Category Archives: Horticulture History

The history of a plant or plants.


Ken Wilson

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 corresponding with Charles Darwin as his fascination with how more precisely plants passed on certain traits 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 the 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 the susceptibility of first-generation and second-generation plants to disease and their resistance to their American counterparts added to their lineage. 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 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, currants and apples. His death was in 1893 but his works live on in one variety 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.



This entry was posted in Horticulture HistoryOld and True VarietiesVegetables and tagged Charles DarwinMendelpeasStrawberries on November 8, 2019, by Ken WilsonEdit



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

Welcome to the Gardening Whisperer

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God has given this earth a vast diversity of plant life; this is to fit the many niches all over the world. As man has traveled he has taken plants with him and to serve his needs. These plants were for food, comfort and some were to enhance and beautify his home, while some just planned interesting. Subsequently, early man started the process of making plants better. This tinkering with the genetics has been one of many fascinations of an early man finding an ear of better corn or a more attractive plant. In early 1900 every seed and nursery catalog had its list of new plants. Now with modern marketing, it has given rise to the mass numbers of new plants to decide on each year. I estimate this number to be about 1,000 to 2,000 per year. This number could be higher.
The push to market and success of any one of these plants is at best minimal. There is only so much space at any given retail outlet and a short time to make these selections. I hope I can help to find the underdog plants that are pushed back by mass marketing, not that mass-market plants are bad but they are pushed by more dollars.
We will look at the new varieties, the old and true varieties, the underused varieties, some that have come and gone. The histories of plants and horticultural tips that will help grow plants to their best. Talk to the people that bring us these plants, the breeders, and marketers and what moved them to give us another plant to decide on. Another interest is what specifics make a person decided on buying any given plant. We will delve into the edible plants and what is obtainable and why people chose to grow and eat a particular plants and where these plants were native.
This is a lot of territories to cover and there is the weather, the major factor in what determines if a plant will live or die. When your passion is planting it is a pleasure to converse on these subjects. I hope I have challenged you enough to follow me on this new venture.
Oh did I mention we will also look at some of the plants of the Bible!

This entry was posted in Horticulture HistoryPlant History on March 22, 2014, by adminEdit