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Terry, H.A.

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Peony breeder   Listing last updated on 08 Jan 2018.
Crescent, Iowa
United States
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H.A. Terry, Crescent, Iowa (1826-1909). Known as "Father Terry", he was initially the only seed merchant in the Missouri River Territory. His nursery was established in 1855. He sold fruit, nursery stock and seeds, and also developed some good plum cultivars. He lived in relative poverty, but sold his peony collection in later years for a good price. Many of his peonies were named for schoolteachers.

[From The Book of the Peony by Alice Harding, 1917, p. 59-60:] In 1858, H.A. Terry of Crescent, Iowa, one of the pioneers among peony experts of this country, obtained from William Robert Prince, who had inherited the Linnaean Botanic Garden, at Flushing, thirty varities of P. albiflora, inclusing Humei, Pottsii, Reevesii, Comte de Paris, fragrans, festiva maxima, lutetiana, edulis superba, plenissima rosea and Queen Victoria. Many of these freely produced seeds from which Terry soon had thousands of seedlings growing. He selected the best for further propagation but found that generally not five - often not one - in a thousand were worth cultivating. During a long life time - longevity and peony growing seem to go hand in hand - Terry produced over a hundred new varieties among which are a few very beautiful ones...Shortly before his death, Terry sold most of his collection for twenty-five hundred dollars.
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