I continue to read the great book English Garden Eccentrics. The main idea is that…
Every gardener feels the need to buy the latest variety of plant. That feeling is built into the gardener’s profile.
Philadelphia seedsman Thomas Meehan wrote in the 1868 issue of his magazine Gardener’s Monthly: “No matter how small the flower-garden may be, the aim should be to improve as we go, and make each season’s garden look better than the last.”
Certainly words you would expect from a seed and plant merchant.
The strange thing about that is that it works.
Every spring gardeners flock to the local garden center to check out the latest variety.
This year I had to have the newest supertunia from Proven Winners called ‘Pretty Much Picasso’.
My rationale was that its coloring of pink with green edges outshines any other petunia, and besides it’s new.
The nineteenth century seed and nursery catalogs called new plants ‘novelties’. Every catalog urged customers to be current gardeners by buying the latest plant.
The Hallock and Thorpe Company from Queens, New York, wrote in its 1885 seed catalog how the cultivation of new plants had spread throughout the country: “We are reminded of what an interest has grown during the past ten years in lilies, in roses, in geraniums, in gladioli, in carnations, and in chrysanthemums. We are not wrong when we say that the interest is more than hundred-fold increased. We point with pride to the labor we have done in those fields, to the numerous varieties that are of our origination–we may say, our children.”
We may not use the word ‘novelty’ when talking about plants, but we still like the latest from the garden center.