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The first Hydrangeas The oldest fossil finds were found in North America , namely in Alaska , Oregon and California , they were dated at 40 to 65 million years ago , more recent discoveries in China , Japan , Taiwan and the Philippines prove that the Hydrangea have been on this planet long before the arrival of men.   Hydrangeas in Europe In China and Japan they already cultivated Hydrangea's many thousands of years ago , in North America the medicine men used the roots of H.arborescens as a means to drive out kidney stones and to combat bronchitis. The first Hydrangea arborescens ( North American species) was introduced in England around 1736 from Pennsylvania by Peter Collison. Grovonius gave the plant in 1739 in his work " Flora Virginica ' for the first time the name: Hydrangea . The still famous botanist Carolus Linnaeus , to whom we owe our current plant name system ( binomial nomenclature ) has mentioned already in 1753 the name Hydrangea arborescens . The name hortensia , in Belgium , the Netherlands and France still commonplace, was first used by Philibert Commerson , botanist and plant collector, who found some Hydrangeas in Chinese gardens ( 1767 ) and it took to France , he named the plants: Hortensia opuloides or even Hortensia hortensis.   Hydrangeas from Japan Since 1639 it was forbidden for foreigners to travel around in Japan, the only contact was by the island of Dejima in Nagasaki Bay and it was here that Carl Peter Thunberg , a pupil of Linnaeus , settled in 1775 and succeeded to acquire five hydrangeas from the mainland, he later called these plants : Viburnum macrophylla. Sir Joseph Banks brought in 1788 a Hydrangea from Japan with him and gave it to Kew Gardens , he called the plant: Hydrangea hortensis. Doctor and botanist Philipp Franz von Siebold succeeded around 1823 in two trips to the Japanese mainland and toke numerous plants with him. Thanks to his good work in the eye clinic and the gratitude of the patients , he managed to acquire many new plant species ( Hydrangeas / hostas ) When he was expelled in 1829 , for allegedly spying for the Russians , and had to leave Japan, he brought with him various kinds , including H. Involucrata , H. anomala ssp . petiolaris ( climbing hydrangea ) , H. Hirta , H.paniculata ...

The peony is named after Paean, who was a student of the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. Zeus turned Paean into the peony to save him from the anger of Asclepius, who had become jealous of his student’s healing abilities. Peonies are native to north Japan, parts of Asia, parts of North America and southern Europe. It prefers woodland habitats, but can be found growing on mountainous terrain as well. The genus Paeonia is the only member of the Paeoniceae family. There are around 38 species of peony. The most popular herbaceous peony varieties are P.officinalis and P.lactiflora, while P.japonica is commonly grown in UK gardens. Peonies bloom in a number of colours including pink, peach, white and maroon. There are also herbaceous varieties, which die back in winter, and tree peonies that remain active throughout winter. Peonies prefer full sun and slightly alkaline, well-drained soil. If a peony becomes top-heavy with flowers, staking will prevent the stems from breaking. Once peonies die back in the autumn, they should be cut back to ground level. Did You Know? Peonies have been cultivated for over 2,000 years, more for their medicinal qualities than for ornament. The Japanese protect the earliest peony blooms from the snow by protecting them with individual small thatched shelters. The Greeks believed that peonies were an important medicine and could cure more than 20 ailments. The Chinese name for peony is “sho yu” which means “most beautiful”...

Care & tips for flowers When buying your cut flowers, ensure they are wrapped securely for protection when travelling and, if they are to be out of water for a long time, get the stems wrapped in damp tissue. Buy flowers from a reputable outlet, and choose blooms with firm petals or with buds that show a degree of colour to ensure the flowers will develop fully. Make sure that you thoroughly clean your vases as any bacteria that are left inside will kill your flowers. Cut stems at an angle as this gives the stem a bigger area to take up more water, and stops it resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself. Strip all leaves below the water level as they can’t take in sunlight and oxygen underwater. Avoid direct sunlight, heat, or draughts which can wilt your cut flower prematurely. Keep your cut flowers away from fruit as this causes them to wilt faster. Remove faded or dead flowers as they occur in order to keep the rest of the flowers healthy. Refresh the water regularly and add proper flower food as required....