Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist John Lindley who died on this day in 1865.
Lindley was a British gardener, a botanist, and an orchidologist. He also served as secretary to the Royal Horticultural Society for 43 years. This is why the Lindley Library at the RHS is named in honor of John Lindley.
Lindley‘s dad owned a nursery and an orchard. And Lindley grew up helping with the family business.
In 1815, he went to London. He became friends with William Jackson Hooker, who, in turn, introduced Lindley to Sir Joseph Banks, who hired Lindley to work in his herbarium.
When Banks died, the fate of the Royal Botanic Gardens was put in jeopardy. Banks' death corresponded with the death of King George III, who was the patron of the garden. These deaths created an opening for the British government to question whether the garden should remain open. To explore their options, the Government asked Lindley, as well as Joseph Paxton and John Wilson, to put together a recommendation. Ultimately, Lindley felt the institution should be the people’s garden and the headquarters for botany in England. The government rejected the proposal and decided to close the garden. On February 11, 1840, Lindley ingeniously demanded that the issue be put before the Parliament. His advocacy brought the matter to the publics' attention; the garden-loving British public was not about to lose the Royal Botanic. And, so, Lindley saved Kew Gardens, and William Hooker was chosen as the new director.
Lindley shortened the genus Orchidaceae to orchid – which is much more friendly to pronounce - and when he died, Lindley's massive orchid collection was moved to a new home at Kew.
As for Lindley, there are over 200 plant species named for him. There is "lindleyi", "lindleyana", "lindleyanum", "lindleya" and "lindleyoides".
And here’s a little-remembered factoid about Lindley - he was blind in one eye.