Report of General Monthly Meeting - July 2018

Plants introduced into Britain during the Victorian era – Roger Hirons

Roger gave us a most well-informed and enthusiastic talk on ‘Victorian plants’ and brought with him examples of all the plants he talked about!

So, among others, we were able to see:
Paulownia Tomentosa(foxglove tree which has white and purple flowers)
Nothofagus Antarctica(Antarctic beech from Chile with wonderful colours in autumn)
Malus Tschnoskii(Bonfire tree from the Himalayas – flowering crab apple)
Ligustrum Rotundifolium(Japanese privet with wavy leaves)
Aralia Elata(Japanese angelica tree with white flowers)
Corylus Avellana(Red majestic)
Paeonia Lactiflora Sarah Bernhardt,(type of peony)
drus Atlantica Glauca Pendula(Blue atlas cedar with striking blue needles)
burnium rhytidophyllum(Leatherleaf with white flowers and red berries)
ex Kohneana Holly with chestnut leaf), and
Philadelphus Lemoinei (Mock Orange with white flowers)

to mention just a few of the amazing Latin names that slipped off Roger’s tongue as though he had known them all his life – which he probably had, given that he has spent thirty years working in garden centres and giving talks on plants. He was also able to tell us the dates at which they had been brought into England and to give us some secrets of Victorian gardening. He told us, for example, that muslin bags containing human hair hung on the four corners of a cherry tree are effective in keeping birds away; this was the practice before protective netting was available. He also shared with us some of the knowledge Victorian gardeners had about where (and where not!) to plant different types of trees; the types of soil they liked and which plants they liked to be close to, and distant from. It was a most instructive afternoon, and a pleasure to see Littleton Millennium Hall turned into a garden centre!

Julia Whitburn