Pelargonium ‘Pride of Exmouth’

Plant Heritage

Plant Heritage

Several plants commemorate the town of Exmouth in Devon including Campanula persicifolia ‘Pride of Exmouth’, Dianthus ‘Exmouth Gem’, Fuchsia ‘ Beauty of Exmouth’, Chrysanthemum ‘ Pride of Exmouth’ Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’ and Pelargonium ‘Pride of Exmouth’. This zonal pelargonium, was raised by Mrs. A Hitchen of 103 Salterton Road, Exmouth, Devon, and first exhibited as a novel variety by the Surrey Pelargonium Society at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, in June 1926. It was awarded a Reserve Medal (prohibitas non obligatum). The description states that it is vermilion flowered (intensely scarlet), dwarf, rose-like (extremely double), clustered with palmately-lobed non-zonal leaves which are plain and do not have the usual darker coloured ring around the leaf.

What makes this account even more historically interesting is this extract from the title deeds of 103 Salterton Road: “The vendor requests that six plants in good condition be given freely and in perpetuity to each succeeding title holder in order that the species be preserved”. At one stage the house remained empty for several months before being bought by the Exeter Health Authority as a nursing home, wherein one very tall, single stemmed straggly plant in bone dry compost was found, labelled, on a window sill. A Plant Heritage member, Roger Stuckey took  cuttings, which were successful, and it is now safe. Upon such capricious circumstances do some plants retain their grasp on existence.

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