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THE HISTORY OF THE CLIVIA IN BELGIUM

 

Introduction
 

The Clivia was first described by English naturalist William Burchell in 1828.  Widely sought after right from the beginning, this exotic plant named after Lady Charlotte Florentine Clive, Duchess of Northumberland and an avid plant enthusiast.  Extremely popular in Victorian England and in 19th century Belgium, the Clivia spawned a cottage industry in plant development.  More recently, the Clivia has become very sought after in the Far East.  From Japan to Korea to China, Clivias are found in public displays and in private homes.  In fact, in Bejing, Mao Tse-Tung’s body lies surrounded by potted Clivia.

 

 

History in Belgium

 

  The city of Ghent and the surrounding region is the center of ornamental plant cultivation in Belgium.

As early as 1648, the growers  were united in the "brotherhood of St. Dorothy .  In 1808 the "Agricultural and Botanical Society of Ghent" was founded, whose goal was to organize annual exhibitions following the English example. There can be no doubt that within this group of collectors there was a cross-border trade in plants and seeds over  the whole world, and thus the clivia entered Belgium.    

In the library of the Royal Society for Agriculture and botany of Ghent.

We found several publications, including an annual botanical journal entitled 'Flore des serres'.           

   In the volume for 1853, we find the description of Clivia (Imanthophyllum) Miniatum. The plant has narrow leaves and a 50 cm long flower stalk which contains 12 to 15 flowers.20 years after the first appearance of Clivia Miniata in England we would expect to see some changes.
But were these Clivia all descendants of the first imported plants? Or - what is more likely - had other and better varieties been imported?

   It was the time that Jean Linden was traveling around the world seeking for new plants.

Louis Van Houtte was also very busy with Clivia.

In 1879 (Illustration Horticole) we read  that "many new varieties of C. Miniata were introduced at the expositions held between 1873 and 1878.                               

The C.M. Lindeni, developed by Mr. Theodore Reimers, who was the head gardener for Mrs. Donner in Ottenhousen near Hamburg, Germany.

Further research  in Germany would be needed to trace the origin of these plants.

                                                         

 
This Lindeni has a very heavy flower stalk and a nice arrangement of the perianthes, with lovely color and deep orange flowers. The umbel can contain up to 39 flowers".

 

 

    

 


Also from Reimer's origin  was the Marie Reimers.  It was introduced in 1880 by ETS. Van Houtte , one of the largest nurseries in Ghent at the time.

 

 

  

 




A very nice variety was the Mad.Legrelle Dhanis  from 1881

                                                                                

 

 

In that time emprovement of the flowers was most important as by the Clivia M.  B.S. Williams
 

Another popular variety was the cross made by Charles Raes between C. Nobilis and C. Miniata, which was called the "Clivia Cyrtantiflorum; (as mentioned in Flore des serres, 1869).  

 

From 1879 onward, the seedlings of the C.M. Lindeni variety were very much in demand.
Some of the seedlings reflected the type in its purest form,

while other divergent specimens gave us numerous new varieties with large umbels and flowers and, more recently, also with broad leaves.

 

Front page of a cataloge of Edw. Pynaert Van Geert  . Presenting the varieties as Lindeni , M. Van Houtte , Robustum and splendens . Price list from 1902.

 

After the First World War, Bier & Ankersmit introduced the C.M. Compacta Robusta to the market. This was a more compact plant, with leaves twice as broad as existing varieties and leaf tips rounded rather than pointed. Through its participation in exhibitions and its catalogue publications, this large commercial grower located in Melle made this type known around the world  

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