09 May 2019 by Roy Preece
Probably my earliest visual memory is the flowers of Kerria which I likely saw from my pram in someone’s garden! Recalling the memory some years later I thought maybe it was a dream. Were they even real flowers? – with their rugged beauty, they weren’t a bit like ‘proper’ flowers that children draw, such as daisies and tulips.
Then with great pleasure, I rediscovered Kerria and its memories, and now it grows in my garden. It flowers for several weeks and I’m told the colour is best if it grows in some shade; otherwise, the flowers get pale instead of rich orange.
Like many of our garden flowers, it was introduced from far off countries by one of our ‘plant hunters’, William Kerr (hence Kerria). Wild Kerria is found in China, Japan and Korea. I don’t know whether it grows in Taiwan though; perhaps someone can tell me.
Kerr went out to Hong Kong in 1804 and spent eight years in China and Japan looking for interesting plants for English gardens.
The wild Kerria is a simple flower with five petals, but Kerr found a ‘double’ variety with tousled heads of many strap-like petals and this is what we usually think of as Kerria today. For me, it still has a magical quality.