I continue to read the great book English Garden Eccentrics. The main idea is that…
We all know that the story of tulips engraves forever in our memory the idea that the power of money can influence what we plant. At that time, the 1630s, people would pay anything for that most precious tulip.
It was tulipmania time.
Today it is often the nursery that offers us the newest and the latest plant sensation.
The early nineteenth century introduced the Veitch nurseries to England. In Veitch we see an example of how successful commercial nurseries can become.
The Veitch family ran their nurseries for decades, even hiring plant collectors to travel the world for seed to produce ever newer and more deisrable plant varieties.
Mary and John Gribbin in their book Flower Hunters mention William Lobb (1809-1864) and Thomas Lobb (1817-1894). They were a pair of brothers deeply interested in plants.
The Gribbens write that Thomas Lobb and his brother William would become the plant collectors that took the success of the Veitch nurseries to new heights.
One of the plants that the Lobbs brought back to England was the Poker Plant, kniphofia. [below]
Today we buy mostly hybrid varieties of the poker plant. There are about 90 such plants.
The nursery owner accepts the plants of growers who often may test a particular plant for years to make sure it is fit for the garden market.
We benefit from that.
But, truthfully, do we really need a hundred varieties of coneflower, a native plant favorite?