The 1880s

From a red poppy in his garden with white edging on the petals, Rev W Wilks, of Shirley, Surrey produces the Shirley strain of poppies with orange, pink and white flowers.

Johannes Adam Krupp starts a production operation at Clifton Nursery in West London. He builds a good business from growing and selling plants and a fine reputation for hiring out stock to London’s hotels, theatres and latterly
film studios.

Henry Frederick Conrad Sander dispatches more than 20 collectors to Asia and South America for
new orchid species. Some 60 greenhouses accommodate the vast stock held by the firm which becomes the focus of orchid culture in Europe.  

The National Dahlia Society is formed – now the world’s largest all-dahlia society holding exhibitions at RHS Wisley and the Great Yorkshire Showground.

Joseph Rochford moves to Turnford in the Lee Valley, followed by brothers Thomas and Edmund in 1887. Thomas goes on to own one of the largest nurseries in the whole district and the Rochfords became world leaders in the production of house plants.

Charles Robert Darwin dies at his home in Downe, Kent

Bordeaux University professor, Pierre-Marie-Alexis Millardet notices that copper sulphate spray, applied to grapes to discourage children from eating the fruit, deters downy mildew. By adding lime, which causes the copper to precipitate and stick to the leaves, he invents Bordeaux mixture – an important early fungicide.

The Genera Plantarum, prepared by Joseph Dalton Hooker when director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew with co-author George Bentham, is finally published. The publication, which took 25 years to produce, is regarded as the most outstanding botanical work of the century. It describes over 7,500 genera and nearly 100,000 species and establishes the Bentham-Hooker model for plant classification.

Gravetye Manor in Sussex and the 1,000 acres in which it stands is bought by gardening pioneer William Robinson. At Gravetye, Robinson realises many of his ideas for the creation of the English natural garden.

The RHS Great Spring Show moves to London’s Temple Gardens near the Embankment.

Ernest William King founds EW King & Co on three acres of land. By 1918 he is farming 1,500 acres.

Horticulturist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and 20-year-old architect Edwin Luytens meet, beginning a lifelong collaboration.

Some 154 beneficiaries of the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Institution are now receiving a pension, in large part thanks to secretary, Edward Cutler, a clerk in the Westminster Fire Office, who devotes his spare time to raising money for, and awareness of, the institution.

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