Plant Hunters

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Plant Hunters Bibliography

Linda Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens, Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998.

Judith Wade, Italian Gardens, Rizzoli, 2002.

Ian Thompson, The Sun King’s Garden, Bloomsbury USA, 2006.

Prudence Leith-Ross, The John Tradescants: Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen, Peter Owen, London, 1984.

Andrea Wulf, The Brother Gardeners, Vintage Books, New York, 2008.

Mark Van Doren, Travels of William Bartram, Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1928.

Jack Nisbet, The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest, Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 2009.

E. H. Wilson, A Naturalist in Western China, Cadogan Books, London, 1986.

Roy W. Briggs, ‘Chinese’ Wilson: A Life of Ernest H. Wilson 1876-1930, HMSO Publications, London, 1993.

There are also two romantic novels about the Tradescants.  They are by Philippa Gregory.  The first is Earthy Joys about John Sr. and the second is Virgin Earth about John Jr.  You have to give them a large, creative allowance, but they are a good read.

This is not a comprehensive bibliography, but rather, a list of some of the books I consulted in preparing the course. 

What motives drive those who undertake hardships and danger to travel to remote parts of the world in search of new and unusual plants? We will try to answer that question by examining the lives of the 17th-century collectors, the Tradescants, father and son; the 18th-century American farmer turned botanist, William Bartram; and the more modern 19th and 20th-century plant hunters, David Douglas and Ernest Henry Wilson. Their searches covered the remote parts of Europe, Asia, and America largely in the service of those who garden. Note: Although the course begins with a study of garden design, it is not a course in practical gardening.

Although David Tarbet has been a professor of English literature and practiced law, his interest in plant exploration comes from leading tours of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston where he studied trees from all over the world and learned about those who had ventured far to bring those trees there. MSC.