Collectibles in Gardening

[Also something regarding aviculture and other such collecting]

Collecting is often a catalyst to deepening interest and (eventually) expanding the general fund of knowledge about the subject.  Can lead to conservation/rescue of near-extinct forms (whatever is valued is going to be protected if not multiplied).  Hunting is a kind of collecting, but even that has, ironically to some, been a catalyst to conservation.

Collecting is a two-edged sword: in some cases it leads to depletion of wild populations of certain limited items like cacti, orchids, certain butterflies, tiger beetles etc.; on the other hand it increases awareness, research, and concern, which ultimately lead to conservation through protection of habitat and (hopefully) better management. . . .

Fortunately, most garden collectibles are propagated in nurseries and not stolen from the wild.  [Need a short essay on the pros and cons of wild collecting—not always the unmitigated evil that the politically correct police would have us believe.  Ties in with the “safer to take out than put in” dictum.”

All sorts of natural history interest lend themselves to collecting: people collect shells, fossils, photographs, trophy heads (thankfully, mostly a thing of the past), bird eggs (ditto), tropical fish, seaweeds, mushrooms, rocks and minerals, butterflies and other insects, parrots, waterfowl, doves, finches, orchids, cacti, fuchsias, dahlias, rhododendrons . . .  Photography and the current craze for bird listing are also collections.

Garden collections come in a great many categories, e.g.:

  • According to region or climate (California “native”, Mediterranean, tropical, South African, Australian, alpine, desert, Japanese, etc.)
  • According to some habitat specialty (rock gardens, shade gardens, water gardens
  • According to some use (herb gardens, fruit collections, bird or butterfly gardens, vegetable or cut-flower gardens, fragrance)
  • Miscellaneous specialties (dwarf conifers, bonsai, topiary, “freaks” such as weeping or columnar or fastigiate or dwarf cultivars)
  • seasonal emphasis (spring blossoms, fall color)
  • cultivar collections (apple varieties, hybrid fuchsias, roses, lilacs, Japanese maples, camellias, dahlias, begonias
  • taxonomic collections, i.e. based on some particular genus or group (some collectibles include: pines and other conifers), ferns, grasses, bamboos, palms, bulbs of many different genera, cacti and other succulents, iceplants, aloes, kniphofias, proteas, banksias, grevilleas, eucalypts, heathers, manzanitas, ceanothus, oaks, willows, hawthorns, maples, viburnums, orchids, dogwoods, rhododendrons . . . the list goes on and on)
  • Some South African specialties: aloes, euphorbs, mesembryanthemums (iridaceous bulbs, gladiolus etc.), kniphofia, restios, ericas, proteas, leucadendrons, leucospermums
  • Some Australian specialties:  Myrtaceae (including eucalyptus), banksias, grevilleas, xanthorrhoeas, callistemons, leptospermums, melaleucas
  • Some Californian specialties: manzanitas, ceanothus, fremontias, calochortus, clarkias, brodiaeas (sensu lato), miscellaneous trees and shrubs

Proteaceae, a California monopoly.

Whole family or any big genus e.g.:  Grevillea, Protea, Banksia

Genera present in all three southern hemisphere continents (excepting Antarctica of course)

South Africa:  Protea, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, others?

Australia: Macadamia, Grevillea, Banksia, other (small) genera

South America:  Embothrium, Gevuina, others?