New England Wild Flower Society's Lawrence Newcomb Library recently added three fascinating books of historical interest. Two relate to the founding fathers of the U.S. The third is a founding mother of the native plant conservation movement in the earliest part of the 20th century.
By Mary Walker
We have three new books in the library which you will want to look at. February 24 is Washington's birthday and Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf tells not only of Washington but three other founders of the United States, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. They all saw the United States as a nation to be determined by agricultural means rather than manufacturing, and Madison especially believed man must learn to live within his environment, not destroy it. There is much more to the work of the Founding Gardeners, their ideas and their influence upon the nation to learn about in this book.
After the Revolution, John Adams and Jefferson spent time in England waiting to sign trade agreements. There was great delay and to spend their time usefully the two took a long trip into the English countryside. There they found the big, formal estates had all been transformed into American gardens with American plants through the work of John Bartram and his British agent for sales, particularly Peter Collinson, beginning in1733 and lasting into the 1760s. This fascinating story is told in detail in the second of our new books in the library; The Brother Gardeners, also by Andrea Wulf.
The 3rd of the new books is The Wild Gardener, the Biography of Eloise Butler by Martha Hellander. Eloise Butler grew up in Maine, but moved to Indiana with her family and then to Minneapolis. She had friends in the recently established The Society for the Protection of Native Plants (1900) in New England and also in the Wild Flower Preservation Society of America founded in 1902 in New York. Thus, Eloise Butler brought the idea of native plant protection to the Midwest, particularly Minneapolis, as it was exploding with development by the late 1890's. She and other teachers persuaded the Park Board in 1907 to set aside an area (in a larger park) which quickly became known as the Wild Botanic Garden. This was indeed the first public wildflower garden in the United States. It eventually became the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary and the book details its history and development.