Have you ever thought about where our garden plants come from?
In the year 1768, Captain James Cook… then 40 years old, set out as commander of HM Bark Endeavour .
Captain Cook and his crew were the first to circumnavigate New Zealand.
The voyages were tough, the scurvy rampant, the Tahitians wiling, the thrill of adventure and discovery. These adventures always included a number of scientists, surveyors, geologists, physicians and surgeons, naturalists and botanists.
Risk of making it back to England was not good, as ships usually returned with less than half their crew – the call of adventure and willing patrons for King or Queen and country had it’s allure.
In reading some of their logs, many of the adventures would make today’s society blush!
Botanicals were important cargo, whether for feeding the crew, curing the crew, or making new discoveries in medicine. Advances in textiles for clothing, or securing a much sought after spice, or medicinal solution. It was the prospect of a lush bounty of botanicals that launched ships and planted the conquering flags of Motherlands.
This voyage in particular, English naturalist and botanist Joseph Banks (25) his assistant, Daniel Solander (35) a Swedish naturalist and botanist. Together they collected, measured, sketched, documented and preserved samples of over 350 plants from their explorations of coastal New Zealand.
After leaving New Zealand, Captain Cook dropped anchor & landed in 1770 – in a beautiful bay near what is now Sydney Australia – which they named “Botany Bay” – you get the picture:
” It’s all about the Plants!”
This is the motto of my beloved JC Raulston Arboretum named after dearly departed botanical adventurer J. C. Raulston.
245 years later horticulturists are still hunting for plants. Their tools and technology might have changed (more on that tomorrow), but the mark of adventure is the same.
Why do arboretums, botanical gardens and growers mount expensive expeditions?
Simple… the thrill of the hunt. The opportunity of finding a cool specimen growing in the wild – to test to see if it will grow and thrive in a different climate, elevation, ecosystem. The opportunity to bring a new plan to market or genetically match the Pangaea heritage – our continents created as one, long ago.
Some of today’s horticultural advernturers include: Dan Hinkley, Ted Stevens, Barry Yinger, Tony Avent, David Parks, Mark Weathington, David Creech, Todd Lasseigne, Brian Upchurch, Bill Barnes, Liu Gang, Takayuki Kobayashi, Yamaguchi-san, Suzuki-san, Dr. Fu andTeobaldo Eguiluz.
Stay tuned for the next installment of The Mark of Adventure…
Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife
NC Certified Environmental Educator
Garden Conservancy Regional Representative