One of the early plant explorers in the seventeenth century was John Tradescant - his exploits both in England and what he called The New World are described in Philippa Gregory's superb books Virgin Earth and Earthly Joys.
The pilgrims in 17th century ships took plants and seeds with them on their long voyage from England to North America. They did not know if the plants they needed would grow where they were bound. All seeds and plants for the voyage were selected for their usefulness, and not for decoration. These were herbs for medicinal purposes, and dyeing, and crops for food.
To ensure the plants would survive the two month journey, the pilgrims made plant transporters out of natural materials. Baskets were made using willow, bramble, rose, ivy and other hedgerow plants.To transport cuttings, they made what appeared to be balls of earth but were in fact clay mixed with honey. Honey is renowned as an antiseptic so it stopped bacteria or mould from the damp conditions killing the plants. Seeds were also transported in dried gourds, and the tuberous plants were stored in ox bladders, to keep the roots damp.
Flowering plants for health included chervil and foxglove for dropsy, comfrey for backstrain and spitting blood(!) lovage for colic, and tansy to preserve the dead and treat fevers, worms, hysteria, flatulence and miscarriages. What a cure-all!
At a heart-rooted pain.
The thorn ran deep, the bud
Spread a crimson stain.
He would not pluck it, for fear
The rose scattered like rain.
But in Britain very few roses were grown before the reign of Elizabeth I. From the 1500's with explorers bringing new plants from abroad, and the advent of better printing techniques to spread the word, rose-growing burgeoned in popularity until by 1729 Chinese roses were being grown in Kew Gardens.
|"Lady's Slipper" orchid|