E. H. Wilson (1876 – 1930) was a plant collector, at first for the firm of James Veitch & Sons in England and later on behalf of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts where in later life he worked until his early death in an automobile accident in 1930. Most of his exploring while hunting for plants took place in China and surrounding countries and there is a famous story of his having been caught while plant-hunting in the province of Szechuan, on a narrow mountain path, by an avalanche, breaking his leg, the path being so narrow that he had to lay, injured and in agony, while a pack-train of mules gingerly passed over him before he could be collected and carried to civilization to have his leg set. On that trip he discovered (and subsequently introduced) the beautiful Regal Lily (L. regale) for which he will be eternally remembered. Indeed there is a very long list of plants that he introduced to horticulture and it is amazing to think of the quality of many of them, considering that he was doing his hunting in the 20th century in areas that had been picked over by many earlier plant-hunters.
I have excerpted 3 chapters from his book Aristocrats Of The Garden (1917) that are as relevant today as when they were written; starting with The Story Of The Modern Rose (which we’ve touched on, in the past, here); I’ll follow that with two other posts, one on lilies and the other on lilacs.
The book that they are taken from, Aristocrats Of The Garden, can be downloaded here in a variety of formats; I’ve also posted the PDF version here if you would like to see the rest of the book.
Another of his books, A Naturalist In Western China, in two volumes, can be downloaded here & here.
aristocratsofgar00wilsrich – full book – PDF format