Category Archives: Plant Varieties

A dialogue about plants.

WHAT DO STRAWBERRIES AND PEAS HAVE IN COMMON?

Ken Wilson

These two common garden varieties of plants seem to be strange equals. Yet we must look back to 1830 when a man was born in Rutland a small town in Tinwell England. He started off his professional life as a solicitor or in America he would be known as a (Lawyer). His interests turned towards horticulture or plant husbandry as it was called then. He started corresponded with Charles Darwin as his fascination on how more precisely plants passed on certain trait to their offspring. By 1858 at the age of 28 he was breeding Peas at a place called St. Mary’s Hill in Stamford. As his creations increased so did his corresponded to Charles Darwin about his outcomes. Darwin made several notations about his thoughts, and commented about them several times in his (Darwin’s Notes)

In his breeding process he used scientific process and accurately noted all parent’s attributes and how they followed through to their progeny. He first perceived a concept that later has been recognized as hybrid vigor. He watched closely to the susceptibility of first-generation and second-generation plants to dieses and their resistance their American counterparts added to their linage. He bred and back bred to gain the best traits of the American varieties into common English varieties.

He did this without the knowledge of Mendel who in Germany was secluded in a monastery and whose works would later be published. His motivation was to improve varieties not the how genetics worked as did Mendel.

He moved his operation to Bedfordhigh Street in 1872 and began breeding strawberries of which he produced several new varieties including the Royal Sovereign strawberry. He also developed the Superb and Lawton’s Fortune apples.

This gentleman and his sons and grandsons produced many varieties of peas that they sold through there store. Along with strawberries, currents and apples. His death was in 1893 but his works live on in one varieties of heirloom peas.

His name was Thomas Laxton (1830-1893), the pea is the “Laxton Pea”, the strawberry “Royal Sovereign.”

Thomas Laxton is considered the greatest pea breeder ever, and this century-old variety is his masterpiece. Try it and see why.

© KEN WILSON
WWW.gardeningwhisperer.com

2019

Hosta “Curley Fries”

Hosta Curley Fries

The Hosta of the year for 2016 is Hosta Curley Fries.  In 2008 breeder Bob Solberg introduced this magnificent Hosta.  Its curly chartreuse leaves form a diminutive mound of about 6” high and 16’ high giving itCurley Fries copy an unmistakable appearance.  It was from a seedling of Hosta Pineapple Upsidedown Cake. The best color comes from growing it in an area that has morning sun with afternoon shade. This is the most distinctive hosta to be introduced in some time with its highly ruffled narrow leaves that emerge yellow and then fade to near white. In midsummer deep purple scapes emerge on top of the plant with lavender flowers. Continue reading

DECORATION DAY

DECORATION DAY

This is my seventieth DECORATION DAY, (yes I know the name has changed) but it has always been a special day as it was the day my mother prepared flowers to decorate the graves of our ancestral history and the forgotten soldiers that had fought to make America free. From where we lived we had to trek in all four directions to visit the many cemeteries and graves this process took about a week to accomplish. I wish I could remember the stories mother told of each person that we stopped by and there location but time has eroded my mind. Continue reading

Roses

ROSES

Roses are the best know flower though out gardening and to some it is the queen of all flowers.  Roses have a past and I knew that there are several breeders in England and France however in an article by Harald Enders “A New Home FOR OLD GERMAN ROSES” ” http://media.wix.com/ugd/e6654e_42a58c08b17d606a6c8826823a2cbe7d.pdf “I found that many roses were bred in Germany and brought into commerce before 1900.  Through time and three wars many have GW Rose Redbeen lost but Harald Enders is trying to find them and bring them back into production.  Many of these could be the genetics of our modern rose. On further investigation I found that there are many rose gardens in Germany the best being Sangerhausen which began in 1896 it now has about 75,000 roses. Continue reading

Hellebores

HELLEBORES

Or

“Lenten Rose”

At the first job I had as a grower in a small green house in fall, eight (8) weeks till Christmas I was handed a box of plants to grow for Christmas, the label said it they a plant called Lenten Rose. There were little or no instructions just plant and keep cool until they bloom around Christmas. They were add to the other plants I was growing to compete with the Poinsettias that were Lenten Rose Beverywhere in the greenhouse.

This was well before the first perennial boom of the seventies (70’s) and they did well as pot plants but I pinched the remainder of those not sold. If I had only known the value and worth of these plants, I would have put them into the perennial plant section I was growing for spring.

Continue reading