09/26/14 8:00am

 

COURTESY PHOTO Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, in Lenox, Massachusetts, as seen from the gardens.

COURTESY PHOTO
Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, in Lenox, Massachusetts, as seen from the gardens.

Edith Wharton, born in 1862, is probably better known for her novels and Pulitzer Prize or as a friend of Henry James’ than for her gardens, but it’s hard to say in which one she took the greater pride. (more…)

09/19/14 8:00am

 

COURTESY PHOTO | Portrait of Gertrude Jekyll by William Nicholson, painted in October 1920, commissioned by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

COURTESY PHOTO |
Portrait of Gertrude Jekyll by William Nicholson, painted in October 1920, commissioned by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The two grande dames that come to mind immediately are Gertrude Jekyll and Edith Wharton.

Gertrude Jekyll was born in London in 1843. Her father was an officer in the Grenadier Guards and her younger brother was a close friend of Robert Louis Stevenson — so close that Stevenson felt free to borrow the family’s last name for his famous story, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” (more…)

09/15/14 12:00pm
HERMAN KNOCHE PHOTO | Alice Eastwood in 1927.

HERMAN KNOCHE PHOTO |
Alice Eastwood in 1927.

Alice Eastwood was a plantsman.

She was born in 1859 in Toronto, Canada. Her mother died when she was six and she was cared for in a convent for most of her childhood. In 1873, at the age of 14, she moved with her remaining family members to the United States. (more…)

09/05/14 10:00am
PHILIPP WEIGELL PHOTO | The Regal Lily in bloom.

PHILIPP WEIGELL PHOTO |
The Regal Lily in bloom.

Carl Linnaeus, often thought of as the father of modern botany, was born in 1707 and grew up in a small Swedish village. He was the son of the local pastor and from the age of eight, he was obsessed with making lists. (more…)

09/02/14 12:00pm
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE | Alexander von Humboldt, detail of an 1843 painting by Joseph Stieler.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE |
Alexander von Humboldt, detail of an 1843 painting by Joseph Stieler.

They were eaten by tigers and crocodiles, murdered by unfriendly locals, slept alone in jungles and were often racked by fevers of unknown origin.

The plant hunters of bygone centuries all suffered from the same disease. They called it “botanomania.” They risked their lives in the search for the unknown plant, which was apparently an irresistible attraction. (more…)