Philadelphus virginalis virginal

Philadelphus virginalis virginal

Habitat:

It prefers a site with full sun for best growth and prolific flowering. It is tolerant of a wide range of soils, but performs best in well-drained locations.

Description:

An attractive, white, double flowers with an outstanding fragrance in the late spring to early summer season. Choose a site with full sun for best growth and prolific flowering. This shrub needs plenty of space to grow and spread.  Use it as a background shrub or as a specimen plant. Just be sure to locate it where you can enjoy the sweet fragrance. Plant in groups, as a hedge row, privacy screen, or as an individual featured shrub in the garden.

This plant benefits from regular renewal or rejuvenation pruning. The process typically involves removing one-fifth to one-third of the oldest and largest stems at ground level. Cutting the larger stems encourages vigorous growth from the ground, making the shrub full from the bottom up. Selective pruning also improves the shrub’s flowering capacity by allowing more light to reach the interior of the plant.

Background:

This hybrid was developed in 1909 in France by Victor Lemoine (P. ×lemoinei ´P. nivalis plenus) and introduced as ‘Virginal’. It is worth taking time out to read about this man and his interesting life.

As a young man he completed his apprenticeship in gardening including working for a number of different nurseries in France. He then moved to Belgium to work for Van Houtte. Van Houtte was one of the specialists who received plants from explorers all over the world.  Finally Lemoine spent another unknown amount of time near Lille, with the firm of D’Auguste Miellez. Miellez had a fine reputation as a rosarian.

After Lemoine finished the apprentice period he immediately made it clear that he was going to do new and different things. In 1849 he bought a small piece of land in Nancy and opened his own nursery in the Rue de l’Hospice.  His aim was not to grow the obvious things that the public buys. He began almost immediately to select and cross-breed certain flowers. By 1852 he was selling the first documented double flower he had produced, possibly Portulaca grandiflora, originally from Brazil. In 1854, there was a double potentilla,’Gloire de Nancy’. The actual species with which he worked is not recorded. Within a few years, he began to prosper and by 1855 bought a much larger piece of land.

The family owned the firm until his son Henri closed it in 1960. The Lemoines had weathered the great tragedies of the Franco-Prussian War 1870-­1871 and the First and Second World Wars and the Second World War but were defeated by the post WWII peace. The extremes of austerity brought about by the war made ornamental horticulture almost impossible. The last few catalogues issued by the firm were very small, printed on poor quality paper and lacking the great profusion of plants which had characterised the family’s work before. Times were very hard and it is unclear what happened but partially it may be because they did not adapt to the new circumstances. What a sad end for a man that achieved so much.

Availability:

Generally only available from specialist nurseries.