Verbena essential Victorian flower.
What is good about annuals is that they continue to bloom until the Fall, or even til the first frost.
Rochester, New York seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) defined them as “those plants that live but one season.”
In the nineteenth century when colorful flowers became an essential in every garden, the verbena rose to become an important addition to the garden. Vick called it “one of the most showy and valuable plants of the garden.”
English horticulturist David Stuart wrote in his book The Plants that Shaped our Gardens, “The verbena was acknowledged, even by contemporaries, as central to the whole bedding movement.”
Bedding meant a design on the lawn, often a diamond, a circle, or a half-moon. Flowers and plants with colorful leaves made up the design. Weekly trimming and weeding followed for the season.
Vick, in an article called “Bedding Plants” wrote in his magazine Vick’s Illustrated Monthly in November, 1881: “The term, bedding plants, has long been in use, and is applied to all those tender plants that, preserved through the winter under glass, are there propagated and raised, and finally planted in beds in the spring to serve for the decoration of the garden for one season. Such plants are Geraniums, Heliotropes, Verbenas, Lantanas, and a multitude of other flowering plants.”
Today verbenas continue to be an important summer flower for the garden.
The plant grower Proven Winners offers a hybrid variety of verbena called dark blue superbena. [below]
Though today we may not include carpet bedding in the landscape because of its high maintenance, in Victorian times bedding always depended on a well-trimmed lawn.
Vick offered a bit of caution to his readers about the lawn. He wrote,”This style of gardening [bedding] is admissible only with grounds kept in elegant condition; otherwise it would be like jewels in a swine’s snout.”
Even though we do not cultivate carpet bedding, we can still enjoy the Victorian summer flower called the verbena.