Saturday, June 11, 2016

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

Extreme Gardening (Stuttering Summer)

I'm continuing with repeats of book reviews this summer that involve gardening or traveling.  Check out French Dirt by Richard Goodman, if you missed it.  

Along with the reviews, my guides, Jonathan and Drew Scott, will show you glimpses of my own garden. 

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.

As a special treat, I wanted to share a view of my friend Jill's beautiful garden.  I was so excited to be able to tour this awesome place.  Here she has a pergola with colorful lupines and masses of dame's rocket underneath.  Notice the wine corks on the arbor posts.  What a fun idea!

Drew and Jonathan posing next to some Columbine in my garden.
Here's Drew hard at work trying to close another deal.  Didn't anyone tell him this house is not for sale?

Here's Jonathan guarding my pink dianthus.
Jonathan hiding in the geraniums in a window box on my granddaughter's playhouse.  Tune in later this summer for a tour of her playhouse. 

Happy reading, happy gardening!


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