French Gardening history

Jim McKenney
Wed, 25 Jan 2012 08:18:28 PST
Especially at the end of the nineteenth century French hybridists led the way with herbaceous peonies, tree peonies (the first hybrid yellow-flowered tree peony was of French origin), roses (the first bright, unfading hybrid yellow garden roses were of French origin), mock oranges, lilacs, pears, gladiolus, bearded irises, clematis - the list could go on and on.  It was a glorious tradition, and should the French again take up the fad of collecting plants of historic interest, they have their work cut out for them! 

And on a related note, at an exhibit at the Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C. last weekend, I saw what appeared to be single-flowered yellow tree peonies on a Japanese screen said to date from the early  Edo period. If that's what they were, then it suggests that either the artist copied the flowers from another work or that yellow flowered tree peonies were in cultivation in Japan between  three and four hundred years ago. 

Jim McKenney

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