April 8, 2019 By Viona Cathryn In Garden Plants
One fact which soon dawns on the apprentice gardener when working around the borders and into the needs of the plants growing there, is how very few of them are native to these islands.
Where do they come from and how did they get here?
Many well established, familiar even to non-gardeners since early childhood obviously do grow wild somewhere. The most surprising aspect of all is that plants from so many countries with climates and soils so completely different from ours can be successfully grown here without undue effort.
To follow the route taken by Masson in South Africa or Douglas through Redwood country in California, or even Farrer amongst the Dolomites, reveals just some idea of the difficulties they must have surmounted.
Modern transport shortens the perspective. We can reach in hours locations which took those early plant hunter explorers months or even years. What is certain is that considerable sums of money were gambled on sending expeditions to remote, near inaccessible, unexplored regions in search of new, hitherto unknown plants to satisfy the demands of an ever growing market.
That some of the plants have been changed out of all recognition by selective breeding at the hands of hybridists may not be quite so obvious. Any relationship between the dahlia growing wild alongside a grass-grown track in Mexico and the enormous, garishly colored soup-plate-sized flowers exhibited at shows all over this country in autumn would be hard to see just by merely looking.
Surprisingly enough, according to report, it was only in the eighteenth century that the sexual nature of flowers was and the process of plant procreation fully understood. Plant hybridisation then is not one of the ancient arts.
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