Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 2 of the Viscountdown! The Chusan Palm

on Page 154, Valerian is re-planting a Chusan Palm he'd sent back from his travels in Italy. The story of the Chusan palm is an interesting one. It's origins actually date back to the Chusan Island in China and it grew on high mountain tops as well as thrived in warmer Meditteranean climates. If you'd like to read about the history and care of a Chusan Palm, this website is extremely informative: I've also included a photograph taken in Cornwall of Chusan plams.

Also of interest is the history of the palm in Britain. I took a little liberty here. The Chusan Palm doesn't show up in Britain until 1849 thanks to the efforts of Robert Fortune who brings some seeds to Victoria and Albert for planting in the gardens at Kew. I decided Valerian would beat him to it, after all, the Chusan or fan palm was popular in Italian gardens and it was becoming a common practice for British citizens abroad to bring home exotic items. It is generally held that as the British Empire expanded, more and more exotic items found their way to Britain. If you'd like to read more about the spread of the Chusan palm to Britain, this website proved helpful.

Finally, the reference that Valerian is in Italy gave me the idea for the Undone Short, "Pleasured By the English Spy," due out later in spring 2009 (although it's obviously a prequel to the Viscount Claims His Bride since it focuses on Valerian's years abroad). When is Val in Italy? For the marriage of his friend (the Hero in Pleasured by the English Spy) Andrew Truesdale. I think it's fun to read the Undone Short and say "hey, I bet that's when Valerian picks up the palm!

Today, Italy is one of Europe's primary growing places for the Chusan palm. Hope you enjoyed this foray into horticulture!

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