February 21, 2022 Hieronymus Bock, John Henry Newman, Lady Joan Margaret Legge, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker by Ray Desmond, and Anaïs Nin


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Historical Events

1554 Death of Hieronymus Bock (books about this person), German botanist, physician, and Lutheran minister. Regarded as one of the fathers of modern botany, he tended the gardens of Count Palatine Ludwig for nearly a decade. He also was one of the first true field botanists and searched for plants throughout the German empire. He coined the term Riesling as a type of wine in his herbal. His surname was translated in Latin to Tragus ("Trah-goos"); he was honored by the grass genus Tragus and the spurge genus Tragia.


1801 Birth of John Henry Newman (books by this author), English theologian, scholar, and poet. His words are in the intro to Abram Linwood Urban's My Garden of Dreams:

The garden mystically… a place of spiritual repose, stillness, peace, refreshment, delight.


1885 Birth of Lady Joan Margaret Legge ("LAY-gee"), English botanist and the youngest daughter of the sixth Earl of Dartmouth.

Lady Joan's story ends in the Himalayas. It can be linked to a 1931 expedition of three English mountaineers who got lost in the Himilayas and stumbled on a valley of incredible beauty. Blooms of exotic wildflowers made it seem like they were in a fairyland. One of the climbers was a botanist named Frank Smythe. In his book, Kamet Conquered, he called the area the Valley of Flowers.

The Valley of Flowers is a seven-day trip from Delhi. It is now a protected national park. As the name implies, it is a lush area famous for the millions of alpine flowers that cover the hills and slopes and nestle along icy flowing streams. Along with daisies, poppies, and marigolds, there are primulas and orchids growing wild. And the rare Blue Poppy, commonly known as the Himalayan Queen, is the most coveted plant in the Valley.

The Valley of Flowers remains hidden through most of the year, buried under several feet of snow throughout a seven-to-eight-month-long winter. But in March, the melting snow and monsoon activate a new growing season. This spring season opens a brief 3-4 month window when the Valley of Flowers is accessible to humans – generally during the months of July, August, and September.

Lady Joan traveled to the Valley of Flowers as a direct result of Frank Smythe's book. Smythe's work inspired many, and it attracted the attention of Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden, and they decided to sponsor Lady Joan's trip. Although some of her friends were against her going to India, Lady Joan was eager to go. She was 54 years old and unmarried. And she likely needed a break from her regular duties of caring for her father, the poor, and herself ( she had just gotten over a bout of pneumonia). 

In 1939, Lady Joan arrived in the Himilayas, accompanied by guides and porters. As she made her way over the lower foothills, she collected alpine specimens. On the day she died, Lady Joan slipped on the slopes of Khulia Garva. After she fell, her porters recovered her body. They buried her in the Valley at the request of her older sister, Dorothy. Then, all of Lady Joan's belongings were packed up and sent home to England.

The following summer, in 1940, Dorothy visited her sister's grave and placed a marker over the spot where she had been buried. Today, tourists still visit Lady Joan's grave, and it includes poignant words from Psalm 121:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
From whence cometh my help 


Grow That Garden Library™
Book Recommendation

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker by Ray Desmond

This book came out late in 2007, and the subtitle is Traveller and Plant Collector.

Joseph Dalton Hooker is remembered as a Victorian British botanist, explorer, President of the Royal Society, and director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. When he died at 94, he had accomplished a great deal. Joseph had established a network of botanic gardens around the world to facilitate discovery and classification, which enhanced the world's economy and promoted trade. In 1877, Joseph was knighted for scientific services to the British Empire, and he was awarded the Linnean Medal in 1888.

As Charles Darwin's closest friend, he learned of Darwin's theory of evolution long before it was made public. And Hooker was instrumental in getting Darwin's work published. 

As for Joseph, he traveled the world in search of new plants.  

He nearly drowned in the Antarctic Ocean during his first major expedition on Sir James Clark Ross' epic voyage to Antarctica in 1839-43. 

And during his trip to the Himalayas, he was imprisoned by the Rajah of Sikkim. But he was eventually released and when he saw the noble rhubarb in bloom, he wrote,  

It is the most wonderful-looking plant in the whole of the Himalayas.

Here are a few fun factoids about Joseph Dalton Hooker.

His wife was named Hyacinth.

And a few years ago, Kew Gardens shared that, during his travels, Joseph would address letters to his young son to "my dear little Lion" or "my dear cub."

You can get a copy of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker by Ray Desmond and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $16.


Botanic Spark

1903 Birth of Anaïs Nin ("Ana-ees") (books by this author), French-Cuban-American author. For over twenty years, she led two different lives and was married to two men simultaneously. Every six weeks, she would travel between New York to be with her first husband and LA to be with her second husband. In 1977, she died of cervical cancer in Los Angeles. Her unabridged diaries that spanned 63 years were published posthumously.

Anaïs once wrote these words,

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.


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