“Oh, I would gladly walk all the way from here to Santa Rosa for one more glimpse of him! Locking myself away from secretaries and visitors, I spent the next twenty-four hours in seclusion."
"Elsie returned to Cape Town in 1938. It was here that her real career began when she joined the Bolus Herbarium (Figure 2) under another formidable woman. Dr Louisa Bolus. […] It’s an astonishing fact that for the first 18 years of her employment she received no proper salary and was paid out of petty cash at a rate not much better than a laborer.She did not collect randomly; Elsie was above all an intelligent collector, seeking range extensions, local variants, or even new species, filling voids in the Bolus Herbarium’s records, often returning months later to collect seeds or fruits that were of diagnostic importance. […] Always self deprecating, one of her favorite comments was ‘I’m only filling in gaps’.”
“She was what I thought a botanist was supposed to be. She was in the mountains every weekend, and came back with big black plastic bags full of plants, that she sorted and passed to Gert Syster to press. She was the one person who could put names on plants that defeated my attempts. And she had little time for academic niceties—for her the important things were plants in the mountains, their welfare, their relationships. She was immersed in plants and mountains.”"Elsie taught me that each species has an essence, a character—that it liked some habitats but not others and that it flowered at a particular time. She was curious about the plants, not because they informed her about some theory or other, but she was interested in the plants themselves—she cared about them.”
"Her mode of transport was the bicycle (we have her latest model here today). She rode to the University of Cape Town up that dreadful steep road every day for a lifetime, come sunshine or rain, heat or cold. Now one knows why she was so fit and could outstrip any poor unsuspecting younger botanist in the mountains! Every day she would come up and park her bicycle behind the Bolus Herbarium building and then often jump through the window in the preparation section rather than walk all the way around to the front door.”
"The special value of the herbarium, is that it is collected by an eminent botanist not merely to contain as many species as possible, but to afford illustration of the principles of vegetable morphology and of adaptation of plants to peculiar conditions of environment."
Today's book recommendation
"so that my nervous lady friends may admire the plants without being shocked with the knowledge that each of these jars is the home of a spider."
Today's Garden Chore
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
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