Friday, March 22, 2013

The Plant Hunters: Two Hundred Years of Adventure and Discovery Around the World by Toby Musgrave, Chris Gardner, and Will Musgrave


Extreme Gardening (Gardening Week)

Mommy, where do monkey puzzle trees come from? Or how about the Douglas fir or Clematis Montana var. rubens?  Have you ever considered where all our plants came from (other than a catalog)?  The Plant Hunters: Two Hundred Years of Adventure and Discovery Around the World by Toby Musgrave, Chris Gardner, and Will Musgrave explores the lives of brave men who scoured the world over to bring back those lovely plants that thrive in your garden. Their quests to find plant specimens often put them in perilous situations.  In this fascinating book you’ll find out how Ernest “Chinese” Wilson, the prolific plant hunter, got his “lily limp.”  You’d never guess this mild-mannered looking man was actually a daring Indiana-Jones type who faced treacherous rapids on the Yangtze River and narrow mountainous trails with dangerous landslides.  And speaking of Indiana Jones, Frank Kingdon-Ward was also terrified of snakes, but that didn’t stop him from conducting almost two dozen expeditions to exotic locales such as Burma and Tibet. This was one hardy man.  He endured falling off a cliff, armies of leeches, malaria, being impaled by a bamboo spike, and even survived an earthquake.  And you thought you had a rough day at work. Discover which plant collector was trampled to death when he fell into a pit that was already inhabited by a bull.   Follow the lives of both renowned Joes:  Sir Joseph Banks and Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker.  In all, the lives of ten fearless explorers are featured. 


Although their action-packed lives seem movie-worthy, their accounts are conveyed in a purely biographical format. It’s a “just-the-facts, ma’am” style of writing with no flourishing descriptions, no glimpses into their thoughts or emotions, no conversations to follow.  Nevertheless, I found this book an eye-opening adventure that made me look at the flowers in my garden in a whole new light.

Happy reading, happy gardening!
Annette

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1 comment:

  1. Great review!! Thanks for the eye opening info, sounds like one fascinating book! I never even thought about where all of our plants came from.

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