Andrea here. As summer begins to unfurl here where I live in New England, the profusion of colors and textures—both wild and cultivated—coming to life have me thinking about gardens. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am NOT a gardener. Other than the annual rite of planting impatiens in the big urns on my entrance steps and herbs on my deck, I don’t have the patience to dig and weed, and work toward a vision that may take years to come to fruition. But I truly appreciate the artistry, and am grateful to those who have a passion for cultivating the earth.
My recent walks reminded me of a fascinating story in botanical history. One of the many books (too many—I really need more bookshelves1) stacked on the overflow table of my TBR and Keeper piles is The Brother Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf. It’s wonderful history revolving around a small group of men who started the movement of trading seeds and specimen plantings between America and Britain, which changed the face of the English landscape.
At the heart of the story is Peter Collinson, who was born into a prosperous English mercantile Quaker family. His father was a cloth merchant, dealing in high quality fabric both in Britain and its American colonies. Collinson, who couldn’t attend university in England because of his religion, took over the family business. But his real passion was botany.