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 Report of the Tulip Nomenclature Committee, 1914-1915 - Prefatory Note

Report of the Tulip Nomenclature Committee, 1914-1915

Return to: Home Page of the Report of the Tulip Nomenclature Committee, 1914-15..

By E. A. BOWLES, M.A., F.E.S., F.L.S.,
Chairman of the Committee.

THE existence and labours of the R.H.S. Tulip Nomenclature Committee were brought about by the rapidly increasing popularity during the last decade of the Garden Tulip. This popularity can be traced to the introduction to commerce of a race of especially sturdy, easily grown, self-coloured or Breeder Tulips, now known as the Darwin Tulips.

The taste for self-coloured Tulips spread rapidly, and old gardens in Flanders, Great Britain, and Ireland were ransacked by enterprising enthusiasts for other races of May-flowering Tulips. Most of these were the castaways of Tulip-raisers and were more often discovered in cottage gardens than elsewhere, and therefore a very heterogeneous set of plants has been gathered together under the name of Cottage Tulips. The vigour of most of the forms of these hitherto neglected strains proved so remarkable that it was not long before large stocks were accumulated, and the May-flowering Tulip was found to be an inexpensive and reliable plant for spring gardening, being quite as suitable for forming masses of colour in large gardens as for associating with other flowers in the smallest garden plot. Many firms of nurserymen were soon engaged in growing and selling them in Holland, Britain, and Ireland; new names were coined for them at such a rate and in so many different centres that a certain amount of confusion arose and the bestowal of more than one name for a variety was no uncommon thing,

Wherever a footpath exists over some open stretch of land, and especially where such a track is still in course of formation, it is generally noticeable that the track takes an indirect route. It may be that a winding course was used for no apparent reasons by the first who made a short cut; or again devious tracks wind away from the main one, due to the individual inclinations of pedestrians, and a network of paths may result, and need arises for signposts or fences to prevent strangers from losing their way. The opportunities for individual action in the naming of Tulips have been very numerous. Many growers translated foreign names into their own language; for instance ' Kanarie- vogel ' became 'Canary Bird,' and 'Rêve de Jeunesse' 'Dream.' Others, taking greater liberties, changed the name altogether. ' Salmon Queen ' and 'Landelle' represented the same variety, and Queen,' 'Sensation,' and ' Duc d'Orléans,' the flowering season showed he had but one brown variety and not five.

Tulip-growers were beginning to feel the time had come for some action to be taken; a fence was needed to prevent further straying into paths of fancy nomenclature. The climax was reached when a Darwin variety found to be useful for forcing was renamed in the R.H.S. Hall at a Spring show, and eventually appeared in lists at 2s. a dozen more under its new name than under the one it had borne for many years.

So in the autumn of 1913 the Council of the R.H.S. issued invitations to the leading growers to send Tulip bulbs to Wisley, and a joint committee of English and Dutch experts was appointed to draw up a scheme of classification that should be useful for Garden purposes, and to settle the synonymy of the varieties bearing more than one name.

This Committee, as originally formed, consisted of Mr. E. A. Bowles (Chairman),Mr. E. Krelage (Vice-Chairman), and Messrs. J. de Graaff, T. Hoog, Jan Roes, P. R. Barr, C. W. Needham, A. D. Hall, W. T. Ware, G. W. Leak, and the Rev. Joseph Jacob, with Mr. C. C. Titchmarsh as Trials Officer, and later was strengthened by the addition of Mr. R. W. Wallace. Mr. Jacob was deputed to visit Holland and, in conjunction with the Dutch Bulb-growers' Association, prepare a preliminary list of synonyms, and the Committee met at Wisley in April and again in May, both in 1914 and 1915, to consider the Early and May-flowering varieties while in full bloom.

It is a matter of great regret that, owing to the War and the consequent difficulty of travelling between Holland and England, the Committee was deprived of the valuable help of its Dutch members at their Wisley meetings in 1915. However, the lists of names were revised in Holland, and much valuable assistance was kindly afforded.

These lists alone will show the magnitude of the work before the Committee, and it would have been quite impossible to have examined and classified so many varieties, especially at the Conference held on May 13 and 14, 1915, in the R.H.S. Hall, but for the untiring zeal and willing co-operation of all those engaged in the work.

The thanks of the Committee are due to the donors of bulbs for the Trial, viz. Messrs. The Anglesey Bulb-Growers' Association, Llanfair, Isle of Anglesey; Barr & Sons, Covent Garden, London; R. H. Bath, Wisbech; Gebroeders Bijvoet, Haarlem; W. Blom & Sons, Haarlem; G. Bony, Clermont Ferrand, France; J. Carter, Raynes Park, S.W.; A. Dawkins, King's Road, Chelsea; De Graaff Bros., Leiden; Hogg & Robertson, Dubhn; Rev. J. Jacob, Whitchurch, Salop; Jefferies & Son, Cirencester; C. Kieft & Sons, Limmen, nr. Haarlem; E. H. Krelage & Son, Haarlem; J. R. Pearson & Sons, Lowdham; Polman Mooy, Haarlem; A. Roozen & Son, Haarlem; W. Rowlands & Co., Liverpool; W. Ruijnok & Sons, Hillegom; Gerrit Segers, Lisse; Van der Schoot & Son, Hillegom; Van Meerbeck & Co., Hillegom; J. Van Til Jshon, Hillegom; Van Tubergen, jr., Haarlem; Van Waveren & Son, Hillegom; Wallace & Co., Colchester; The Wargrave Plant Farm, Liverpool Street, E.G.; and E. H. Wheadon & Sons, Guernsey; to all concerned with the growing of the plants at Wisley; and especially to Mr. Titchmarsh, the Trials Officer, who made the notes on the growing flowers, superintended the collection of the immense number of cut blooms sent from Wisley to the Hall for the Conference, helped in their grading as to colour, and, with the assistance of the students, Messrs. A. T. Rudge, R. Wightman, N. K. Gould, and P. Greenway, recorded the place in the colour arrangement assigned to each variety, in itself a very heavy piece of work, and also drafted the descriptive report, faithfully embodying the decisions of the Committee at their many meetings.

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