The Brothers Gardens by Andrea Wulf (June 19th)


Eight people in attendance

Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began in America.

In 1733, colonial farmer John Bartram shipped two boxes of precious American plants and seeds to Peter Collinson in London. Around these men formed the nucleus of a botany movement, which included famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus; Philip Miller, bestselling author of The Gardeners Dictionary; and Joseph Banks and David Solander, two botanist explorers, who scoured the globe for plant life aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavor. As they cultivated exotic blooms from around the world, they helped make Britain an epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. The Brother Gardeners paints a vivid portrait of an emerging world of knowledge and gardening as we know it today. [from]


  • nature makes an art
  • Fairchild started the hybrid breed
  • took nature into his own hand
  • garden by the state of thee moon
  • different views for gardeners
  • experiments were the thing to do
  • God was the architect
  • 1787 the first garden publication

1   –     Roots

  • there should be gardens for every month of the year
  • plant boxes from France to the new world
  • Collinson was a Quaker
  • he developed a library for plants
  • enjoyed botany
  • the hunger for American plant from the English people
  • American plant were thought to be grown in the open, not hot houses
  • Bartram was to name the seeds, cross reference,  it was a good learning tool
  • used dried specimens for plant ID
  • kept the American soil
  • about a third of seeds would germinate
  • plants are called by its common name

2    –   The bright beam of gardening

  • if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need
  • In 1731 the first garden encyclopedia was published  (by  Miller) his dictionary
  • instruction on how to grow a geranium
    • causes
    • horticulture
    • when to prune
    • methodical order
  • believed in daily exercise (joyous digging in garden)
  • No alcohol is his garden!
  • insects were the age of pollination
  • the bees were the cupids of the garden
  • English gardeners used horse-dung – kept heat for 6 months
  • in 1690 hot houses were introduced by the Dutch
  • use of glass stoves, cold frames, & hotbeds
  • Miller had stewardship with his garden
  • He also named the plants  (1629)
    • there were “flower catchers”
    • Society of gardeners was developed
  • The society did not work out
  • According to Miller show the power of his dictionary

3 – My harmless sexual system

  • Fate on botanists
  • Clifford and exotic plants
  • From mother milk
  • well established magnolia was grown
  • Linnaeus came up with a new book to help classification of plants
  • It was very tough to follow
  • Difficult to use
  • founded the species
  • flowering plants divided into 23 categories
  • stiff trying for a better classification
  • on genes, or sexual characteristic  (system)
  • Sloane museum (the most fashionable)
  • count of stamens and pistils (use the Linnaean system)
  • Miller like to look at rarest blooms in great perfection
  • Linnaeus method was used more in America not England
  • Sexual system was inadequate 😦
  • Linnaeus was knighted in 1761
  • Theophrastus (300BC) was more sophisticated than what followed
  • Linnaeus thought his sexual system was the best

4  –  Pray go very Clean, neat & handsomely Dressed to Virginian

From one of the Buds

  • I was fascinated by the discovery that there was an identifiable first plant cultivar by Fairchild in 1716 and would have appreciated more information about the philosophical or religious upset it must have caused.
  • I also was stunned at the end of the book to discover that Linnaeus’ whole system of classification, done in Latin, received plant part names – stamen, pistil, bracts, florets – that were made up by Erasmus Darwin years after Linnaeus’ death.  Apparently Latin must have been used at the time covered by the book.  It’s so easy to assume that what we consider common was nonexistent at one time

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