Starring amateur hybridizers

Green thumbs up

to "amateur" horticulturists' contributions to gardening. When it comes to developing great new plants, some efforts are never undertaken on a commercial basis. It can take a lifetime to select the right parents, hybridize, grow seedlings on to maturity, choose the best and then hybridize some more. Such projects may be too expensive for many nurseries to take on, even if the right sponsors can be "sold" on a plant's potential.

In addition, the effort calls for continuity of "eye" and feel for the plants, talents that don't transfer well through corporate personnel changes. So here's to those with a simple passion to tweak plants who have moved us all forward for centuries and continue to do so.

 

Sterling example

In the 1950's Kathleen Meserve of St. James on Long Island, New York took inspiration from a garden club lecture to develop a better Christmas holly. She crossed English holly (Ilex aquifolium) with a very hardy groundcover holly from Japan (I. rugosa) to create hybrids with the look of English holly and the hardiness of the Japanese. She received a horticultural award of merit and we tip our hats to this "amateur" every time we admire her work in I. x meserveae 'Blue Princess', 'Blue Prince', 'Blue Angel', etc. 

Related links

What to do with gift holly

What's Up 169: Hardening holly and bottom heat