This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The following list contains the date of introduction of some of the foreign plants which are now familiar in our gardens and conservatories: The common Acacia tree, a native of North America, was first cultivated by John Tra-descant, Sr., in 1640. The French and African Marygolds were introduced by John Gerard, author of the "Herbal," in 1596. The Almond tree, from Barbary, is first mentioned by Lobelius in 1570. A few years later, in 1596, Gerard cultivated the common Pomegranate. The dwarf Pomegranate of the West Indies did not appear in our gardens before 1730. To Gerard we also owe the first introduction of the Yucca gloriosa and the African Aloe. The Agave Americana was not cultivated for a century later. The Apple and Pear, Plum, and Cherry, are native plants, but the Quince came from Austria at the close of the seventeenth century. The Cucumber is a native, but was first cultivated in the sixteenth century, as was the common Melon. Asparagus, Cabbage, or Brassica oleracea, in all its varieties of White, Red, Savoy, Cauliflower, Broccoli; Turnips, or Brassica rapa, Beet, Hops, Horseradish, Celery, Onions. Leeks, Radishes, Mustard, Cress, Lettuce, are all indigenous plants.
The Potato, as is well known, came from America; the Marrowfat or common garden Pea from the South of Europe, as did the globe Artichoke, the Bean from Egypt, the China Orange from India in 1629, the Lemon from Asia in 1648, the Jerusalem Artichoke from Brazil in 1617, the Coffee plant in 1696, the Tea plant about 1768, Parsley from Sardinia in 1551; and to foreign countries we are also indebted for almost all spices and condiments except mustard. Garden Balsam, a native of the East Indies, was introduced by Gerard in 1596. The Plantain tree was first cultivated at Hampton Court in 1690, and the Banana in 1731. The Cedar of Lebanon, now so common, was not grown in England before 1683, and is first mentioned in a letter of Ray of that year. The common white Larch had been introduced in 1629, and the Norway Spruce Fir in 1739, first in Chelsea Gardens. The Canadian or white Spruce Fir was cultivated in 1700 by Bishop Compton. The Cypress tree of Southern Europe was cultivated in the garden of Sion House in 1551; the white Cedar, or arborvitae-leaved Cypress, in 1736. The common Hollyhock came from China at the end of the sixteenth century. Maize or Indian corn had been grown about the middle of that century.
To Gerard we owe the common Syringa from the South of Europe. The Sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica, from Brazil, is first mentioned in 1733 by Dr. Houston, who also introduced more than one species of Passion Flower from the West Indies. The Laurel or common sweet Bay came in 1562 from Italy, the Laurestine in 1596 from the south of Europe. The Aucuba japonica, now universal in our shrubberies, was first introduced from Japan in 1783 by Mr. John Graefer. The female plant, with its splendid berries, has only been introduced during the last few years, the Aucuba being till then regarded as a monoecious plant. We might extend this list largely, but enough has been noted to show how recent have been many of the additions to our gardens and forests, and how small the variety of species known before the days of Gerard's "Herbal," or even of Evelyn's "Sylva." A more complete list of the now common trees and flowers, with the time and circumstances of their introduction to England, would be an interesting compilation. - Leisure Hour.