2 thoughts on “Lady-Mary-Cromartie

  1. My aunt’s name was Mary Cromartie and she had beautiful camellias growing throughout her property in Gainesville, Georgia. She died several years ago. Where did you get the name “Lady Mary Cromartie”?

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    • There are two plants of this variety in the collection at Mount Edgcumbe, Plymouth, UK but their records show no planting date or source for the variety. Here is the Camellia Register entry for the variety:

      “Lady Mary Cromartie. (C.japonica), Fruitland Nursery Catalogue, 1941-1942, p.28: A large size, deep rose-pink, incomplete double, 10-11 cm across, 8-10 large, outer petals, broad-ovate, recurved, deeply notched; centre of flower, wide spreading, stamen cluster, surrounded by small, semi-erect inner petals. Filaments light yellow, anthers golden. Leaves elliptic, dull, dark green, thin, flexible, 8.5 cm x 4.5 cm, acuminate apex, serrations broad and shallow. Originated at Magnolia Gardens, John’s Island, South Carolina, USA. Orthographic errors: ‘Lady Mary Cromarte’, ‘Lady Mary Cromarty’, ‘Lady Marion Cromartie’. Abbreviation: ‘Mary Cromartie’. Sport: Lady Mary Cromartie Variegated. Pseudonym: ‘La Reine’. Synonym: ‘Lady Mary Cromartie Pink’. See black & white photo, p.201, Hertrich, 1954, Camellias in the Huntington Gardens, vol.I.”

      If your aunt was keen on camellias she is likely to have known other enthusiasts, breeders and nurserymen within her orbit. A Google search on ‘Lady Mary Cromartie’ didn’t throw up any public figures of that name for whom it might have been named. The name was also used as a synonym for a European variety called ‘La Reine’ which was imported into America in the 1840’s so presumably the name ‘Lady Mary Cromartie’ is much older than the modern variety of that name, although I have found no information about when ‘La Reine’ started to be called ‘Lady Mary Cromartie’. Here is the entry for ‘La Reine’:

      “La Reine. (C.japonica), Veitch, James Jr, 1853, Catalogue of Select Stove Plants…, p.14. Fine imbricated white. Frères Noisette, Nantes Nursery Catalogue, 1857, p.36: Pure white with broad pink stripes; peony form. Kite, J., Apr.1859, The Florist, Fruitist, and Garden Miscellany, 12:116: Rosy red, semi-double. Originated in England. Synonyms: ‘La Reine(2)’, ‘La Reine II’. In America ‘Lady Mary Cromartie’ was erroneously given as synonym for La Reine. Sport: La Reine Variegated.”

      It is possible that the Mount Edgcumbe plant is in fact ‘La Reine’ but as you can see, the Register entry is singularly unhelpful in that it contains three seemingly irreconcilable descriptions from different sources. The Mount Edgcumbe plants do match the description for ‘Lady Mary Cromartie’ so I have given them the benefit of the doubt as regards the name being correct. Welcome to the confusing world of Camellias!

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