Category Archives: People

Antoine Crozy

Antoine Crozy

Pierre Antoine Marie Crozy (1831-1903) [also called Crozy aîné—French for “elder”] was a nineteenth-century French rose breeder, a partner in the French firm, Avoux & Crozy, La Guillotière, Lyon, actively breeding roses from the 1850s to 1860s.

Following the sensational  introduction of Canna Annei many nurserymen took up breeding new varieties of canna. From the early 1860s until his death in 1903 Monsieur Crozy was also hybridising Canna species, and introduced many hundreds of new cultivars.

CannaAntoine Crozy
Monsieur Crozy’s goal was to turn Cannas from being primarily a foliage plant, with pretty but insignificant flowers, into a floriferous plant that could compete alongside any other genera in the flower beauty stakes. How well he succeeded can be judged by the fact that by the time of his death in 1903 the Canna was the most popular garden flower in both his native France and in the USA, where it even outsold roses.
CannaAdmiral Courbet
Antoine Crozy’s work and influence were recognised outside France too, notably in Britain.  In 1888 the  RHS gave 70 of his new introductions First Class Certificates, and many of them are, surprisingly perhaps, still available, forming the basis for the largest single group of canna in modern catalogues. 

In 1866 Monsieur Crozy introduced his first cultivar,  Canna Bonnetti, which has staminodes that are 45mm. in length and 13mm. in breadth, and by the time of his demise his new cultivars were being introduced where the size had been increased to 66mm by 35mm, and this was achieved purely by selective breeding.

CannaMadame Crozy

The different colours and colour patterns in bloom and foliage were introduced by crossing his hybrids with other species, such as Canna iridiflora. Basically, Crozy raided the species to supply him with any new feature he required.

The most famous of the cultivars introduced by Crozy was CannaMadame Crozy’, and this was later used by both Carl Sprenger in Italy and Luther Burbank in California to cross with the species Canna flaccida to produce the first of the Italian Group Cannas.
CannaArthur William PaulThor Dalebö.

George Paul, the Cheshunt nurseryman, saw Crozy’s canna beds in the gardens of  the 1890 Paris Expo and said he was “won over by the beauty of the new race” because they were “most effective and seemingly of easy culture in the open air.”  In his wide-ranging article about growing and hybridising canna Paul also went on to admit that he had tried and signally failed to emulate Crozy’s success.

Writing in the Gardeners Chronicle, Mr George Paul referred to correspondence he had received from Monsieur Crozy.

My debut in the race of Cannas dates from about twenty years ago. I began with C. Warscewiczii and C. ‘Nepalensis Grandiflora’, a tall variety of which I have reduced its height little by little. My first gain was C. Bonnetti, a variety much appreciated at the time ; since that period, constantly progressing, I succeeded in obtaining the splendid variety Madame Crozy, which by the year I had it ready to put into commerce, had given me 1,000 seedlings. These flowering have given me all shades of colour, and since then I have improved in the rose and carmines, even attaining nearly to whites.Gardeners Chronicle of November 25, 1893
CannaAntoine Barton
George Paul was not the only nurseryman to try and emulate Crozy.  Kelways nursery listed 25 canna varieties in their 1893 catalogue including 6 of their own breeding, while Veitch’s carried 33 in 1896, and Cannell of Swanley as many as 96 the following year.   Indeed there were so many that Gardeners Chronicle [7th Oct 1893] even carried a basic classification system for garden varieties “simple enough to enable… anyone to frame his catalogues in accordance with it”.

Monsieur Crozy was accorded the nickname Papa Canna, as he was considered to be the father of Cannas, but was more commonly referred to as Crozy aîné (French for “elder”), He was succeeded by his son, Michel Crozy, who died only five years later at the tender age of 37 years, thus ending one of the most important and dynamic periods in the history off Canna.


Species and Varieties, their Origin by Mutation Lectures delivered at the University of California 1904 by Hugo DeVries, Professor of Botany in the University of Amsterdam
Hugo DeVries

As an illustrative example I will take the genus Canna. Originally cultivated for its large and bright foliage only, it has since become a flowering plant of value. Our garden strains have originated by the crossing of a number of introduced wild species, among which the Canna indica is the oldest, now giving its name to the whole group. It has tall stems and spikes with rather inconspicuous flowers with narrow petals. It has been crossed with C. nepalensis and C. warczewiczii, and the available historic evidence points to the year 1846 as that of the first cross. This was made by Anneé between the indica and the nepalensis; it took ten years to multiply them to the required degree for introduction into commerce.

These first hybrids had bright foliage and were tall plants, but their flowers were by no means remarkable. Once begun, hybridization was widely practiced.

About the year 1889 Crozy exhibited at Paris the first beautifully flowering form, which he named for his wife, C. ‘Madame Crozy’. Since that time he and many others, have improved the flowers in the shape and size, as well as in colour and its patterns. In the main, these ameliorations have been due to the discovery and introduction of new wild species possessing the required characters.

This is illustrated by the following incident. In the year 1892 I visited Mr. Crozy at Lyons. He showed me his nursery and numerous acquisitions, those of former years as well as those that were quite new, and which were in the process of rapid multiplication, previous to being given to the trade. I wondered, and asked, why no pure white variety was present. His answer was “Because no white species had been found up to the present time, and there is no other means of producing white varieties than by crossing the existing forms with a new white type.”

Comparing the varieties produced in successive periods, it is very easy to appreciate their gradual improvement. On most points this is not readily put into words, but the size of the petals can be measured, and the figures may convey at least some idea of the real state of things. Leaving aside the types with small flowers and cultivated exclusively for their foliage, the oldest flowers of Canna had petals of 45 mm. length and 13 mm. breadth. The ordinary types at the time of my visit had reached 61 by 21 mm., and the “Madame Crozy” showed 66 by 30 mm. It had however, already been surpassed by a few commercial varieties, which had the same length but a breadth of 35 mm. And the latest production, which required some years of propagation before being put on the market, measured 83 by 43 mm.

Thus in the lapse of some thirty years the length had been doubled and the breadth tripled, giving flowers with broad corollas and with petals joined all around, resembling the best types of lilies and Amaryllis. Striking as this result unquestionably is, it remains doubtful as to what part of it is due to the discovery and introduction of new large flowered species, and what to the selection of the extremes of fluctuating variability.

As far as I have been able to ascertain however, and according to the evidence given to me by Mr. Crozy, selection has had the largest part in regard to the size, while the color-patterns are introduced qualities. ,

Ed. C. nepalensis was just a synonym of C. glauca, and C. warczewiczii is a sub-species of C. indica.

Antoine Wintzer

Antoine “Leon” Wintzer

BORN:1st April 1847, Alsace, France
DECEASED: 4 Feb 1925. age 77 years, London Grove, Pennsylvania, USA
OCCUPATION Vice-president of Conard and Jones, USA.

Gardening Magazine of 1907 offered the following profile of Wintzer, which cannot really be improved on:

CannaUncle Sam

Antoine Wintzer’s father emigrated to America in the year 1854. He brought with him all his family except his oldest son, who was then an active participant in the Crimean War. His father was a gardener and soon obtained a good position after landing in New York.

CannaThe President

Antoine was six years old when they arrived, and between the years of 1854 and 1862 , he attended the public schools, most of the time at Flushing, New York, where his father had moved in 1857. In March 1862, when he was 15 years old he entered the Parsons [Nursery] establishment as an apprentice. At this time the Parsons were the largest growers of nursery stock in America.


Antoine Wintzer inherited a genius for finding out the requirements of plant life, and under the skilful tuition of J. R. Trumpy, he rapidly acquired the practical features of growing grapes and roses, but after spending two years at Parsons’ he became dissatisfied, because the line of work they kept him at was too narrow. So he left Parsons and engaged with Eugene Bauman, one of the most prominent landscape gardeners in the east. His idea was to learn landscape work, but Mr. Bauman, who had now settled at Rahway, N. J., found that Mr. Wintzer was such a skilful propagator that he gave him full charge of the one greenhouse that he then owned. He allowed Mr. Wintzer to experiment with different methods of propagation and it was here that the latter reached settled conclusions in certain lines, especially the propagation of hardy shrubbery, and he still feels that his experience with Mr. Bauman has been a most valuable asset in his life work.

CannaIndianaAcre Meadow Plants

At Rahway Mr. Wintzer contracted malaria, and left his position with Mr. Bauman to recuperate at his father’s home in Flushing. After regaining his health Mr. Wintzer engaged with Mahlon Moon, at Morrisville, Pa., as propagator of evergreens, roses, etc., but his stay here was a short one, he being again threatened with an attack of malaria. From Morrisville he went to Sewickley, Pa., and engaged with James Wardrope, but his stay here was short as he again contracted malaria and left for home. He has most delightful recollections of his short sojourn at Wardrope’s.

CannaCity of Portland

After recovering from the attack of malaria, he went to West Grove, Pa., and accepted a position with the Dingee & Conard Co. He arrived at West Grove on July 31, 1866, the anniversary of his wife’s birth, so he says he cannot forget the date. On August 1 he commenced work.

Canna ‘Wintzer’s Colossal’

They had two small greenhouses, 10×80 feet each, at this time. This company at that time was doing a general nursery business having over 300 acres devoted to the growing of fruit and ornamental trees, shrubbery, roses, etc., which they sold almost entirely through agents. This business proved to be unprofitable and it was Mr. Wintzer’s ability as a propagator of roses that saved the company from being totally wrecked financially. The company perceived that there was an increasing demand for roses grown on their own roots and Mr. Wintzer was very successful in growing the roses, by a process which he claims was his own invention. At this time the roses were sold almost entirely as one year plants and shipped by mail to the purchaser. By advertising in a very few papers, enough customers were found to take all the roses they could grow in the few greenhouses that then comprised the plant. Other greenhouses were built and a catalogue published to help make sales, the business grew and prospered and most every year new greenhouses were added to the plant. This continued till the year 1892 when the greenhouses numbered 70. Mr. Wintzer’s ability as a propagator was now fully established; he had produced fine healthy rose plants all thtse years and the number he could grow was only limited by the space at his command to grow them in.


Unfortunately in 1892, differences arose in the management of the Dingee & Conard Co. and the late Alfred F. Conard, who had always been President of the company withdrew, and a year later in 1893 Mr. Wintzer withdrew, leaving to others a business that had been reared upon his life work as a skillful, untiring and devoted grower of the Queen of flowers.

CannaStatue of LibertyCourtesy of Alice Harris

Mr. Wintzer had purchased a small farm about one mile from West Grove and had built thereon a commodious modern residence and in the fall of 1893 he erected two greenhouses. His business was continued with varying success and connections till the year of 1897. Mr. Wintzer was very anxious to enlarge the business and the late Alfred F. Conard, who had been associated with him for so many years previous to 1892, and S. Morris Jones, a business man of West Grove knowing Mr. Wintzer’s great ability as a propagator, furnished him capital to organize the Conard & Jones Company.


The new company purchased from Mr. Wintzer 35 acres of ground and his greenhouse plant, which had grown to seven greenhouses. That year the company erected seven more greenhouses, an up-to-date packing house, a large boiler room, coal bins, and a frost proof house for storing dormant plants. The plant has been largely increased in size so that now the company ranks among the largest in this line of business in America. The firm issues a catalogue of 136 pages, roses having first place, and in connection therewith shrubbery, cannas, bedding and decorative plants, flower seeds and bulbs.


In 1893, when Mr. Wintzer started business on his own account, he commenced a careful methodical line of work to improve the canna. In this he has been successful beyond his most sanguine expectation, but most deservedly so, for no one who has not followed him in it can imagine the amount of work or the time required to develop a shade of color when there is no parent of that shade to work with. It takes exceptionally good judgment on the part of the hybridizer to improve each succeeding year the feature in the plant or flower that he is trying to develop. Mr. Wintzer has shown that he has this ability in a marked degree, and Mont Blanc, Buttercup, Betsy Ross, West Grove, Maiden’s Blush, and other varieties that he has succeeded in originating, place him in the first rank if not at the head of canna producing experts.

Antoine Pfitzer

Mr. Wintzer at the age of 59 is still as hard a worker as ever; his health is good and we look forward to many more years of successful work from his hands and brain. Above everything else Mr. Wintzer wants it to be understood that rose growing is his specialty; he wants the company that he is connected with to be recognized as second to no other concern in disseminating roses of the very best quality, and on their own roots, and he wants to live long enough to establish the fact that his method of propagating roses is the very best method that has yet been devised for producing roses of the highest grade and greatest vigor of growth.

Mr. Wintzer is vice-president of the Conard & Jones Co. and has been general manager of the greenhouse department, ever since the company started in 1897.





Árpád Mühle

Árpád Mühle

pseudonym: Linné the planter 

BORN: November 7, 1870
PLACE: Temesvár, Austria-Hungary
DECEASED: July 22, 1930 in Sinaia, Kingdom of Romania
OCCUPATION Landscape architect, canna and rose grower, imperial councillor and author

Árpád Mühle, portrayed by the painter Adalbert Varga.

Árpád Mühle was the son of landscape architect Wilhelm Mühle and after attending the Piarist high school, he undertook a number of study trips to Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and the USA. In 1898 he took over his father’s horticultural business, which he modernized.  He led, for example, heating in the greenhouses of his father’s business one, which allowed the export of plants and cut flowers in the cold season. 

  • Mühle was a supplier to the Serbian and Bulgarian Royal families.
  • In Bucharest he participated in the design of the Cişmigiu Park.
  • In Sinaia he planned the city park of Peleş Castle.
  • He designed the Japanese garden in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
  • Built a park on Prinkipo Island in the Marmara Sea off Istanbul. The Sultan awarded him the Medjidie order for this.
  • Based on his statistics on the export of agricultural and horticultural products, he was awarded the title of a Austro-Hungarian commercial council in 1912.
  • As a co-founder of the Rose Friends Association, he designed and designed the rose garden in Timișoara.
  • The Romanian state later awarded him the medal “Order of Merit for Trade and Industry”.

Mühle’s attention was focused on roses and canna, but also exotic plants and their acclimatization in the Banat. He bred the canna variety Canna ‘Margarethe Mühle’, amongst many others, and he also registered 13 new rose varieties. 

Árpád Mühle published articles in the Temesvarer newspaper under the pseudonym “Linné the planter”. His “Gartenbauanzeiger” was published twice a week and was offered to its customers free of charge. 

In book form, he published several books and rose catalogues, but of most interest to the canna community was his seminal work Das Geschlecht der Canna. Deren Geschichte, Cultur und Anzucht. This work was published in 1909,and no further book devoted to Canna was published until Ian Cooke’s The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Cannas in 2001. As a result Mühle’s book was the mainstay for canna research for over 90 years, and much of what we know nowadays about canna is derived from that work.

On August 1, 2014, the bust of Árpád Mühle was ceremoniously unveiled in the rose garden in Timișoara.  It stands not far from the bust of his father Wilhelm Mühle.


Marcelle Sheppard

BORN: February 01, 1929
PLACE: Friendship Community near Roganville, Texas, USA
DECEASED: September 23, 2019
OCCUPATION Owner of Marcelles Crinums Nursery at Vidor, Texas, USA.

Marcelle Sheppard

Although primarily a Crinum grower Mrs Sheppard had a soft spot for Cannas as well, and raised many new cultivars which were introduced to the market by her long-time agent, the nurseryman Herb Kelly.

Over the years Marcelle Sheppard has hybridized a 

CannaZulu RougeMarcelle Sheppard

number of winning Cannas.  Probably the most well-known and popular is CannaZulu Rouge’ with its dark (almost brown-black) foliage and bright red flowers.

In correspondence Mrs Sheppard supplied the editor with a list of the canna cultivars she has introduced, along with their genetic provenance.

  1. C. ‘Blushing Beauty’ – Confetti x Chinese Coral
  2. C. ‘Brocade’ – Parks Grande Opera seeds. Parks is a US garden mail order retailer.
  3. C. ‘Chinese Lantern’ – Color Clown seedling.
  4. C. ‘Colortime’ – Color Clown seedling.
  5. C. ‘Cremora’ – Eureka x Confetti
  6. C. ‘Fantastic Red’ – Parks Grande Opera seeds
  7. C. ‘Gold Mine’ – a rogue that just appeared in a Canna bed
  8. C. ‘Heart Throb’ – Parks Seven Dwarf seeds
  9. C. ‘Honeycomb’ – Unknown
  10. C. ‘Lemonade’ – Confetti seedling.
  11. C. ‘Lunar Light’ – Color Clown seedling.
  12. C. ‘New Dawn’ – Parks Grande Opera seeds
  13. C. ‘New Day’ – Parks Grande Opera seeds
  14. C. ‘New Era’ – Parks Grande Opera seeds
  15. C. ‘New Horizon’ – Unknown
  16. C. ‘New Sensation’ – Unknown
  17. C. ‘Orange Chiffon’ – Unknown
  18. C. ‘Orange County Texas’ – Clown Color seedling.
  19. C. ‘Orange Delight’ – Unknown
  20. C,. ‘Pale Beauty’ – Unknown
  21. C. ‘Peaches’n Cream’ – Parks Seven Dwarf seeds
  22. C. ‘Pink Lace’ – Unknown
  23. C. ‘Phalia’ – Eureka x Confetti
  24. C. ‘Porcelana’ – Chinese Coral seedling.
  25. C. ‘Pretty Butterfly’ – Green-leafed from my Red Leafed seedlings
  26. C. ‘Pygmy Flame’ – Unknown landscape small flowered red.
  27. C. ‘Red Ribbons’ – Unknown
  28. C. ‘Rose Beauty’ – Green leafed Rosever seedling.
  29. C. ‘Rose Ribbons’ – Seedling from one of the Grande Opera cannas.
  30. C. ‘Scarlet Fever’ – Confetti seedling.
  31. C. ‘Spotted Fever’ – Only seedling from the other C. Confetti which was so pretty.
  32. C. ‘Tangerine’ – Parks Seven Dwarf Seeds
  33. C. ‘Topaz’ – Unknown.
  34. C. ‘Tropical Sunrise’ – Unknown.
  35. C. ‘Weinsap Red’ – Parks Seven Dwarf seeds.
  36. C. ‘Zulu Apricot Nector’ – Rosever seedling.
  37. C. ‘Zulu Best Friends’ – Unknown
  38. C. ‘Zulu Maiden’ – Unknown.
  39. C. ‘Zulu Masquerade’ – Sport from Cleopatra.
  40. C. ‘Zulu King’ – Unknown.
  41. C. ‘Zulu Princess’ – Rosever seedling.
  42. C. ‘Zulu Queen’ – Confetti seedling.
  43. C. ‘Zulu Rouge’ – Rosever seedling.
  44. C. ‘Zulu Warrior’ – Color Clown seedling.

It is immediately obvious how many fine cultivars have been obtained from the now neglected Grande Opera Series. Thankfully, they are all still available for anybody who troubles to collect them, however, the same cannot be said for the Severn Dwarf Series, which seems to have become extinct.

All of Mrs Sheppard’s cultivars are in the Crozy Group, except for C. ‘Zulu Masquerade’, which is an Italian Group sport from C. ‘Yellow King Humbert’ (syn. Cleopatra).

Finally, C. ‘Color Clown’ (syn. C. ‘Percy Lancaster’) has proven to be an outstanding seed parent for Mrs Sheppard, and those contemplating hand propagation should consider this as an outstanding seed and pollen parent.

Sydney Percy-Lancaster

Sydney Percy-Lancaster, F.L.S., F.R.H.S., M.R.A.S. was born on 19 July 1886 at Meerut, India. His father, Percy Lancaster, was a banker and a talented amateur gardener, who went on to become the Secretary of the Agri Horticultural Society of India in Calcutta, India.

In 1902 Sydney Percy-Lancaster was apprenticed to the Agri-Horticultural Society and on his father’s death in 1904, he was appointed an Assistant. He continued collecting and hybridising the Alipore Canna Collection, started by his father in 1892, they were the most popular garden plant in India at that time. It was said that every Canna cultivar growing in India had been derived from the Agri-Horticultural Society, where the collection was domiciled.

In 1910, he became an Assistant Secretary and then the Secretary in 1914 until his retirement in October 1953, after a long service to the society and to Indian horticulture as a whole. Unlike most of his countrymen who packed up and return to England in 1947, upon the independence of India from the British Empire, Percy-Lancaster stayed on and made India his home. In 1947, he was the last Englishman to hold the post of Superintendent of Horticultural Operations, Government of India.

In November 1953, he joined the National Botanic Gardens at Lucknow as Senior Technical Assistant because of his early life’s association with Sikandar Bagh. He wished to spend the remainder of his life at Lucknow where the gardening traditions of his family began. A close friend of Doctor Khoshoo, he co-operated on the canna radiation experiments conducted at that time at Lucknow. He served the National Botanic Gardens of India until January 1959 when his son, Alick Percy-Lancaster, pressed him to join the family at Salisbury (Southern Rhodesia), taking with him plants from the Alipore Canna Collection for enjoyment in retirement.

In November 1961, after his wife’s death in 1960 and Alick’s death in 1961, he returned to the National Botanic Gardens, where he spent the last of his years.

Théodore Année

Théodore Année, a wealthy, retired French diplomatic consul in South America, returned to France in the 1840’s and settled in Rue des Réservoirs, Passy, Paris, where he devoted himself to the culture of tropical plants from South America, having brought back with him the taste for plants with beautiful foliage, especially the Canna genus.

Rue des Réservoirs, Paris in 1906

At that time in Europe, Canna species were confined to botanical gardens, cultivated in greenhouses, and their custodians hardly dared to expose them to the open air, because of their tropical and sub-tropical origins.

Canna indica
Canna glauca

It was in 1846, that Année, who had brought back from South America a collection of Canna species, trialed a solid mass of Canna in open ground. The two species which he trialed were Canna indica var, and C. glauca, (aka C. nepalansis). The manner in which they flourished under the northern temperate climate of Passy exceeded his expectations. They flowered abundantly, which allowed him to try the first artificial insemination made on the Canna genus. He applied pollen from C. glauca on to C. indica; and it is the offspring of this crossing that first flowered for Année in 1848. The resulting F1 hybrid was called CannaAnnei’.

Monsieur Année then spent the next six years bulking-up the new hybrid until he was ready to introduce it to an amazed Parisian public. The popularity of the plant was such that it was stated that 20,000 tufts of CannaAnnei’ were used in displays in Paris in 1861.


Monsieur Année was rapidly joined by many other enthusiasts and professional horticulturists as Canna hybrids enjoyed rapid popularity in France, and later the rest of Europe and North America. Amongst the professionals was the rose breeder Monsieur Pierre-Antoine-Marie Crozy of Avoux & Crozy, La Guillotière, Lyon, France, who first started hybridizing Cannas in 1862, and who went on to become the greatest of all Canna hybridists.

Monsieur Chaté, the author of Le Canna, stated of Année that he was, “A happy, skilful hybridiser, he operated on a great scale and thus became the creator of all the most beautiful varieties of the floral trade.

CannaPrémices de Nice

All the amateur gardeners and horticulturists who occupied themselves with foliage plants visited his garden, which he filled up each year with seedlings of Canna. We [ed. the nursery company of Chaté et fils] owe him the majority of our successes. It is thanks to his councils and his friendship that we delivered to the trade so great a number of Canna innovations, and which enabled us to write this work.”

Monsieur Année went on to spend the next 20 years creating many more cultivars, several of which have lived on, until retiring to Nice in Southern France in 1866. Fittingly, his last Canna cultivar was named CannaPrémices de Nice’.