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The Plant Hunter's Garden by Bobby Ward

The Plant Hunter's Garden by Bobby Ward

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Many gardeners are vaguely aware of the "greats" of plant exploration, such as E. H. Wilson, George Forrest, or John Tradescant.

Fewer may know the names of today's plant explorers or recognize the makings of a new golden age of plant discovery. Nonetheless, a quick visit to almost any nursery will reveal the bounty of these intrepid plant collectors, whose handiwork enriches gardens everywhere.

The Plant Hunter's Garden profiles 32 of today's more prolific plant hunters. From the Czech Republic to the Rocky Mountains, Bobby Ward has sought out those explorers in the private sphere who are collecting plants specifically for horticultural introduction.

While providing interesting details on the lives and careers of these new explorers, the real focus of the book is on the plants themselves. Ward asked each of the hunters to choose the very best treasures from their years of collecting, and has sumptuously illustrated these jewels in stunning photos.

Many plants in these pages became bestsellers quickly after introduction from the wild, but hundreds more underappreciated gems are sure to entice and surprise any reader of this book. From the comfort of the armchair or the potting-shed table, readers of The Plant Hunter's Garden can embark on their own voyages of discovery in these delightful pages.

Modern day plant hunters, like their historical counterparts, actively seek new plant species of horticultural value. Unlike the early plant hunters, they do not dig plants but only collect seeds or take cuttings for propagation.

The large number of gardeners in this country and abroad has created a strong demand for new and exciting plants. Our gardens today reflect the success of these dedicated plant explorers, including the “Swallow-tail Columbine” discovered by Sally Walker and introduced by High Country Gardens, the “Mesa Verde Ice Plant” selected by Panayoti Kelaidis, numerous specialty bulbs, hostas, hellebores, epimediums, osteospermums, gazanias, camellias, peonies and more.

Bobby Ward, author of the newly published book The Plant Hunter’s Garden—the New Explorers and Their Discoveries, (Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 2004) will lecture on the subject on Thursday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. in the Orangerie at Red Butte Garden. The Wasatch Rock Garden Society and Red Butte Garden present this event; admission is free for WRGS and Red Butte members and $5.00 for nonmembers. Bobby Ward is a native North Carolinian and lives in Raleigh. He has a masters and doctorate degree in botany and plant physiology and is a retired environmental scientist. Bobby is the co-editor of A Garden of One’s Own and author of the delightful A Contemplation Upon Flowers: Garden Plants in Myth and Literature published by Timber Press in 1999. He is past president of the North American Rock Garden Society.


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