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Every Gardener Still Wants the Latest Plant

Another one of my favorite public gardens is Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  It is also a trial garden.

Every summer you can see the newest annuals on display.

Late August when I visited I found a new Rudbeckia and took this photo.  I thought it would be a nice adddition to my garden next summer.

Gardeners like to discover the newest plants.  That theme became, in fact, a marketing strategy for the nineteenth century seed companies and nurseries.  In their catalogs they sold us the newest plants which they called ‘novelties.’

A new rudbeckia
A new Rudbeckia called ‘Prairie Sun’  in the trial garden this summer at Prescott Park in  Portsmouth, NH.

In 1882 the Hoopes Company from West Chester, Pennsylvania boasted in its catalog that it offered the latest plant varieties: “It is with unusual pleasure that we call attention to our choice list of new and rare plants for the season of 1882, in the belief that we have never before offered to our customers so many really valuable novelties as are contained in the present edition.  Few of our patrons can form any idea of the heavy expense we annually incur in obtaining these new plants. Not only are all the choicest novelties imported direct from leading florists of England, France and Germany, but in our own country, every new plant giving promise of merit is at once procured and tested.

“We are thus enabled to offer our customers at the earliest possible date all the recent introductions that we believe will lend an additional charm to their gardens and homes; and in this we believe our efforts have been amply rewarded by the many encomiums heaped upon us by friends all over the country.”

The company sold these new plants because the customer wanted them.  Yet at the same time the seed trade told the gardener he or she needed these plants.  The customer learned from the seed company, which were the important, new plants as well as the importance of adding them to one’s plant collection.

Things haven’t changed much today. We still want the latest plant for the garden.

Prescott Park grows the newest flower varieties so gardeners can consider them for next summer’s planting.  No surprise that so many people visit the Park every summer.


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