This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Our attention has been directed to this subject on account of our having received from a correspondent in Norfolk two flowers reported to have been picked from one plant, all of whose stems proceeded from one root, and on which there was about an equal number of blossoms of each colour. One of the flowers measured 2 1/2 inches in diameter, bronze-coloured in the body, with yellows-tipped petals, inclined to quill, full centre; the other measured 3 1/2 inches in diameter, and was a deep red maroon, with petals inclined to reflex, centre starry.
Our correspondent speaks confidently as to these two very differently coloured flowers having been produced by one plant; and this being the case, we have ventured to bring the matter under the notice of our readers, in the hope that some one may be able to throw such light on the subject as may lead to an explanation of the anomaly.
We have ourselves seen the old two-coloured incurved come sometimes bright yellow or orange, while at other times it would be a fine maroon; but it has always maintained the same shape, which our correspondent's flowers have not.
Mr. Gordon, superintendent of the ornamental department in the Horticultural Society's Garden, whose knowledge of flowers and plants is very great, says, that " the mutability of colours in the Chrysanthemum flower is of old date, and was observed to occur many years ago, when it was no doubt more common than it is now, and probably was owing to some differences caused by change of climate on the plants being first introduced; for the more common cases happened in plants first propagated from the original stock, shortly after they were imported from China. Mr. Sabine, in a paper read before the Horticultural Society so far back as February 1820, states that the old changeable white, or Lee's white, as it was sometimes called, was obtained from a sport of the old quilled purple; and that the variations in its colours were great: sometimes the florets were pure white, especially in cold seasons; sometimes the backs of the inner florets and the whole of the outer ones were pale purple; sometimes each floret was striped white and purple, and on which account it had been called the Magpie Chrysanthemum; while in a warm situation, and in a fine autumn, the centre florets would become purple, and the outer ones white; and at other times, though but rarely, one side of the whole flower would be purple, and the remainder white; and I have even seen the flowers become entirely deep purple, like the original, in very warm seasons.
"Another old kind, known as the Buff or Orange, a sort with dingy orange or buff florets, sported, and produced a variety with rose-coloured flowers, which was recognised in old collections under the name of ' Rose or Pink.' This variety first sported in the garden of Mr. Veres at Kensington Gore, as far back as 1800, a year or two after its introduction, and since then it has frequently produced flowers, first of the one colour and then of the other. The rose-coloured variety produced another variety in the same way with very pale flowers. Since that time many similar freaks in colour have been observed; but the most distinct which I have seen occurred on a plant in the Society's collection, in which a kind with dull brownish-purple flowers produced a stem with bright yellow flowers, some of which had florets of the original colour, and one flower three-fourths bright yellow, and the remainder dull brown-purple".
Our best thanks are due to Mr. Gordon for his excellent letter; and we trust that others will come forward in the same friendly manner, and record their experience in regard to this very curious and interesting subject, which is well worth a little investigation.