Did These Plants Come From?
From Europe, we have snowdrops,
hyacinths, daffodils and crocuses. From Africa came gladiolas,
hibiscus and geraniums. From South America: fuchsia, scarlet
sage, petunias and cupflowers.
The origins and history
of some of the most popular flowers and plants in our home
gardens and the world’s botanic
gardens are colorfully documented in an exhibition, “The
World in a Garden,” on display in the Lyman Conservatory’s
“Gardens everywhere can be viewed as microcosms of
the world of plants,” states the subtitle of the exhibition,
which accompanied the Smith Botanic Garden’s Spring
Bulb Show and will continue through the fall.
Through panels on the walls
of the gallery, the exhibition outlines the history of botanic
gardens from the Lyceum of Greece, overseen by Theophrastus
in 323 BCE, to an influential book, De materia medica, by
Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides, which describes more
than 600 plant species, and Herbarum vivae eicones (Living
Portraits of Plants) a
book compiled by Otto Brunfels in the 1500s.
It describes the evolution of
the science of botany in the 1700s, first by Swedish botanist,
physician and zoologist Carl Linnaeus, and with the profusion
of greenhouses beginning in the 16th century.
“The World in a Garden” was
curated by C. John Burk, E.D. Simonds Professor in Life Sciences,
who selected images for the exhibition from the Mortimer
Rare Book Room and from the National Geographic Image Collection.
title, Burk explains, is derived from a well-known article, “The
World in Your Garden,” written by Wendell H. Camp,
a botanist and plant explorer, first printed in National
Geographic in July 1947 with accompanying paintings
by artist Else Bostelmann. The article was later developed
into a book.
"The article apparently formed
a part of my botanical subconscious," comments Burk. "I remembered
it at once when I saw my first bulb show in the Lyman Plant
House in the spring of 1962. Here in a single greenhouse
room were crocuses, snowdrops, and fritillarias from Alpine
meadows, hyacinths from the shores of the Mediterranean,
and tulips from Turkey. The sight of all these plants, originating
from different climes and continents, yet assembled and thriving
together at winter's end, seemed little short of marvelous
then -- as it still does now."
Thanks to centuries of
exploration and plant exportation, today’s gardens, as “The World in a Garden” illustrates,
are reflections of the millions of species from lands near