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Victorians Loved Palms and Ferns

Here is the Kew Palm House. A beautiful site that speaks to the Victorian fascination with palms and ferns.

I just finished reading a wonderful chapter on nineteenth century horticulture in an old book called One Hundred Years of American Commerce .

The book, published in 1895, covers the years 1795 to 1895.

The author of a chapter called American Horticulture is Alfred Henderson, son of Peter Henderson, one of America’s pioneers in the garden industry.

What caught my attention was the importance of palms and ferns to gardeners.

Henderson writes, “Of the many remarkable developments in commercial floriculture during the past ten years…is the expansion of the trade in decorative plants.”

The plants were palms and ferns.

Then I came across a wonderful painting of a Palm House from 1833.

The artist Karl Blechen painted this Interior of the Palm House at Potsdam in oil on canvas.[below]   

Potsdam is the capital and largest city of the German state of Brandenburg. It directly borders the German capital, Berlin.

In the Palm House near Potsdam by Karl Blechen – 1833

Henderson says, “The use of palms and decorative plants had been general in Europe for many years.

“Even now the American grower draws heavily on Europe for his supplies.”

Today we take such indoor plants for granted, even with the renewed interest in such plants.

There was a time however when people saw them as novelties.

Henderson agrees.

He says, “It may be safely stated that ten years ago it was a rarity to see a group of palms in the average florist’s establishment.

“And equally rare was the sight of a palm in the windows of dwelling-houses.”

But then, as often happens in gardening, they became the rage, sought after by many to include in their plant collection.

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