George Hollis (June 23, 1839 Randolph, Mass. - April 20, 1911 South Weymouth, Mass.)
[From A Manual on the Cultivation and Propagation of Peonies
, by C. S. Harrison (ed.), 1907, pp. 10-11:] "There is a fascination about the raising of peonies from seed, which does not attend the raising of common plants, for the reason that it is a process born of a long enduring enthusiasm; for to be a seedling producer requires patience and a belief in the final success of your work.
"You must learn to 'labor and to wait,' for the seed do not generally come until the second year. I suppose they are giving Nature time to fulfill her duty. They should be planted as soon as ripe, and the second spring the tiny shoots will appear. The little plant is only about four inches high, but it is an evidence of progress.
"See that the weeds do not choke them. Water them if the ground gets very dry, cultivate them thoroughly, and don't lose your enthusiasm, for the end is not yet. Take good care of them for three or four years, when the strongest ones and the single ones will be the first to open. They are all beautiful, but there are different degrees of beauty. The large, choice ones will come in the rear, anywhere from four to ten years.
"But if you are an enthusiast you will plant seeds every year and will constantly have plants in all stages of growth. Beauty's Mask took the longest time to develop of any of my raising, while Welcome Guest was the first to win recognition. Then they have different degrees of height. I like the tall, robust and imposing ones like George Washington—not the dwarf growth of many. Then the style and size of bloom must be taken into consideration. This season, 1906, the judges granted me a certificate of merit on Loveliness and Julia Ward Howe, and I have many others waiting to be approved.
Peony manual n
"Then the color must be clear and decided. Lady White is a tine one. Bunker Hill and John Hancock are very desirable red ones, while Lucy E. Hollis and Twentieth Century are pink. And what shall I say of Goliath and Maud L. Richardson, that have already received certificates.-' So you see that seedling raisers are not without hope of reward. So keep on with the good work and you will surely meet with success.
"Great care is necessary in selecting seeds if you wish for the best results. Those saved from full double ones, pollenated with others nearly as double, will give fewer seeds, but better results, and that is what you are working for. There will occasionally be one of Japanese form, one of those strange flowers blazing like a mid-day sun among the green foliage, waiting for us to do it homage. Two of these appeared in my this year's harvest of bloom, Flashlight and Bobbie Bee. And thus will the procession pass, while wonder, praise and glory will fill the beholder."
"Geo, Hollis, South Weymouth, Mass."
[From Catalog 1907 Peony Gardens of George Hollis
:] In my gardens are found specimens of the following list of Peonies, and I am constantly adding to it by purchase and new varieties from seed. I have received numerous Honorable Mentions and several First Class Certificates of Merit
by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. I ALSO RECEIVED THE KELWAY BRONZE MEDAL for eighteen varieties which were of my originating. Also the FIRST PRIZE OF THE NATIONAL PEONY SOCIETY held in Boston 1906, and I have received three Honorable Mentions this season. My seedlings are numbered by the thousand, in an stages of development from the tiny seedling to the blooming size, and as they come into bloom something new that is meritorious is presenting itself each season which I intend to introduce as soon as possible.
[From Catalog 1908 Peony Gardens of George Hollis
:] I have about 100 Named Varieties of my seedlings which I would like to sell in a lot. Included in the lot are those which have received a First Class Certificate of Merit from the Massachussets Horticultural Society and those of Honorable Mention from the same society. Of some of the varieties I have twenty or more roots of a kind while of others from three to five. I would like to sell the lot at a bargain price to some Nursery Co. or some individual. Many of the varieties have never been catalogued.
Get something that your neighbors haven’t got ! Get something that is choice!
Who buys? Who is the man? Correspondence solicited.
[From The Book of the Peony
by Alice Harding, 1917, p. 61:] George Hollis, of South Weymouth, Massachusetts, during the "nineties" originated about one hundred new varieties. All of his productions are very scarce and many high-priced at the present time.