Academic Day 9: Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew Library and Archive
11th of July 2014
Today at Kew Gardens, I took the most pictures of any day so far. It was such a treat for the senses! We began with a morning presentation with around two dozen incredible primary resource materials, on display exclusively for us, a walk into a Victorian-era continuously working herbarium, and then a very enchantingly intricate lecture concerning Beatrix Potter.
The Kew Gardens Royal Botanic (not 'botanical'!) Gardens Archives and Herbarium is a world-class educational institution. Not just in the dozens of different gardens held within the site does this institution teach. Multiple complexes are constructed for the education of children; adapted structures house rotating exhibits concerning herbal and plant uses, and the archives and archival herbarium has and will continue to produce world class health and wealth through information. Medicinal herb gardens are abundant on site, from different time periods and in different formats. King George III's medicinal herb garden, from the American Colonial period, was laid out in a rectangular shape; while, across the property, there is a giant human shaped garden that has growing in the different areas of the body, medicinal herbs that are beneficial for that specific part...foxglove in the heart, calendula on the skin, liverwort at the liver, and so on.
Mr. Andrew Wiltshire is a charming, knowledgeable, and humorous man of many talents. He participated in our class' walking tour, engaged many in conversation, including me. Looking at the exhibited artistry of an East India Company botanical artist, Mr. Wiltshire, who has international business experience, gave me a bit more of the background of that company, which, he said “owned the world” at its height. I told him about the land corporations owning the lion's share of mineral and property rights in Appalachia, still to this day, and he just laughed and our conversation on that topic ended. He went on to give us a very deep presentation where he made multiple connections concerning multiple people in multiple time periods which led to the decipherment of Beatrix Potter's encoded diary. After the presentation, I asked him if the code-breaker felt a bit uneasy publishing her diary. He responded by telling me of a family member in who was mentioned in a, by nowadays standards, benign reference to a family member that upset the older folks in the family...possibly the mentioning of an uncle who overindulged in pints. They were able to print the diary only if they omitted these passages, so they did. Years later, another addition was published and the original wording was put back in.