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As Thrilling as Any Western Romance

Articles: As Thrilling as Any Western Romance

Lester Rowntree with plant press, Ynez, Mexico, June 1941. Photographer not known. Photograph courtesy of Special Collections, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
Tomes could be written on the pleasant by-products of the work. A collecting trip brings with it an awareness of earth and a sense of well being which adds to the larger life. You exchange confusion for peace; the feverish occupations of the city for the calm and quiet business of stalking plants in Nature’s planless plantings; and, most important, an unavoidably helpless and artificial way of life for one which is self-sufficient and authentic.
Lester Rowntree, Hardy Californians

Intrepid plant hunters in the first half of this century wrote about their adventures in a number of memorable accounts. E H Wilson’s A Naturalist in Western China (1913) and Reginald Farrer’s On the Eaves of the World (1917) are two examples of books that were eagerly read by gardeners and armchair travelers alike. When the formula featured the novelty of a woman plant hunter and a locale that had beckoned to restless easterners and Europeans for a century or...

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