It has been calculated that 80 million years have elapsed since pollen was created yet we know very little about it.
Pollen is often taken for granted without any thought of its unfailing regularity, but without it all things on earth would die.
Pollination of flowers is a very complex affair for there are flowers whose pollen is sterile to its own stigma.
Therefore, pollen is needed from another plant of the same species.
Liliums and apples are examples of this.
Early pollination was carried out by the wind then with the development of flowering plants and trees a type of insect evolved known as hymenoptera.
Bees who carry pollen from flower to flower are members of this family.
Extraordinary provision is made to attract insects loaded with pollen from distant flowers.
If in some instances the insect fails to arrive, a flower will, at the very last moment, pollinate itself. Hollyhocks and daffodils are examples of this process.
In Nature the development and fixation of a new species occurs very slowly requiring perhaps millions of years of evolution.
But man has discovered how to cross-pollinate to establish new varieties and, in a small way, has done a great job. But remember man’s efforts are confined to hybrids as Nature creates the species.
Most people are daunted by the prospect of carrying on the work of hybridising when told they may have to wait many years for any worthwhile results, but thankfully we do have in our midst a dedicated and patient person who takes up this challenge.
Bob Cherry of Gawler on the North West Coast, the former owner of the large Paradise Nursery, 100 kilometres north of Sydney, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most prolific plant breeders.
Flowering cherries, lavenders, dianthus, camellias, michellias, hydrangeas, poppies, sweet peas, lupins, delphiniums, polyanthus, cinerarias, begonias, stocks, luculias, lilacs and violas have all benefited from Bob’s marvellous ability as a hybridiser.
This amazing plant hunter has collected material from all over the world from which to breed new cultivars for gardeners and commercial nurseries.
A great supporter of Bob is his charming wife Derelie, a well-known rose breeder and author of ‘Two Dogs & A Garden’, a very enjoyable read about their life.
Bob and his partners in sweet pea development, Neil and Irene Jordon, will have a display of their latest triumphs in sweet pea development at this weekend’s Launceston Horticultural Show at St Ailbes Hall, Launceston.
Bob will be at the show if you want to speak to him about the advancements in plant genetics and for gardeners interested in learning more about irises, Noel Button, an expert on their culture, will be available to help gardeners with any queries.
November 10, 11: Launceston Horticultural Society’s Late Spring Show of roses, iris and rhododendrons features a magnificent display of hybrid sweet peas grown by Bob Cherry. St Ailbe’s Hall Launceston.
November 17, 18: Longford Garden Club celebrates its 50th Spring Show and Longford Blooms with open gardens. Longford Blooms featuring eight open gardens in Longford,10am-4pm. Tickets $5 per person per day available from outside Longford Antique Shop, William Street.
November 18: Woolmers Rose Festival.
November 24: Friends of the Clifford Craig Foundation’s Garden Fete at Hattondale Farm, Carrick. 10am -4pm. Stroll through this beautifully landscaped garden along the Liffey River. Refreshments, sausage sizzle, Devonshire teas. Entry $5, under 16 free.