Monday, January 31, 2005

Biography on Mrs Mary Elisa Blacklock

Mrs. Mary Elisa Blacklock

Rowancroft Gardens in Meadowvale, Ontario, Canada

There are three others by Blacklock. Chalice (also used by Saunders) Joyce (also used by Auten) Late Loveliness Miss Mary Eliza Blacklock owned and operated Rowancroft Gardens in Meadowvale, Ontario, Canada.

Rowancroft Gardens was established in 1914 in Meadowvale, Ontario, by Miss Mary Eliza Blacklock. She was born in 1860 in Hastings, Ontario and went to school in Ottawa at the Convent School of the Sacred Heart. Her family moved to Toronto when she was a young woman and she began to grow plants in the garden as a pleasant way to make money for the building fund of Ste. Anne's Anglican Church. Her father died in 1910 and she then visited England and France, visiting many of the famous

nurseries of the day, in particular that of Victor Lemoine. The visit to Lemoine probably stimulated her interest in peonies and lilacs and she went on to breed and introduce some of each, as well as other plant groups too. On her return from Europe she purchased 5 acres of land in Meadowvale and Rowancroft Gardens was born.

The first catalogue was issued in 1917, and this also marks the arrival of Miss Minerva Castle. I was told by Keith Squires of Squires Country Garden that Miss Castle once told him that she was picked up by horse and buggy at the Meadowvale train station in the spring of 1917 to work at Rowancroft, and she never left. I have seen Miss Castle's working copy of the catalogue, and a few pages is her note that she arrived in that year.

It wasn't until the fifth catalogue, issued in 1929, that Blacklock begins to list her own peony originations. The last of them were introduced in 1946. In total she introduced 15 peonies. The list totals 18 but two were renamed after the first year, and a third was renamed to correct a spelling error. Rowancroft's catalogue also listed introductions of other Canadian peony breeders.

Blacklock died at Rowancroft in 1956 at age 96. Miss Castle continued the nursery for a number of years. Rowancroft catalogues were never dated, though Miss Castle used to date most of her copies. The last catalogue probably came out in 1966 or 1967. Miss Castle died January 1, 1976 in her 85th year. (Information from Reiner Jakubowski on canpeony on Jan. 30 2005)

Breedings & Introductions

Angela (Blacklock) l

Aroha (Blacklock) l

Audrey (Blacklock) l

Chalice (Blacklock) l

Fidelity (Blacklock)l

Grace Adams (Blacklock) l

Joyce (Blacklock) l

Late Loveliness (Blacklock) l

Lizbeth (Blacklock) l

Peep-O-Day (Blacklock) l

Polly Prim (Blacklock 1944) l

Single Bliss (Blacklock) l

W E Macoun ('William T. Macoun') (Blacklock) l

William T Macoun (Blacklock) l

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