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Antique Plants have a character that modern hybrids seldom equal. The exquisite streaked and flamed tulips of the seventeenth century bring a charm to the cottage garden that is not found in their modern equivalents, and a medieval apple such as Court Plat Pendu has far more resonance in the kitchen garden, and on the table, that the bland fruits of today.In this sumptuous book, antique plants expert David Stuart selects the very best varieties for the contemporary garden, including only species introduced from the wild or varieties that were bred over one hundred years ago. He suggests annuals and perennials for the cottage garden, wooldand bulbs and wild flowers for the meadow; climbers and shrub roses for the rose garden and plants that can be clipped or trained into topiaries, knots and parterres.
Each chapter is a stunning visual catalogue of antique varieties, accompanied by the fascinating history behind them. Alongside the great medieval plantsmen, and Victorian explores and collectors, can be found the endearing stories of the enthusiasts of the Wakefield Tulip Society and the otherwise forgotten 'Mistress Tuggy', a seventeenth century auricula breeder. There are imaginative ideas for combining the plants with other antique varieties, and special case studies illustrate how they can be used in today's gardens. Practical help is given in the form of cultivation notes and a list of specialist suppliers.
Sumptuously illustrated and engagingly written, this book captures the unique appeal of antique plants and provides all the ideas and expertise you will need to grow them in your garden.
CHRISTMAS ROSE, HELLEBORE
There are twenty species of hellebore in cultivation in Europe and Asia, though some are rare. The oldest garden species are Helleborus niger (the Christmas rose) and H. foetidus (the stinking hellebore), native in all Western European woodlands. Though it may have had medicinal uses, the hellebore was a greatly admired garden plant in the seventeenth century, but seems to have dropped out of use until the late nineteenth. Helleborus niger, on the other hand, has been used by mankind since neolithic times, and probably as a garden plant since Roman ones. Prehistoric burials sometimes contain seed and capsules, but it may have been used as an arrow poison (it was still used as such by the Gauls) or for religious, medical or magic purposes. The plant was a cure for madness, melancholy and hypochondria well into the seventeenth century, and was planted by cottage doors as a protection from spells into modern times. The seventeenth century garden writer John Parkinson thought that the 'flowers have the most beautiful aspect, and the time of his flowering most rare, that is, in the deeps of Winter about Christmas, when no other can be seen upon the ground.' They all a like shade, so plant them with other shade lovers such as sweet violets and pulmonarias, and add contrasting foliage from Sanguinaria.
Of the twenty species of daylily from Asia, only two are antique garden plants. One is heavily perfumed and was once called 'yellow tuberose'; the other is an ancient Chinese garden and culinary plant called 'the flower of forgetfulness'. The first is Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, which reached Europe in Roman times and America in the eighteenth century. Flowering early in the season and with narrow, floppy foliage, it makes a good plant beside garden steps or by a seating area. It is also grown in pots for the conservatory. The other species is H. fulva. The first form may have reached Europe in the 1400s and had brown-red flowers, though ones with red throats and one in pure yellow began to appear in the seventeenth century. The old form is now called 'Europa'. Doubles and bicoloured flowers are all late nineteenth century, though 'Kwanso' types are old orientals. Several sorts were common in American gardens by 1890, and both there and in Europe daylily breeding began in the 1890s. Try pale yellow ones with bloodroots, ferns and aquilegias, with peonies behind.
For the visuals, you'll just have to buy the book! There are also some at the Conran Octopus website. The book is out in paperback with a gorgeous new cover.
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