Plants and their History

Plants both indoor and outdoor have been around for hundreds of years. Long before men drove cars or had electricity, they grew plants to be sure they had enough food in colder months. As times have developed, he found many other uses for plants, as well.

People all over planet have became more civilized and do not need to spend every waking moment simply trying to survive, now they spend time developing recreational pursuits. Surprisingly, one of these pursuits is gardening and plant care. house plants, landscape, outdoor gardens like flower and vegetable, rock gardens and even water gardening. In fact, plants are a part of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Gardening has continued to be a leisure activity throughout the centuries.

guava bloom and fruit

Asian cultures used plants to cure diseases for hundreds of years. Chinese medicine, especially, relied heavily on plants and herbs. Of course, with their strong reverence for the beauty of nature,these cultures also grew plants for their beauty. Many of the popular plants we have in our gardens today are the product of Asian gardens, such as the peony and the Japanese maple. These gardeners began growing new plant varieties by selecting plants with characteristics they liked and crossing them with other plants. Of course, plants usually had to be useful as well as pretty. The peony, for example, had a lovely blossom, but it also was used as a treatment for insanity or to keep demons at bay.

In the Middle Ages, royalty had flowers in their gardens, but most people gardened to provide food for their families. Churches and wealthy people grew herbs for healing. As people returned from fighting in the Middle East, they brought spices and herbs to flavor foods with them. Soon, these plants joined healing herbs in the garden.

As civilizations continued to progress, plants and gardens grew and flourished. During the seventeen hundreds, the nobility became interested in creating extensive flower gardens. Marie Antoinette fell in love with gardening and had botanical gardens and greenhouses built. She spent much of her free time caring for exotic plants. Soon, members of her court followed in her footsteps. Of course, French gardens were not so elaborate after the revolution, but plant lovers in England were beginning to build gardens that would form the foundation for the gardening craze of the Victorian era.

coffee plant with fruit

English gardens were formed to help display the wealth of the landowner and to provide a place to entertain outdoors. The gardens were filled with roses and other flowers. Greenhouses and conservatories were created to hold fascinating plant specimens from far away lands. Plant lovers developed new strains of common plants, such as begonias and daffodils.

Soon, it was fashionable for the nobility to add ruins and follies to their gardens. Since they needed a way to make these structures more interesting, they began to grow hedge plants in patterns to create intricate mazes. Topiary plants also gained popularity. Most country estates featured several animals shaped from boxwoods or other evergreen bushes.

In America, gardens were a bit more practical at first. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other famous men were passionate farmers and Americans followed in their footsteps. Large vegetable gardens were common, as were fruit orchards. Of course, Americans still grew flowers and had greenhouses or conservatories, but most wealthy people either lived in cities and did not have room for elaborate country estates or owned plantations and concentrated on growing cash crops.

As the Industrial Revolution created wealthy men of leisure, gardening began to change. Some of the amazing gardens that were begun during this time, such as DuPont’s gardens at Wintethur, actually still exist today. Elaborate fountains, massive plantings, and greenhouses filled with exotic plants took the place of a few formal shrubs and rolling lawns.

Surprisingly enough, the use of healing plants was almost non-existent at this time, as people began to rely on medications such as Penicillin. In fact, it is only recently that herbal medicine has come back into favor. Now, more and more people are dedicating portions of their gardens to healing herbs and plants.

In addition, people are buying more landscaping plants than ever. Many people are opting to stay home and turn their houses into vacation retreats instead of taking cruises or going to resorts. New and improved plant varieties are constantly being developed as plant nurseries work to fill the demand for hardy, healthy shrubs and flowers.

So, if you decide to add a few plants to your house and yard, you will be continuing a tradition that is hundreds of years old.

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