During the 19th century, wealthy British patrons deployed plant hunters to the farthest reaches to discover new and exotic plants for their greenhouses. In 1845, Thomas Lobb, working for the famous Veitch nursery, discovered, exotic, brilliantly colored rhododendrons growing on the jungled volcanic slopes in tropical Asia. Lobb collected samples of five plants and placed them in Wardian cases, miniature greenhouses that preserved the plants on their long journey back to England. When they arrived in England, these flowers, called vireyas, were an instant hit with the upper class. Within a few years, hundreds of hybrids, with they neon-bright flowers, graced the glasshouses of England. But, within a few decades, world wars and a glass tax would make heated greenhouses a luxury few could afford. The vireya celebration had ended. Fortunately, a few collectors preserved their collections, and their offspring live on. With its brilliant multi-colored flowers, the flower in this image is reminiscent of the early English hybrids. When you see this flower in bloom, you realize why the early English patrons paid handsomely to add these flowers to their collections.