Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tag: botany

For Camping Month: How to Share a Tent with a Smithsonian Secretary

"Mrs. Walcott sketching a wild flower in water colors on a frosty morning in camp."
“Mrs. Walcott sketching a wild flower in water colors on a frosty morning in camp.”

What are your plans for National Camping Month? Thinking of bringing along a sketchbook? You’d be in good company.

Mary Vaux Walcott (1860-1940) was undoubtedly a pro at camping. The naturalist and botanical illustrator spent the summers of her youth in the Canadian Rockies with her well-to-do family, where she became an active mountain climber, outdoorswooman, photographer, and started her first forays into botanical illustration. It was later in life, in her mid fifties, when she married the then current Secretary of the Smithsonian, Charles Doolittle Walcott, against the objections of her father.

Seeking the Ferns of Southern Mexico: on Oliver Sacks neurologist, bestselling author, and botanist

This post was written by Robin Everly, librarian in the Botany and Horticulture Library, with Spencer Goyette, contractor in the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Botany.

Working in the Botany and Horticulture library, I’m still surprised by the books I come across that I haven’t heard about. So when I came across Oaxaca Journal what caught my eye was the author’s name on the book’s spine- Oliver Sacks. Immediately, I wondered if it was the same Oliver Sacks, neurologist and bestselling author of books such as Awakenings, The Island of the Colorblind, and The Man who Mistook his wife for a Hat. Dr. Sacks, who died on August 30, 2015, of metastatic cancer, had the ability to communicate complex scientific concepts to the general public by providing well written prose as well as insightful and strange stories about the human mind. And yes, he, the same Dr. Sacks, wrote Oaxaca Journal, which is the personal journal he kept during a fern collecting trip to southern Mexico with the American Fern Society 15 years ago.

What’s in a Name? The Related Talents of Mark Catesby and Gertrude Jekyll

The Catesby Commemorative Trust launched the publication of The Curious Mister Catesby with a program at the National Museum of Natural History this past April. Smithsonian Libraries’ own Leslie Overstreet, a contributor to these various perspectives on Mark Catesby’s The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama islands (London, 1729-1747), spoke on that work’s long, complicated printing history. Another speaker, E. Charles Nelson, presented his research into the naturalist’s biography. His mention of the author’s maternal family name, Jekyll, caught my attention˗˗could this early 18th-century Englishman, who produced the great study of the flora and fauna of colonial America, be related to the later renowned horticulturist, influential garden designer and wonderful writer Gertrude Jekyll?

Spotlight: Elements of the philosophy of plants (Edinburgh, 1821)

eConnect

Elements of the philosophy of plants by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle and Kurt Sprengel is the first edition in English of a composite work by two of the most eminent botanists of the early 19th century. The first three parts on nomenclature, theory of classification, and descriptive botany are from a work by de Candolle, while the final part on the structure and nature of plants is by Sprengel. This book was recently adopted through our Adopt-a-Book program by George Gwynn Hill.

Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Awards Biodiversity Heritage Library

BHLlogo_WPThe Biodiversity Heritage Library received the Charles Robert Long Award of Extraordinary Merit from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL) on May 9. It is the highest honor bestowed by CBHL and was founded to honor outstanding contribution and meritorious service to the CBHL or in the field of botanical and horticultural libraries or literature.