This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The Bulletin de la Societe Linneenne de Normandie, 1876-77, just issued, has a biographical sketch of Victor Leroy, botanical-horticulturist, of Lisieux, from which some extremely interesting facts in reference to American plants may be obtained. He was an intimate friend of Michaux, and received many of the seeds and plants which he collected, - sharing with Cels and a few others whatever the great American traveler found. Victor Leroy died 7th of July, 1842; so the biography - by Amedee Tissot - has been a long time in appearing. Leroy, it appears, with a younger brother sailed for San Domingo " in 1775 or 1778, being then twenty or twenty-three years old." Among the many products of France which they took to San Domingo is enumerated plants of the "Bon Chretien" (Bartlett) Pear. They came to own a few years later an extremely valuable sugar plantation on one of the best parts of the island. In 1791 the revolution on the island met them, and the estate of the Le-roys was ruined. They escaped as by a miracle. Victor Leroy took refuge in Boston, and became a professor of languages. Here, about 1803, he became acquainted with Michaux, with whom he corresponded to the day of his death.
A few years later Leroy retired to Baltimore, devoted entirely to botany and horticulture, and making occasional trips to the forests of Tennessee, Erie, Ontario, the Alleghanies and elsewhere, sending the seeds he collected to Paris, London, and other places in Europe. He made voyages with plants to France in 1811, 1817, 1818, settling finally in France in 1S31.
Among the remarkable statements is the one that the Ęsculus rubicunda, the red flowering horse-chestnut, was one of his introductions. The statement of the Bon Jardinier is quoted that the plant was raised from a seed given to the Garden of Plants in 1812 by Michaux, with the remark that " this is true," but it was given to Michaux by Leroy, who brought it to Paris in his voyage of 1811. We must regard its origin as still obscure, for we cannot think it referable even as a variety to any known American species. Among other things, Styrax laevigata, Jeffersonia diphylla, Pyrus coronaria, Epigsea repens, the Isabella grape " from Baltimore in 1838," many oaks, seem to have been the introductions of Leroy to France. The Osage orange was introduced by him through seeds given to him by Captain Lewis, through an "American botanist, McArran." McArran's contemporary, McMahon, has hitherto, we believe, had the sole credit of distributing this original seed. " Leroy cultivated the seeds in the vicinity of Baltimore in 1815, and after being satisfied that it was a new species he dedicated it to his botanical friend Maclure." Fruit was sent in 1820. In 1823 three seeds grew in Paris, and in 1824 some grew in England. Thus credit is claimed for France one year before England in the introduction of the Osage orange.
We find also from this sketch that Michaux had the double Chinese Wistaria in 1837, from a speci men given him by Leroy on his return to France in 1831, - so that this plant probably originated in the hands of some florist on American soil. By the aid of Victor Leroy, Michaux had an American forest planted in the Bois de Boulogne. The biographer says in 1873, when he commenced to make his notes, he visited the forest, and found it nearly destroyed through the German invasion of Paris. In the park of the Chateau d'Harcourt, however, a young plantation has been made.