Experiments on Plant Hybridization
26 November – 18 December, 2010
Dianne Tanzer Gallery
Melbourne, VIC

articipants are invited to join an amateur horticultural adventure to rediscover lost cultivars of edible and otherwise useful plants. In consultation with botanists and seed libraries, we are endeavouring – for a length of time determined by the (growing) number of subscribers – to locate seeds of a given ‘vanished’ plant for distribution to members. If within that time the desired cultivar remains elusive, another closely related rarity will be substituted in its place.

Lost Cultivars Subscription Service: ‘Crown Pea’ (Batch of 24)


he Lost Cultivars Subscription Service hereby sets out on its first expedition, in search of the ‘Crown Pea’ (or ‘Rose’ or ‘Mummy’ pea), a curious variety of edible pea that after 300 years of cultivation in Europe, fell out of favour with the shift from hand-picking to industrial agriculture – for which its dense, crown-like crop and ‘fasciated’ stem, the result of a genetic abnormality once studied by Mendel, were no longer desirable traits. The Lost Cultivars Subscription Service looks forward to a time akin to the 1800s, when peas were commonly available in a vast range of such quirky varieties (unscrupulous seed catalogues not infrequently announcing new ones that could be better described as ‘old friends with new names’), that along with their ease of cultivation ensured a succession of fresh produce over an extended season from May to October.

Perfect for hand-picking


Solarplate exposure unit (acrylic on glass, display case, wallpaper)

55 x 55 x 4 cm

Lost Cultivars Subscription Service: ‘Crown Pea’ (Batch of 24)


Solarplate etching on book page and Crown Pea seeds*

13 x 8 cm

he beginning of an ongoing series of works involving collaboration with scientists to locate disappearing plant species, the Lost Cultivars Subscription Service ‘Crown Pea’ offered up to subscribers 24 (as yet) empty seed packets, made from folded pages of the 1950s home gardening classic Shrubs and Trees for Australian Gardens, over which we printed solar etched fragments of the original Crown Pea. The solar etchings were created by drawing onto the glass surface of a display case-turned-exposure-unit, using the Crown Pea’s depiction in the Gardeners Chronicle of 1849, or rather its reproduction today on a small sign in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, as imperfect reference.

Please note: A limited number of subscriptions are still available for Batch no. 1: ‘Crown Pea’. Contact us for further information.

*Each subscriber contributes towards the project research and will receive their seeds by post in early 2011