Our native sunflower is one of my favorite flowers. It comprises the genus Helianthus, which…
Victorians believed that colorful flowers needed to fill the garden all summer.
In his book The Garden in Victorian Literature Michael Waters writes, “The massing of plants in showy color schemes grew rapidly in popularity.”
Waters provides three reasons for those colorful Victorian gardens.
First, the influx of foreign plant materials during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Second, the hybridization of already available species, including dwarf varieties of older plants.
Third, the introduction of greenhouses, in which huge numbers of tender annuals could be raised for wholesale use.
Thus, Waters says, “Brillance of color became the top prerequisite of the mid-Victorian garden.”
The list of plants every garden had to have included the verbena.
The verbena, a Victorian favorite, continues among the best sellers for the garden industry.
Today the plant grower Proven Winners constantly searches for ever newer varieties of plants.
PW has introduced a beautiful, new verbena called ‘Dark Blue’.
The Rochester, New York seed merchant James Vick (1818-1882) mentioned the popular verbena in his garden magazine Vick’s Illustrated Monthly in November 1881.
He wrote, “The term, bedding plants, has long been in use, and is applied to all those tender plants that, preserved through the winter under glass, are there propagated and raised, and finally planted in beds in the spring to serve for the decoration of the garden for one season. Such plants are Geraniums, Heliotropes, Verbenas, Lantanas, and a multitude of other flowering plants.”
The Vick Company of course offered verbenas in its seed catalog. [below]
Vick won awards for his verbenas at State Fairs around the country including Michigan.
He wrote in 1880 in his garden magazine: “Among our garden flowers none is more valuable and more prized than the Verbena.”
The verbena was, however, only one of many annuals that offered colorful bloom in the Victorian flower garden whether for beds, borders, or containers.