Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Love and the Plant Hunter

The Zemu Valley, Sikkim
A few years back I traveled in the footsteps of the plant hunter Sir Joseph Hooker, in search of 'his rhododendrons' in their native habitat of Sikkim.  Part of the safety kit was a satellite phone and a GPS, with the former also used for personal calls.  I remember the delight of being able to ring home from literally the middle of nowhere.  I also remember thinking how hard it must have been for those plant hunting pioneers - and their families at home - in the days when it took 6 months or more to receive a personal letter from home or to get one from the wilds. 

A recent discovery in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Library and Archives offers an insight into the poignancy of such letters from Sir Joseph Hooker to his second wife Hyacinth and from Frank Kingdon Ward to his second wife Jean.

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