Cassidy Family - Robert I. Cassidy and his Flowers

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY
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This will introduce Robert Irvin Cassidy, the 27-year-old scion of an old Albany family who earns his living doing things with perennial plants which other people have been unable to do. He is a top example of a young man who is making his hobby his business. Even in his early childhood in Europe, Robert had a garden. And when he was attending the tony Tome Boarding School at Port Deposit, Md., he saved his quarter-a-week allowance so he could buy $4 delphinium bulbs.

It’s sort of grubby work for a young man who once attended exclusive European schools and even had his own tutors but Cassidy loves it. In this and the next two pictures, you see him performing an operation which requires no small skill – the division of a dwarf doronicum (doronicum clusii). But to understand the significance of the operation, you should know several other things.

Cassidy is a specialist in perennials because he has succeeded in doing what many other growers failed to do – make the live through the winter in this climate. In part, he says that is due to the sheltered location of his farm in the Helderbergs, adjacent to Cassidy Castle, which was built some 40 years ago by his naval officer-artist father who now lives in France. Making his doronicum, his painted daisies, blue English primroses, pink violets and other perennials live through the winter outside assures him they are strong plants – ready to bloom the next spring.

It is possible to grow dwarf doronicum and other perennials from seed for each spring. But that ha s disadvantage. The plants do not grow “true” in color and size – which is important in a beautiful laid-out garden. By asexual propagation, though the plants can be made to produce “true.” In Picture 2, Cassidy is washing the earth away from the roots of a dwarf doronicum. Picture 3. He cuts it a piece of stem and a piece of root to each. Picture 4. These pieces will be divided in turn. Tweny or more “True” plants will grow from the bits next spring-each about 20 inches high with yellow, daisy-like blossoms the size of a half dollar.

Source unknown, about 1937.