I recently started reflecting on where plants in our garden are originally from, because people often ask me the same question about myself. It occurred to me that so many of our flowers, fruits, veggies and herbs are from other countries. I thought it might be interesting to take a tour of the world from the comfort of our home in New Zealand and explore some of them. I like to keep my blogs brief and easy to read, so it makes sense to cover this topic in a series of posts. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. The garden has grown so much over the past decade and encompasses so many different flowers and edibles that it is impossible to cover everything. I have had to cherry pick a few countries and favourites for the purpose of these posts.
In this post, I will focus on some of our favourite flowers which either come from or are commonly associated with Europe.
I have always associated Le Muguet (Lily of the Valley) with France, which is given as a gift to loved ones on the 1st of May, a public holiday. That is what I learnt at school when I studied French (a unit was devoted to the culture). I didn’t realise that the Iris also has national significance in France, despite living there for four years in my 20s.
I have always associated daffodils with England, after studying the poem I wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth at school.
While not originally from there, tulips come to mind when I think of the Netherlands (as well as windmills, gouda cheese, clogs, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and the ICJ). Ironically I visited Amsterdam while Keukenhof was open but I didn’t think of going out there as I had no interest in gardening whatsoever back then.
David Austin roses
I am a huge fan of David Austin, who was English and is the best and most influential rose breeder of all time in my opinion. We have the following Austin rose varieties in our garden. All of them are 80/90cm standard roses, as with all of the roses in our garden.
I have just been advised that Wairere is finally able to supply The Lady Gardener, which I requested and has been on back order for many years due to supply issues. I am very excited that I will be adding this rose to the garden soon and hope to share a photo on social media when it flowers.
One of my cousins lives in Telford, which isn’t that far away from David Austin’s gardens in Shropshire. I visited her once, but it never occurred to me to go there. I also had the opportunity to go the Chelsea Flower Show because I lived in London for eighteen months but I didn’t do that either. One year, I was actually in that area while it was on, having lunch at a friend’s house. The streets were packed with cars and she said “all that fuss over a flower show!”. We both laughed. While it might have been funny at the time, it has come back to haunt me now, especially since I steered the garden in the direction of flower farming in recent years and enjoy creating mass displays of flowers like you sometimes see in public gardens.