Re: [IGSROBIN] Angel history
The "angel" group gets its name from 'Angeline' which was the most prominent
hybrid of the Pelargonium crispum and regal heritage of the 1820s. These
early angels are presumed to be extinct, and the modern day "angels" are not
descended from them.
The modern day "angels" are mainly descended from the work of Arthur Langley-
Smith who was a schoolteacher from Shirley, England. In 1908 he crossed a
regal named 'The Shah' with P. crispum and then worked with seedlings for
several generations. Unfortunately, if he kept records, they were lost, so
what information we have today has been gleaned from other sources. He
created 12 named cultivars that we are aware of, of which 'Catford Belle',
'Mrs. Dumbrill', 'Mrs. GH Smith', 'Rose Bengal', 'Shirley Ash', 'Solferino',
and 'Spring Park' are still on the market. You will find 'Mrs. GH Smith' also
listed as 'Mrs. HG Smith". I haven't been able to find anything conclusive as
to which is correct.
In the 1870s 'Madame Layal' appeared in France and is still widely popular
today. It is what is known as the pansy face pelargonium and is often used in
hybridizing angels. There are many cultivars with 'Madame Layal' in their
lineage, some of which have the distinctive pansy faces, and some of which
resemble the Langley-Smith blooms.
You will hear arguments for and against putting angels and pansy face
pelargoniums into one category. They base them on whether or not crispum is
in their heritage, if the leaves are scented, the shape of the bloom, the size
and shape of the leaf, plant habit, etc. To further muddy the waters, some of
the newer angel releases are angels crossed to various species. People tend
to either be a "lumper" and put all of these plants into one big category of
"angels and pansy face pelargoniums" or they are "splitters" who divide the
big category into many smaller categories such as the pansy face, crispum
descended angels, species derived angels, etc, etc. Since very few of the
hybridizers have kept really good records, or if they have, they haven't made
them public, I am a lumper, in the interest of my sanity.
If you would like to read up on the angels, I would suggest you contact the
International Geranium Society and purchase two back issues of Geraniums
Around the World.
Robin Parer wrote two articles in the Spring, 1994 volume: (1) "A Compendium
of Angel and Pansy Face Pelargoniums" which sets forth an alphabetical listing
of the known cultivars at that time with a description, and (2) More on Angel
and Pansy Face Pelargoniums, which talks about the history. Color photos in
that issue include 'Kettlebaston' on the cover, a photo of the collection of
mature angel plants on Robin's deck, 'Deerwood Angel Eyes' , and 'Madame
In the Spring, 1989, issue, Carol Roller wrote "The Angels" which goes into
history and descriptions and trying to classify them. No color photos of
angels in that issue.
The back issues are $3 ($6 for the two) and the price includes postage. Write
a check or money order payable to IGS. Mail back issue orders to IGS, PO Box
3455, Vista, CA 92085-3455. Mention in your request that you got the
information from the Robin.
If you have any other questions, these little guys are my main interest, and I
would be pleased to assist.