He first entered the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, and was subsequently superintendent of the hot-houses at Chiswick. In 1842 he started for China, and during the years which followed he was constantly sending home fresh treasures. Some of the best known garden flowers we owe to him :—Anemone japonica, Dielytra (or Dicentra) spectabilis, Kerria japonica, varieties of Primus, Viburnum, Spirea and many Azaleas and Chrysanthemums, Gardenia Fortuniana, Daphne Fortuni, Berberis Fortuni, Forsythia viridissima, Weigela rosea, Jasminum nudifiorum, the white variety of Wistaria, and many other valuable plants. His greatest feat was to go to Loo Chow, disguised as a Chinaman, and there he obtained the double yellow rose, and the fan-leafed or Chusan palm, which bear his name. Since then this work of discovery has been carried on by able hands. To Sir Joseph Hooker we owe the Sikkim Rhododendrons and a large number of Himalayan plants. Lobb collected for Veitch and introduced many new things. Mr. F. C. Burbidge, especially in Borneo, has brought to light many treasures; Mr. Edward Whittall, at Smyrna, has sent many charming hardy bulbs from Asia Minor, and there are still numerous other active workers in this branch of science.
The number of roses in our gardens now is infinite, and a very large proportion has only been known in this country during this century. In addition to the old-fashioned species, the Gallica, the Damask, Sulphurea, Scotch, Austrian, Moss, Semper-virens and Musk, there are now many more species, besides endless hybrids. Most of the new species have come to us from Eastern Asia. The little Banksian Rose came from China in 1807, and smaller Fairy Rose in 1810; the Tea-scented Rose about the same time, Monthly Roses in 1789, and multiflora in 1822. Since then numerous varieties have been added, Boursault's, Noisette, Polyantha, Bourbon, and so on. In the Catalogue of the great nurseryman, Loddiges, in Hackney, in 1826, there are " no less than 1393 species and varieties of Roses," numbered as existing in their nurseries, and Lee, of Hammersmith, also had great quantities. Ever since then roses have been multiplying yearly. In 1861-2 Paul* brought out as many as sixty-two new varieties, and during the next ten years he added many more, including such favourites as Marechal Niel, Louis Van Houtte, and Paul Neyron. This profusion of new roses which is still being added to year by year, has banished many of the old ones, such as the sweet Moss Rose and Damask, which deserve a place, as well as the hybrid perpetuals and teas.
* The Rose Garden. By Wm. Paul. 9th Ed., 1888.
The Dahlia,* a native of Mexico, was first introduced in 1789 from Spain by Lady Bute, but was lost and re-introduced in 1804 by Lady Holland, and twenty years later the craze for these flowers reached its height. The Fuchsia appeared in this country within the first five-and-twenty years of this century, although named by Plumier after Fuchs about a hundred years earlier. The story is told of how Lee saw a Fuchsia plant in a window of a small house in Wapping. He was so struck with the flower that he went in and asked the old woman to whom it belonged whether she would sell it to him. She, however, at first refused to part with it, as it had been sent to her by her husband who was a sailor, but was persuaded to let him have it when he offered her eight guineas and promised to give her two of the first plants he reared. He succeeded in getting some three hundred cuttings to strike, and presented the old woman with her share, while the rest, with their graceful hanging flowers, astonished the visitors to his Nursery, and brought him in a profit of about £300.†
That which perhaps would most astonish a gardener of the fifteenth century, could he but for one moment see it, would be an orchid house. Numerous as orchids are to-day, they nearly all have been imported during the last fifty years. There are still tracts of country which have not been searched, but most of the orchid-growing portions of the globe have been ransacked, and these glorious plants packed off by thousands to this country, leaving in some cases their native habitats bare. One reads accounts of whole districts being denuded of these treasures; for instance, a certain locality, once the home of Miltonia vexillaria, was so pillaged that the woods in the vicinity " have become pretty well cleared." During one search for Odontoglossum crispum, when ten thousand plants were collected, four thousand trees were cut down to obtain them, the camp of the explorers was moved on week by week as they exhausted the plants in their neighbourhood.* The sight of this glorious wealth of flowers, which has gladdened many orchid hunters, will be denied to future generations, if the searchers are not more moderate in their demands on the virgin forests of the Old and New World.
* Named after Dahl the Swedish botanist, and quite distinct from the Dalea called after Dr. Samuel Dale (1659-1739). † N. and Q., Sept., 1894.
The first tropical orchid which flowered in this country was a specimen of Bletia verecunda, which was sent from Providence Island, one of the Bahamas, in 1731, to Peter Collinson. † In Miller's Dictionary, two or three tropical orchids are mentioned, and some were grown by him at Chelsea. He says of the Vanilla which was sent to him " from Carthagena in New Spain," that " this plant flowered in the Chelsea Garden, but wanting its proper support it lived but one year." In 1778 Dr. John Fothergill brought home two species from China, one of which, Phaius grandifolius, flowered soon after in the stove of his niece, Mrs. Hird, at Appesby Bridge in Yorkshire. In 1787 Epidendrum cochleatum flowered at the Royal Gardens, Kew,‡ and Epidendrum fragrans the following year. Soon after the beginning of this century, several species were cultivated for sale by the Loddiges at Hackney, and this firm held for many years a most conspicuous place among orchid growers. As early as 1812 they grew a plant of Oncidium bifolium, which was brought from Monte Video, and about the same year the first of the Vandas, Aerides, and Dendrobiums were sent from India by Dr. Roxburgh. Although plants of many orchids were coming to this country during the first thirty years of this century, so little was known of their native places, and their conditions of life, that their cultivation was extremely difficult, and orchid growers met with constant failures. A house was set apart for them at Kew, and Lindley at the Horticultural Society also, by careful study of their habits, tried to discover the right treatment. One of the earliest private orchid-houses was that of the Earl FitzWilliam, at Wentworth Woodhouse, the genus Miltonia being named in his honour. His gardener, Joseph Cooper, was one of the first successful growers. In 1833 the orchid collection at Chatsworth was begun. The Duke of Devonshire procured plants from the East, and Paxton, who was his gardener at the time, was enabled to cultivate many successfully, and publish the interesting records in the Magazine of Botany, which he edited. The orchid growers since then that have been successful, are too numerous to mention. Such collections as that of Sir Trevor Lawrence are one of the wonders of the nineteenth century.
* Travels and Adventures of an Orchid Hunter. By Albert Millican, 1891. † W. B. Hemsley, Gardener's Chronicle, 1887.
‡ A Manual of Orchidaceous Plants, part x. By James Veitch and Sons, 1894.