The Off-The-Cuff Botanist

#OTD Born on 16 April 1886, Sir Edward Salisbury was the youngest of nine children.

His passion for plants started as a child. On outings, Salisbury would collect flowers to grow in his own patch at home. Get this: He attached a label to each one, giving its Latin name. His brothers called his garden ‘The Graveyard’. Typical brothers.

One of the leading British botanists of the twentieth century, he was the director of Kew during the Second World War. He was not simply an expert on plants themselves, he was supremely interested in their natural habitat.

He wrote many books - my favorite of all of his books is “Weeds & Aliens”. In it, he went for a walk in the countryside and discovered when he gets home that the cuffs of his wool trousers were full of seeds. He decided to try to grow them and was astounded to discover that he was able to grow more than 300 plants “comprising over 20 different species of weeds."

It was Sir Edward Salisbury who said,

“The double lily was and is a crime against God and man."

He lived to be 92.

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Sir Edward Salisbury photo from obituary
Sir Edward Salisbury photo from obituary