society is going to put out a new handbook and include a list and brief description of the bromeliads which are currently being grown in this country. This should have been done a while back. Sometime, when you take annual inventory and draw up a list of your bromeliad holdings, remember I'd like to see what you have, though I fear it will be increasingly difficult for me to add anything you do not grow.

Well, I didn't mean to write a book, but I have been such a poor hand at holding up my end of our correspondence (which I enjoy a lot) that I am trying to make up in volume the frequency deficiency.

All the best


Oct 6, 1961

 

Dear Bill,

Many thanks for your long and interesting letter of the twenty-fifth, together with the welcome packets of bromeliad seeds.

This is going to be an interrupted letter, for I know as I commence that I can't answer several of your queries, offhand, besides, there is a TV program in half an hour! Dinah Shore, does she appear on the local sets?

I wish I could better remember the inflorescence of Billbergia nutans. It has gone from the status of a common plant to one seldom seen. More lack of interest than difficulty in growing. Oddly enough, in California, it can be grown as a field crop: dwarf, not more than six inches tall - down here it is liable to grow to a couple of feet long. All I remember is that the scape and floral bracts are a purplish pink: the flowers green, edged with blue. I'll be mighty interested to hear more as the flowers come out, and I may have an opportunity to see Fred Gerber's in bloom before mine achieves that state, for though my two plants are currently growing well, they are still small. I see Fred every so often - in fact, he and his wife spent a day with me last week and brought me offsets of a number of hybrid Vrieseas which came from Dave Barry, mostly, I think. I can't get very excited over crosses with x Mariae, or anything with carinata blood, as they all seem to end up looking more or less alike. Not that I am running down x Mariae, for I think it is a splendid plant and I am busily trying to grow ten thousand of them. I've reached seven or eight hundred, I'd guess. I gave him fifteen or so things he didn't have, so we were both happy.

If I sent seeds of our outdoor Neoregelia hybrids, it must have been last year. You get some rather startling results from this hybrid seed, though the two major divisions the seedlings fall into are marmorata and spectabilis. There is some concentrica blood in them, too, as I've had a few throw-backs. The marmorata you probably have is a large plant, with vivid red markings and a lime green leaf background. This is a hybrid and for lack of better definition, we call it the "French marmorata". True marmorata is a small plant and the marbling is not as distinct or as impressive. Seedlings from the "French marmorata" give both spectabilis and so-called marmorata and occasionally, a concentrica type. I have crosses of them with carolinae and a few might bloom next year. I will be interested to see if the centers turn red.

Now it's the 10th, and Dinah wasn't really worth it.

I've never clocked the length of time it takes to mature Neoregelia and Nidularium seeds, but I am sure that it is a long, long time. Must be close on to six months, at a guess. Incidentally, I found that seeds of Aechmea chantinii taken off so immature that they were practically jelly, grew fine. As you may be aware they have found that taking off orchid seed pods just as soon as the seed is formed, has given amazingly successful results and shortens the growing cycle by about six or more months. Tricky, of course.

I remember the screams from Foster about the supposed hybrid Nid. Burchelli. What may have thrown Foster is the presumable fact that your species Burchelli is a very different clone than his. After seeing what has happened to Ae. Chantinii, I'll never be the same, there are so many widely divergent plants, all worthy at least of a horticultural name. Next time I am over Fred Gerber's way, I'll peer not very intelligently at your two plants. As I recall, Smith's illustration is very much like the Nid. Burchelli I got from Foster some years ago, but I'll check it again when it blooms.

As far as I know, there is no such thing as Nid. Lila Rosea, with an apologetic bow in the direction of Dave Barry. It is probably one of the many hybrids he picked up on his trip to Europe. I do not have the plant . . . and there goes a half hour looking for Dave's last catalogue, which I could not find. No mention in the 1956 one I did locate. I'll check around and see if anyone locally has it.

I am not progressing very famously in being of any help thus far, I'm afraid. Now to the Nid. innocentii var. innocentii. It seems as though Foster had played footsie with the plants I got from him under this name, or the old one, Nid. amazonicum for the last couple of years I have raised some hundred of seedlings and they range all way from plain green to one matching the description in the Bulletin. Could be, of course, that the red form throws green. I don't know there has been anything in print about this. Anyway, locally, we accept the typical (Bulletin) form as the type. I don't have anything "flat, low growing" which is innoc. var. innoc. That other thing you received labelled Nid. amazonicum sounds very much like a number which showed up here last year and which is being tentatively called Wittrockia Smithii. I got it from Brazil as "Nid. #8". It is absolutely no kin to Wittrockia superba which has extremely hard, spiny leaves vigorously tipped with red. I haven't bloomed this "Nid. #8" but I have a bunch of seedlings from seed Ralph Davis got when he sent me the original plants from a Brazilian source. Bloom on superba is white, with very stiff and sharp spines protruding in the inflorescence, referring back, all of the Nid. innocentii var. innocentii I have set seeds very well and so do the variants: Wittmackiana, etc. I don't have Exotica so I can't refer to the photos, but as you note, most of them are too small to be of much service, and besides, woe! there is some nomenclatural difficulties as Graf is old school and uses out-moded European names.

Re: Nid. innocentii var. Paxianum, I told Foster about it (I don't know enough to go around pointing out Lyman Smith's mistakes, even if I am reasonably sure that he has made one. Foster glories in so doing and Lyman would just as soon punch him in the snoot as not most times, on general principles - even as you and I --- at times!) Anyway, it didn't seem right from a collecting standpoint, that a variegated plant could have such a wide range as Smith indicates, being found in many Brazilian states. Also, the plant I got from Longwood Gardens was plain green, not that that meant anything. However, it now turns out that the leaf of Paxianum when dried (!) shows a stripe down the middle. I haven't pulled a leaf from my so-called plant to dry and test. All in all, pardon the expression, it seems like a hell of a botanical distinction. You caught Lyman really far off base with the red centered Neoregelia which never gets a red center - what was it? spectabilis (my Brazilian book is upstairs)'?. I found another oversight the other night: Lyman says that the flowers of Ae. miniata (or was it Fulgens?) discolor are dark red. They are sort of that when the blue petals dry, which shows the dangers of living in an ivory tower and dealing with dead material. So, getting back to your Paxianum, chances are they are O K - go dry a leaf and see if they have a stripe.

I didn't know whether to include the following paragraph or not but it does have relevance. Hawkes may have been vilified because of his homosexuality which regrettably applies even in the enlightened 1990's. Whatever, his mimeographed sheets have been considered a valid publication which is now why we have the Nothogenus xNiduregelia instead of xNeolarium and may explain why this name was previously ignored. Secondly Mulford Foster has been put on a pedestal by many in the 1990's and yet this shows he had human frailties like us all.

According to a Miami pal, Hawkes got tossed out of the local Miami chapter of the Bromeliad Society because, as its first President, pro tem, he instituted the rule that a member who did not show up for a certain number of meetings was to be dropped forthwith. He forgot that this stricture applied to him, and so when he never showed up, they gave him the boot. His friction with the parent Society dates back many years. He worked for Foster once - everyone in the bromeliad business did at one time, it seems, save me - and later went on to become a really brilliant student of the orchidaceae. He drifted out to California, published an orchid magazine - a good one, too, but it came out only sporadically, and finally folded. Meanwhile, he got to be pals with a number of important orchid people who always seemed to be left holding the bag and as time went on, got to be persona non gratis with not only the California groups, but also Hawaii. He headed back to Miami and with his "boyfriend" started three or four mimeographed sheets covering about the entire range of tropical horticulture. He is a smart reader and most of his plant knowledge, save on Orchidaceae, comes from books. He knows very little about bromeliads. Most of this gossip comes from Foster and is biased but according to general reports, approaching the truth. I've never met him and am content. He and Foster had a royal exchange of snotty letters (each one wrote one, and they were read to me - sounded like both parties were about age eight) a couple of years back, but armed truce now prevails. Foster is odd as all get out, but never forget, that as far as cultivated bromeliads are concerned, he really knows his stuff, and on a lot of uncultivated ones, too. He is egocentric and not prone to give credit, passionately possessive about his plants, very rude at times, amazingly kindly at others, humorless about himself, corny about others, prolix to a degree on phone or in conversation, in which he does all the talking if he can get away with it - but not with me!, completely unwilling to ever admit that he has made a mistake, a very fine grower of many things, poor in others (like everyone else), careless about records, worse about labeling his plants, and on and on and on.


Nov. 2, 1961

 

Dear Bill,

This is going to be on the short side for I want it to get off so that its arrival will more or less coincide with I hope Dr. Lyman Smith's note to you. I neglected giving him your street address for it never occurred to me that he would be so meticulous (knowing him, I should have thought of it!) as to fire off an air mail, bearing the glad news that you have achieved a really important niche in the Hall of Fame (Bromeliaceae section) with his officially approved recognization of the first bigeneric between Billbergia and Neoregelia.(This is interesting in that this bigeneric did not appear in Smith and Downs Bromelioideae (1979) and was first to appear in my Checklist of Bromeliad Hybrids in Australia in 1982) I haven't phoned Foster yet, but when I do, you may rest assured that it will spoil his evening! I wish you could have heard him when I got him over to look at the inflorescence! He never comes here unless he wants something or else some Act of God occurs, such as your herbarium material. He couldn't bring himself even to say that it certainly didn't look like straight Bil. nutans. Incidentally, an extraordinary thing happened in connection with this material when I opened the box, I noticed a few of what I thought were bromeliad seeds loose in the bottom, and being at the Post Office when I opened the packet, I carefully tipped the supposed seeds into an envelope. On looking further, when I got home, a matter of a few hundred yards, imagine my amazement when I discovered that the box had another occupant: a well nourished caterpillar, about an inch long when ready to travel. How this scoundrel could have hid, to begin with, how he could have escaped the US Customs boys and their handy squirt gun is something I'll never know. Whatever he ate, in transit, was not apparent to the eye: perhaps it was the succulent bases of the few leaves you enclosed. This wanderer from Down Under looked very much like the character I discovered with difficulty who had been eating a flat of Aechmea fasciata and suddenly Australia didn't seem so far away!

Lyman had the following to say to me: (under date of Nov. 1, 1961) " ...many thanks for your entertaining letter (I told him about Foster!) of October 31, and the specimen bromeliad. I really believe it is a Billbergia x Neoregelia cross, and the reaction it produced must have been wonderful to witness. It must be quite a cross to bear." You can see that he, you and I belong to the same club!

One thing about Lyman, he really answers fast - note the dates above. How he can do it with all he has to do at the Smithsonian, I'll never know.

Sincerely


Feb 23, 1962

 

Dear Bill,

I have been owing you a letter of thanks for the seeds of the three Neoregelia species longer than I had intended, though I did want to wait until I could report on germination.
With the exception of Neo. concentrica, they did well, but it seemed to get fungus and I doubt if more than one sprouted, and perhaps it is an escape from a nearby row. I have a Neo.concentrica of a sort, actually it is a reversion to type from selfed seeds of our Neoregelia Marmorata hybrid. At least it gave me an inkling of a part of the parentage.

Today a letter arrived from Bill Hobbs of New Orleans, (now in Costa Rica) together with a good sized pinch of fresh seed from Vriesea Irazuensis,(Now Werauhia ororiensis) which is a charmer. Bill brought me a couple of plants last time he was in Costa Rica but they succumbed to our antagonistic climate, or perhaps to my unskilful growing. As I recall, the foliage has red overtones and is most attractive. The bloom, I suspect, is nothing. Perhaps you will be able to raise a plant or two from the enclosed seed and it may like your climate better than ours, though I hope that from seed we may have a better shot at growing it.

Nothing very exciting happening around here. As a state, we are battling another, California, who have put more embargoes on plant material from Florida. I am having great difficulty in getting clearance to ship several orders there. It is, in truth, much ado about nothing and largely political.

I am blooming for the first time for me, Ae. gracilis and Mr. Foster's #464 (now apocalyptica) which is very close to the calyculata group, but has blue flowers. Gracilis is, too, for that matter - near calyculata. More Chantiniis are sending up bloom stalks and we have quite a few flats of seedlings from last summer's blooming. Ae bromelifolia var. rubra is in bloom also for the first time for me. Lots of Billbergias, of course. Fred Gerber writes that your Bil/neo cross is going to bloom, he thinks. Mine is still much too small - I haven't done a spectacularly successful job growing it.

Maggie has been having a time with an ulcer and is still on a milk diet. Her major triumph was giving up smoking - just like that. Who said that women were the weaker vessel?

Speaking of Maggie, I treated two or three-thousand Ae. x Maggie - Nally with calcium chloride Dec. 15th, Jan. 15th and Feb. 15th and I can't report startling results. I think I must have gone too easy on the calcium on the first lot: I stepped up the dosage a little on the third. Two small pieces instead of one.

I hope all goes well with you and the family.


Feb 26, 1962

 

Dear Bill,

In some haste and considerable dismay, I write to say that, due to failing mind, I sent you all of the seeds of Vriesea Irazuensis(Now Werauhia ororiensis) last Friday, and didn't discover the fact until Saturday when I started to get to planting.

If you haven't planted the lot by the time this message reaches you, do you mind taking out whatever you want to plant for yourself and sending the remainder back to me? I'm awfully sorry to have to put you to the trouble and expense.

I went over to pick up some plants from Mr. Foster yesterday and the warm weather has helped erase much of the damage to his tropical plants. However, he lost a world of leaves on his cycads - all in some cases, though the plants are all right. He had a pretty bromeliad in bloom I had never seen before - an Ae. caudata cross with probably an unnamed Ae. (Foster's #464, with blue flowers) though the offspring had large yellow blooms.

I have to run to get this in the morning outgoing mail.

If you have planted the seed, no great harm done: I'll live.


March 27, 1963

 

Dear Bill,

I've been meaning to write you for months, but between an indifferent gall bladder and more recently an arterial spasm in a leg artery, I found myself thinking more of imminent immortality than I did my friends here on earth. Now that most of the symptoms have faded considerably, and with your recent letter with seeds to joggle me, I'm back at the typewriter. It squeaks protestingly, but not from disuse completely, for I spent most of last week writing a thirty-minute book review to be given before certain members of a near-by college - you would have thought that I was embarked on the Great American novel from the amount of writing and destroying that I did.

I was delighted to get the seeds of Vriesea racinae. I have a few plants (more than Foster has - I had to give him a couple to get him back in business) and I want more, as they are still an exceptionally rare item in the states. For one thing, they don't grow well for most people. Mine seem to thrive on neglect. I noticed the other day, right next to them, that the first bloom appeared on the Vr. petropolitana (now heterostachys)- discolor version, that you sent me so long ago through the mail: seedlings, tiny ones, from seeds you got from Mrs. Abendroth, I recall. I wouldn't call the plants really red, but they are certainly not green. Bob Wilson tells me, and gave me a couple of plants as examples, that you plant the seeds of the red clone and you get both red and green plants. He also gave me a discolor clone of Ae. victoriana - the one that Foster discovered and which is one of the parents of 'Foster's Favorite'. Foster would never let a plant get away from him. He had a shock day before yesterday, though, when he was showing some plants to a customer, he happened to leave his one plant of Vr. vulpinoides, the only one in captivity, I guess, near the several plants that man purchased, and when the man had packed up his plants and left, he found his rarity had vanished too - no doubt through inadvertence but still, gone. Also, he doesn't know the name of the taker, but does know where he lives, about sixty miles from here. The lost plant is strictly nothing, save that it is rare. Your bigeneric between Neo. meyendorfii - no, carolinae - and Bil nutans bloomed at a great rate this year and really got a nice color. Haven't bloomed your Ae. fasciata x Ae. recurvata, but I seem to have two markedly different types. I bloomed a Vr. amazonica the other day and it isn't much, save I never saw so much pollen. It is one of those stinkers that puts up the new plant spang in the center of the old plant, like Vr. bituminosa and splendens. I made a cross of Vr. simplex with an unrecorded red state x Vr. retroflexa and the two that have bloomed are almost straight retroflexa save that the plant is suffused with red. I think Dr. Smith says that retroflexa is probably a natural hybrid anyway. Foster bloomed a pretty little thing the other day: he has done it often before: Ae recurvata x Ae. comata, I think. Very hardy and diminutive. I have an old bigeneric, probably the first one made in this country by T. L. Mead, fifty or sixty years ago: Ae recurvata x Neo. carolinae (?).(This has not been recorded and needs further investigation. On first thoughts it would seem to be yet another form of Aechmea recuvata which self-sets seed readily.) Bloom is like recurvata only very heavy and whole plant turns luscious pink.

I bloomed a mystery hybrid the other day that looks as though it had Nid. billbergioides(now Canistropsis billbergioides) in it with Ae. comata. It had white flowers which is unusual as nearly as I can remember in Aechmea. Curious only: not beautiful. If I can ever get any seed, I'll send you my new species, Ae. nallii which looks like a Chantinii, only slightly prettier as to inflorescence. Leaves are green. I didn't set the first seed this year. I have a large three foot plant with dark green strap shaped leaves that came from Peru which looks like Chantinii, and also looks a little like tillandisoides. I keep meaning to send it to Dr. Smith (who hates the sight of a Chantinii as there are so many different forms) but I haven't gotten around to it. Ed Ensign and I have a single beautifully variegated Ae. orlandiana,(now 'Ensign') white variegation which turns partly pink. We are frightened to death that something may happen to it. I have a poorly variegated Ae. chantinii and a much better variegated cross of Ae. comata x Ae caudata (I think) (Is this the plant called 'Julian Nally' variegated? If so, it has a different parentage and needs a new name. I propose 'Gotha'). Also a nicely variegated plant from seed of Nid. innocentii var. innocentii x the green variegated one, so the plant is red with fine striations of white.

I didn't do much hybridizing this year; couldn't get up early enough in the morning, and l don't think I accomplished much last year either though I tried Ae. chantinii with about five or six things, Ae. ramosa with the same number, likewise penduliflora (Schultesiana). Selfed seedlings of 'Foster's Favorite' have given me a wide range of interesting things, including one natural cross between Ae. comata' and 'F. F.' from plant grown outside. Like comata, only red and really good. It bloomed like comata only with many fewer flowers. I'd like to remake Foster's cross between Ae. weilbachii and distichantha which gives a plant like the last mentioned with weilbachii coloring, only no green at all on it. Bloom isn't much. Foster calls it "Burgundy" for a guy who never has touched a drop of wine in his life, he sure goes in for bibulous nomenclature:- "Royal Wine" and now "Burgundy".

Now, I'd like to ask something. Apparently there is some of the same sort of disaffection among the bromeliad growers in your part of the world as there is here and it seems to have ended up with your losing your directorship on the Society's board. Not that these tempests in the tea pot mean anything and I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Who is mad at you and why did the California board listen to him? I was never consulted at all - if I had been, I wouldn't have to ask questions. I'd like to follow this matter up. Since I am strictly commercial, I ignore these intra-family bickerings. That is as far as the Society is concerned, I'm commercial.

This winter was the worst in Florida for 65 years and we lost about 50,000 Ae.x "Maginali" plants, though I know that many of the bases will no doubt put out a plant or so, given time. The several hundred thousand Neoregelia hybrids came through well, with no more than a damaged leaf or two per plant. The other odds and ends around the place, bromeliaceously speaking suffered in varying degrees, most of it severe. We had 20.0F. - Foster had l8.0F and looks it. Most of the younger citrus groves were badly hurt or killed and large trees came through with much less damage. Most of the Cocos plumosa palms - they have another name now that I can't remember - were badly hurt: all lost all of their leaves. We even had Phoenix reclinata and others similarly with every leaf dead - palms seventy or eighty years old. Same with bamboo - lots that had never lost a leaf before, killed to the ground.

Sincerely


August 13, 1963

 

Dear Bill:

Many thanks for the seeds which look interesting. I haven't forgotten about your colored slide of the Ae. 'Foster's Favorite Favorite' but there is such a mess of letters around I haven't been able to find the envelope which contains it, as I removed it from the enclosing letter for safety's sake and put it elsewhere. Never fear, it will turn up.

I never did hear what sort of an answer you got from Giridlian about the cavalier treatment you received in connection with your directorship. I certainly didn't get much satisfaction from Victoria. Luckily, you are being deprived of strictly nothing, for being a director is as empty an honor as you could find in a day's hike. As far as I'm concerned, that is.

Dr. Smith tells me that I turned up another new Aechmea in the greenhouse. It came from Lee Moore, who, in turn got it from the Indians in the Peruvian Amazon. It is a fairly large plant, green leaved, with a rather attractive tall inflorescence, pink-bracted, orange flowered and best of all, it blooms over a two month period. I don't know whether it sets seed or not: I'll try, and if it does, I will send you some. The Ae. nallyi won't seed for me: it is a more attractive plant, I think. I have another one of Moore's introductions in flower and it also resembles Ae. chantinii but it may be different. And yet another Moore plant which is either a Tillandsia or a Vriesea is at last going to flower.

The three acres of Ae.x'maginali' which were so badly frozen last winter are coming back, but the plants are pretty small and a cold winter would finish them off. The Neoregelia planting is now as good as new, Luckily for us, as we have sold quite a few offsets.

Bob Wilson of Fantastic Gardens in Miami has sold his business and is going to live in Costa Rica. He has Guz. zahnii growing wild on his property.

Sincerely


PLANTS

From the short period of 5 years that these letters covered it is clear that Julian did much hybridising and succeeded in some.
We know he had a species Aechmea named after him.
Aechmea nallyi L B Smith BS Bulletin 1963 page 124

Hybrids that are attributed to him in the Bromeliad Cultivar Registry are
Neoregelia 'Mary Jo' which appears to be a spectabilis hybrid. Does this have any links with the Australian 'Spectaline'?
Neoregelia 'Michael' a medium sized plant
Neoregelia 'Raspberry' medium sized too!

Cultivars with links to Julian.
Aechmea 'Julian Nally' - said to be apocalyptica (Foster's #464) x comata but as we have read, Foster did not know the parentage in the 1960's.
The plant called 'Julian Nally' variegated has me intrigued because I had assumed that it is a 'Julian Nally' that had variegated but the information in these letters suggests we could be talking about two different plants. The variegated form would be clonal because it could not be replicated by seed whereas we know that Julian himself was setting seed on his own xnallii now known as 'Julian Nally". The variegated form needs a different name and what better than 'Gotha' to remind us of its origins.

Billbergia 'Gothensis' - I have suggested that this hybrid relates to Julian Nally but because of his lack of appreciation of Billbergias I feel that this either arose from Henry Nehrling or T L Mead.

Billbergia 'Julian Nally' - this is a variegated form of Billbergia pyramidalis - wide leaf form.

Neoregelia 'Julian Nally' - a plant that has been in Australia for many many years with "from Julian Nally" on the label. We can but assume that it came in via Bill Morris. It has at least marmorata and spectabilis in its make-up and in 1998 on a trip to Townsville it was decided to be formal and officially name this plant 'Julian Nally' to get it in the record books.

Neoregelia 'Julian Nally'

REQUEST

If anyone has anything of interest that can be added to this article please let us know.
http://fcbs.org/