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
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.
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.