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Articles » New Article in Chronica Horticulturae :The Migrations of Ornamental Plants
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Abstract from an article in Chronica Horticulturae 50 (1) March 2010

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Globalization in business and communications is of considerable interest and frequently discussed but globalization of another sort, that of ornamental plants, has received modest attention. All over the world large public parks and small residential properties contain bedding annuals and perennials which have become commonplace and ubiquitous. This horticultural standardization belies the fact that most of the plants are of diverse origin yet appear to be naturalized in their adopted countries. Most gardeners have no idea that their plants originated somewhere else. The preponderance of goods for sale at garden centers is of exotic material. The growth and development of modern horticultural commerce depend on this phenomenon.

Ornamental plants found most commonly are the impatiens from East Africa via Central America, the begonia from temperate and subtropical sections of Asia and South America, the petunia from South America, and the pelargonium from the western part of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, a Mediterranean climatic region. Tulips from Western Asia and Southern Russia and narcissi from Southern Europe are popular bulbs in countries around the world. There are also plants from tropical and subtropical lands such as camellia or azalea which do well in temperate zones and many from alpine habitats which flourish in the lowlands such as poppies and primula. Roses survive far from their primary habitats in subtropical regions.

Floral colonization is at work. The very nature of the pleasure garden changed in response to the arrival of adaptable plants from around the world which were equally effective in small clusters or large agglomerations (Fig. 1 to 5). The concept of bedding was born.