This week’s Photo Challenge ‘Elemental” had me casting my eyes heavenwards … and then down to the window-sill. Elements of fire, earth, water and air are all captured here, as a winter sun pours into the house.
Simply put, Planet Earth thrives because of plants. They provide food, oxygen, medicine, and products, as well as creating and preserving the soil.
There’s a potted history in the three flower types this little posy -Violas were herbal medicine used by the Greeks as early as 4th Century B.C. Edible Nasturtiums were found in Mexico and Peru and taken back to Spain by the Conquistadors in the 16th century. Petunias were also discovered about the same time in Argentina. Scots explorer James Tweedie sent purple ones back to the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens in the 1830s.
Plant collecting expanded with the British Empire. Edinburgh’s ‘Physic’ gardens and Royal Botanic Gardens flourished from 1653 on.
The British ‘landed gentry’ arranged the education of their off-spring in birth order. Their first son, as heir, was destined for university or would study law, as might their second son. Other younger sons would go into the Priesthood, the Military or (Dear me!) Trade and apprenticeships. By the 1800s, with the expansion of the sciences like Botany in the Age of Enlightenment, a dedicated few became plant explorers, travelling to exotic places, Asia, Australasia, and the Americas, they brought back rare species for the gardens of the great estates, like Crarae Garden in Argyll, Scotland. There, you may walk amongst Nepalese, Chinese and Tibetan trees and shrubs sent back by botanist Reginald Farrer.
Camellia, member of the Tea Family from China.
There’s so much about plants that is taken for granted – more stories to tell … Just grow some, water them, care for them!
For more info about the Golden Age of Botany, see PlantExplorers.com. There you’ll find out about how other intrepid explorers battled the elements to bring back rare specimens … See Joseph Banks (1743-1820) who sailed with Captain Cook … or Scotsman George Forrest (1873 – 1922) from Falkirk, who discovered over 1200 plants in China, Tibet and Burma and then introduced hundreds of them into western cultivation.
See also this List of gardener-botanist explorers of the Enlightenment
DAVIES, Amanda.The History of the Petunia in “Thompson & Morgan” (Blog) Feb 12, 2016. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.
Pansy. Aggie Horticulture, Texas AgriLife Extension Series. Downloaded 10 August 2017
PlantExplorers.com; the Adventure is Growing. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.
PERRY, Leonard. (Dr.) Nasturtium; a favourite old-fashioned flower. in “The Green Mountain Gardener.” University of Vermont Extension, Dept of Plant and Soil Science. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.
‘Reginald Farrer.’Wikiwand. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.
Wallis, Patrick (and) Webb, Cliff. The Education and Training of of Gentry Sons in Early Modern England. ISE, London, (forthcoming). Downloaded 10 August, 2017.
All text and photos by Meg.
Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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