Monday, November 10, 2014

Peter Henderson Seeds - Quality, and "Weird" Selections


This Abobra looks like it would be an adorable little red pickle! Any chefs looking for a bit of sparkle on the plate?  See Wikipedia entry at end of post.

          

1883.  One hundred and thirty-one years ago.  What caught my interest here is that it was a relatively new practice to have test plantings, enough so that Henderson mentions it as a forward thinking process that was good for business.  

What interesting plants he is selling!  I wonder if Logee's offers any of these plants.  I am lucky to live near Logee's greenhouse.  In winter it offers a wonderful respite from the weather.  Old specimen plants are planted in the ground in the old greenhouses.  You should see the huge passionflower vines!  And the heavenly smelling Ponderosa lemon flowers, and the gardenias...and, and...



"Probably from the fact that our long experience as Practical Gardeners made us realize the necessity more strongly than most seed dealers, we very early in our career as seedsmen inaugurated the practice of testing all seeds before selling; this we were enabled the more readily to do from our possessing not only extensive grounds, but the best equipped greenhouse establishment in this country,  which gave us opportunities at all seasons to carry on the practice. 

From the comparatively small tests begun in 1872, this practice has extended and become so systematized, that the past season it required the entire use of one of our largest greenhouses for our seed tests during the fall and winter; and afterwards in spring, in the open ground, we had set out many thousand plants representing the stocks in Vegetable Seeds alone of over 900 growers. 

Our illustration above is a reproduction of a section of our Seed-testing Greenhouse as it appeared last winter. All these tests are carried on under the personal supervision of Peter Henderson and the other members of the firm, and, as the author of "Gardening for Profit."' has had as long and as varied an experience as most men in operations connected with the soil, it will be seen that we are placed in a position to judge not only as to the germinating qualities, but, what is of far more importance, the purity of, and the kinds of seeds best suited for all gardening purposes. 

If, therefore, you can buy seeds as cheaply from us— and we think that if you will compare prices you will find that you can— it will certainly be to your interest to do so.  Besides this we have an Experimental Garden, wherein we grow samples of all Novelties in "Vegetables and Flowers as they appear ; the advantage of this will be quickly seen, as it enables us not only to judge of what is meritorious, but, what is far better, by this test to discard all varieties with which, in our opinion, it is worse than useless to encumber our lists."

By the way, here is a photo of Bryonopsis for sale on eBay.  Most web references are to investigating its anti-microbial effects!  It is called Lollipop plant maybe?  I did not see any major seed company sources for it.  



And this Abobra was another toughie to find offered anywhere today. 
1863



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Abobra
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Cucurbitales
Family:Cucurbitaceae
Genus:Abobra
Naudin.
Species:A. tenuifolia
Binomial name
Abobra tenuifolia
(GilliesCogn.
Abobra is a monotypic genus of the gourd family containing the one species Abobra tenuifolia (syn. Abobra viridiflora Naudin.Bryonia tenuifolia Hook. & Arn.). It is native to South America, and sometimes cultivated as ornamental plants and also for its edible fruits. Common names include cranberry gourd.