Fifth Avenue Flowers
On this day in 1913, the horticulturist Charles Totty received a medal from the New York Horticultural Society for developing a new rose called "Shell Pink Shawyer."
Totty immigrated to the United States from England. He was known as CH to his friends
Totty was a shrewd businessman. On April Fools’ Day 1903, he bought a greenhouse business in Madison, New Jersey. Then he opened up a florist shop Called Totty's flowers on Fifth Avenue in New York. Totty was responsible for establishing the First International Flower Show in New York City. Totty himself won thousands of awards at American flower shows, and he was credited with introducing the chrysanthemum to America.
Totty's success was owed in part to the support of his wife and their daughter Helen.
In 1930, at the beginning of the great depression, Totty spoke to a group of New England flower growers. He encouraged growers to “pull up your belts and go to it," continuing to grow their businesses during the depression. Totty said that,
"it was up to the growers to open up new avenues for their products and that publicity stunts that gave away flowers cheapened [the industry]. He cautioned that no other trade gave away anything of value so why should florists?"
In 2017, the century-old Shakespeare-themed garden at the College of Saint Elizabeth was in desperate need of a makeover. In researching the history of the garden, the school discovered that it had been visited by Charles Totty, who heaped praise on the garden's design saying:
"No Shakespeare garden in the world, not even the one at Avon, the birthplace of the poet, quite reaches the beauty and perfection of ... St. Elizabeth’s.”