I include Verbenas in my summer garden and love them because they are so easy to grow, but also for their various shades of white, pink, and blue as a trailing plant.
The annual Verbena, or Verbena x hybrida, has a long history in this country. The plant is originally from South America but made it’s way to England in the early nineteenth century. Denise Wiles Adams in her book Restoring American Gardens says, “Verbena x hybrida was the result of extensive hybridization beginning ca. 1840 between four species of Verbena.”
According to the December issue of the Southern Cultivator in 1855, Philadelphia seedsman Robert Buist (1805-1880) introduced the Verbena to the United States. The date seems to be around 1839.
David Stuart wrote in his book The Garden Triumphant: A Victorian Legacy, “The Verbena had been in England since 1826.” It was only shortly after he left England to enter the seed trade in this country that Buist introduced this plant to American gardeners.
Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meechan praised Buist for his contributions to the garden. Meehan dedicated several paragraphs to Buist in his magazine Gardener’s Monthly in September 1880, shortly after Buist died.
Meehan wrote, “Few men have exercised such an influence on the floriculture of our country as Mr. R. Buist. He has not only raised and distributed plants throughout the land, but better still, he has educated and raised men of his profession who have been ornaments of society and leaders in the horticulture of our own land.”
The simple Verbena has come a long way.
Today we can grow the Proven Winners hybrid variety of the Verbena called ‘Dark Blue Superbena.’ [below]
But the Verbena found a listing in the American seed catalog only after England had grown it first.