I have always liked horticulturists, people who make their living from orchards and gardens, whose hands are familiar with the feel of the bark, whose eyes are trained to distinguish the different varieties, who have a form memory. Their brains are not forever dealing with vague abstractions; they are satisfied with the romance which the seasons bring with them, and have the patience and fortitude to gamble their lives and fortunes in an industry which requires infinite patience, which raise hopes each spring and too often dashes them to pieces in fall. They are always conscious of sun and wind and rain; must always be alert lest they lose the chance of ploughing at the right moment, pruning at the right time, circumventing the attacks of insects and fungus diseases by quick decision and prompt action. They are manufacturers of a high order, whose business requires not only intelligence of a practical character, but necessitates an instinct for industry which is different from that required by the city dweller always within sight of other people and the sound of their voices. The successful horticulturist spends much time alone among his trees, away from the constant chatter of human beings.
Many plants new to North America first sprouted up alongside wharves and shipyards. From there they made their way inland along new roads hacked out of the wilderness, and later along canals and railroad embankments, taking up residence in any sort of disturbed soil. Native plants adapted to quiet precolonial forests and meadows gave little competition to the aggressive intruders. As Pilgrims and Puritans leveled the ancient New England forests, their floral co-colonists thrived in a landscape that soon came to resemble that of their former European home. Plants that thrive in verges, especially, came into their own.
Traffic in the opposite direction was not nearly as successful. Seeds that made it eastward across the Atlantic as stowaways in vessels were met at European shores by native plants long adapted to their cultivated environment. The American newcomers didn't have a chance of competing. But European horticulturalists had a keen interest in plants of the New World and made places for them in gardens and botanical collections. The earliest explorers of the North American continent included avid natural historians who collected plants and animals for shipment to Europe, an often ill-fated venture. Consider the misfortune-prone Scot, John Goldie, who vigorously botanized in Canada and the northern United States at about the time the Ameses began their shovel-making operations in North Easton. His efforts to inform the Old World of the treasures of the New were fraught with uncertainty He put his hardwon specimens on sailing ships bound for home; one, two, three collections went astray, one in a shipwreck, two vanishing in transit, sea captains responsible for cargoes of economic importance could hardly be expected to pay much mind to packages of roots and seeds. Ever persistent, Goldie finally managed to get a collection of plants back to Scotland.
Botany is a branch of Natural History that possesses many advantages; it contributes to health of body and cheerfulness of disposition, by presenting an inducement to take air and exercise; it is adapted to the simplest capacity, and the objects of its investigation offer themselves without expense or difficulty, which renders them attainable to every rank in life; but with all these allurements, till of late years, it has been confined to the circle of the leamed, which may be attributed to those books that treated of it, being principally written in Latin; a difficulty that deterred many, particularly the female sex, from attempting to obtain the knowledge of a science, thus defended, as it were, from their approach.^