Isabella Preston

Isabella Preston

Photo credit: Chatelaine magazine, October 1943, Preston Papers, Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario

Felicitas Svejda at the opening of the explorer roses garden at the Central experimental farm

Felicitas Svejda at the opening of the Explorer Rose Garden at the Central Experimental Farm

Photo credit: Shirley Cumming

 View of the Farm around 1890

Photo credit: Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site Management Plan, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The hybridization of plants is the process of combining two genetically different plants to result in a third individual plant with different, often preferred, traits. Such cross-breeding results in new genetic combinations. While hybridization occurs in nature, it is the systematic approach by humans that has resulted in some of the most significant developments. The Central Experimental Farm has a long and distinguished history of plant breeding, and this was, in fact, one of the motivations for establishing the experimental farm system in 1886. 

Most hybridization of plants in Canada has been carried out to improve the hardiness of plants, and to create new hybrids of plants that were better suited to the climactic and soil conditions of Canada. In addition, there was an ongoing search for greater yields of crops, and ornamental plants, shrubs and trees that were more suitable or attractive to Canadian gardeners.

Hybridization requires a great deal of laborious and time-consuming work, and calls for a great deal of patience. While many seeds may be collected and planted, generally only a very few will be worth keeping and growing on. It can take several years before the seedlings bloom, or before the characteristics of the plant are clear.

Canadian hybridizers have been key to the success of farming and gardening. They have developed plants that are designed for Canadian conditions, and in response to demands from Canadians. They have left a rich heritage and legacy.

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