Author Topic: Collecting Antique Plants. The History and Culture of the Old Florists' Flowers  (Read 6072 times)

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Offline greenfinger

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In this book Roy Genders compares old fashioned flowers with antique furniture, china, glass or early English water colours.
"They are collecors' plants which are eagerly sought by those who love the quaint old flowers and do not wish to see them disappear, though they have become as difficulr to find as pieces of early Wedgwood (...) They are not only appreciated for their beauty but also for their scarcity value. They are plants steeped in the history of these islands and some of them were taken up by those who worked at home in the early days of the industrial revolution when these lovely flowers brought interest and beauty into the home."
By these "early days" he means the years before 1850, when the workers still worked at home and were their own boss.
"The old plants have not become scarce because they were in any way difficult to manage or because of tender constitution. That many have survived for the last four hundred years, clearly shows them to be almost indestructible but they are plants which require care in their culture, neither do they lend themselves to modern methods of mass production. They have survived in cottage gardens because of the loving care bestowed upon them by several generations of plant lovers."

Ref.: Pelham Books Ltd., London, 1971.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2008, 04:23:21 PM by greenfinger »

Offline greenfinger

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George, in this book is a little paragraph about your Sweet Rocket.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2008, 04:46:12 PM by greenfinger »

Online ideasguy

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Thats the one, André, and a very good account of the scent. That plant really does have a lovely fragrance, and better still, it fills the air. You wont miss it as you walk past!
I find if it is given space it forms a bushy shape. In my garden they grow 3ft and more. Once you have them in your garden, they are there for life,it seems. I inherited mine in this garden from my dad's time, so they've seeded around the garden for over 20 years now.
Any more nice ones to tell us about from the book?

Offline greenfinger

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Some of my own "Old Florists' Flowers". Polyanthus and Auriculas are two species of the Primulas. Highly recommandable!
« Last Edit: April 13, 2008, 04:10:53 PM by greenfinger »

Online ideasguy

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Nice photos, Andre. One for the Master Database there (with a "name")
I love those flowers, as you know.

NightHawk

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They both look lovely.

I can never remember which are primroses and which are polyanthus.  ::)

Up untiI recently I only had two varieties of primulas, a blue variety and a cream colur with a light yellow centre variety. Now I have another two varieties of a deep orange and 2 that are a bright yellow and 2 that are a sort of wishy washy red.

They are all about due to be lifted and divided I am just waiting for them to stop flowering so nicely. I should get a large number to be added to the front garden.

Kathy :-*

Online ideasguy

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In my reckoniong, Primroses are as the name implies, prim and demure. Flowers are modest, but absolutely beautiful.
Polyanthus are more brash - larger flowers, almost covering the foliage in entirity -  a blaze of colour.

I dont know if thats "in general". What do you folk think?

Personally, I prefer the Primroses.

Offline greenfinger

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The already quoted Roy Genders has written a lot about the different Primulas.
The history of the auriculas is a very interesting one: in the 16th century Flemish (!) weavers fled from the Southern Netherlands during the religion wars and they brought their plants with them. Their leisure time and facilities were limited and caring for these "Florists' Plants" was en vogue till the midst of the 19th century. The Industrial Revolution was on cruise speed and the weavers were no longer their own bosses: factory work instead of homework. The plants demanding a lot of observation and attention disappeared. Only a few specialists continued. Now a lot of these plants return back from the UK to Flanders.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 07:05:56 PM by greenfinger »

NightHawk

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I recently watched a tv program from the 80's early 90's called The Victorian Flower Garden and they talked about Auriculas and how during Victorian times they were very very popular and were usually displayed on a tiered shelf.

So its not hard to imagine that the embroiderers of the past were keen to use the plants and flowers of the time.

It is odd how plants can be in and out of fashion the way they are.

Personally I prefer the more delicate primulas. I think I agree with the Victorians that Auriculas need to be displayed by themselves to be fully appreciated.

Kathy :-*

« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 05:34:56 PM by Kathy & Laurie »

Offline greenfinger

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It seems there are still two genuine Auricula Theatres in Great Britain.
Apart from this I found the following website: http://dereksauriculas.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/index.html
By the way: the presentator of that program about the victorian flower garden didn't he pass away last year? I think I read about it in "The Garden" of the RHS.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 05:29:36 PM by greenfinger »

NightHawk

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The presenter of the program was Peter Thoday. I just did a google search and although I can't find much about him except references to The Victorian Garden series he did, there is no mention that he has died.

Harry Dodson however, the gardener, died in July 05 aged 85.

Harry was a member of the RHS and the obituary said he died at Chilton Foliat

Here's the link for the obituary if you want to go and read it:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/harry-dodson-507520.html


Kathy :-*
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 06:03:50 PM by Kathy & Laurie »

Offline greenfinger

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Harry Dodson was indeed the gardener I meant.

Offline Trevor Ellis

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Harry Dodson was indeed the gardener I meant.

What a wonderful character Harry Dodson was and a huge fount of knowledge for both flower and vegetable growing. An interesting little book I have is called 'The Victorian Kitchen Garden Companion' by Harry Dodson & Jennifer Davies. It's a month by month account with lots of anecdotes from Victorian publications, observations by Harry, lots of Victorian illustrations and photographs of some of the old gardeners etc, etc. It's a little gem especially for those who appreciate/d Harry Dodson. First published in 1988 by BBC Books, ISBN 0 56320710 8. I found my copy on ebay if my memory is correct. I think that it was published to accompany 'Harry Dodson's Practical Kitchen Garden' (ISBN 0 563 36357 6) and of course the videos on both the 'Victorian Flower Garden' and 'Victorian Kitchen Garden'.
Every time I open these books, I can hear Harry's voice. Wonderful.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2009, 12:49:14 PM by Trevor Ellis »