Sometimes sheer curiosity takes over and leads us down several (metaphorical) garden paths. Several weeks ago we wrote about the cherry trees at Genus HQ and hand in hand with cherry trees goes Collingwood Ingram (1880-1981) better known in horticultural circles as ‘Cherry’ Ingram due to his fascination with the genus Prunus. An early interest and passion in ornithology was replaced after the first world war with horticulture and he was very soon an authority on the subject being invited to speak in 1926 to The Cherry Society in Japan.
But this blog isn’t a biography, it's about the paths we can take when we start digging (metaphorically, again!) into a subject and the fascinating pieces of history we can pick up on the way. What sparked this interest was a plant that we have growing in our shaded border adjacent to our ivy clad garage. Ompholodes ‘Cherry Ingram’ or navelwort (pictured) holds the RHS award of garden merit and has sprays of gentian-blue flowers that are larger than the original species.
It turns out that Mr Ingram is also responsible for a number of other plants that we regularly see in gardens. Several were named after his home town of Benenden in Kent and include Rosemary ‘Benenden Blue’ and Rubus x tridel ‘Benendon’.
Another catalyst for our recent inquisitive minds is our favourite bedtime reading ‘The Grove - a nature odyssey in 19 and a half front gardens’, a new book by Ben Dark who holds an MA in garden and landscape history. He can ‘dig’ and follow ‘garden paths’ so overgrown that they have long since been forgotten and with his forensic skills can uncover fascinating facts that he weaves together, making even the most commonplace and ordinary garden plant compelling.