Knight's Exotic Nursery
Today is the birthday of the gardener, nurseryman, and expedition sponsor, Joseph Knight, who was born on this day in 1778.
Knight was a gardener to George Hibbert, and he was also a private nursery owner - and a very successful one. His ability to sell plants and feature plants in his welcoming showroom was tremendous. When John Claudius Loudon visited Knight's nursery in 1831, he wrote:
“The effect on entering is excellent; the termination of the telescopic vista being [a] bronze vase... which is about 6 ft. in diameter and weighs several tons, [and] is painted blue on the inside, ... has a very cheerful and elegant appearance."
Loudon reported on a number of plants at Knight's nursery.
On the rhododendron, he wrote:
"So abundant is the honey secreted by [the rhododendron] that when they are shaken, it falls from them like large drops of rain."
On the Knight's orangery, he wrote:
"The mandarin orange, [is] remarkable for its perfume as well as its flavor. It separates from the rind like the kernel of a nut from its shell, without any trouble of peeling or paring, and has been very appropriately designated by the Chinese as the aristocrat of the orange family...
In 1829 after Hibbert retired, Knight received his entire collection of plants, which he added to his nursery called "Knight's Exotic Nursery. Knight used his nursery as a training ground for young gardeners. At the time, Knight's nursery was indeed one of the best in the world.
In addition, Knight was able to obtain plants from explorations he sponsored. Knight had a knack for tending to new plants, and Knight's nursery was a frequent source for specimens featured in the latest botanical magazines.
A little over two decades later, in 1856, Knight's nursery was bought by John Gould Veitch and became the world-famous "Royal Exotic Nursery" after he bought it.
But we remember Joseph Knight for introducing rhododendrons from Nepal, azaleas from China, and the Robin Redbreast bush to the gardens of England.