John Bartram Lives!

Yep, there he is. Showed up at our state Master Gardener College, just last week. I even went to dinner with him. The snake-on-a-stick startled the bartender just a bit.

The elder Bartram (his son William was also a great botanist and explorer) was the Royal Botanist to King George III and a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Stockholm. As with many of the Great Plant Explorers, his life combined botany with politics,
adventure, and lust [for plants,anyway]. Someone should make a movie…

Probably best know as the discoverer of the soon-to-be-doomed little tree, Franklinia
, he also was responsible for the introduction of lots of
other North American native garden staples such as rhododendrons,
, and deciduous magnolias.
Bartram died in 1777, but has recently been resurrected by Kirk Brown, master thespian and all-around talented guy.

Kirk works with Joanne Kostecky Garden Design in Allentown, PA, and is a director for Garden Writers of America.  But his passion for the life and times of fellow Pennsylvanian John Bartram takes the audience far beyond the usual gardening lecture. His presentation "John Bartram: The King’s Gardener" unveils the travels, collections, and psyche of the father of the nursery industry in the original thirteen colonies. I love the review by Stephanie Cohen (The
Perennial Diva!) "Kirk Brown did not imitate John Bartram, he actually
became him…anyone who has an interest in history or horticulture will
be spellbound by this presentation."  She’s absolutely correct. For more on John/Kirk,
check out

3 thoughts on “John Bartram Lives!”

  1. John Bartram also still is very much alive in many European (landscape) gardens and parks …

    I agree, a movie is overdue. In the meantime at least there are some good books. In addition to the books mentioned on I’d like to recommend the enthralling book, “The Brother Gardeners. Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession” by Andrea Wulf, 2009. A major part of her account on how Britain became a nation of gardeners deals with the influence of John Bartram and his partner in England, Peter Collinson. An excellent read.

  2. Johannes – I saw that book was out – thanks to your recommendation, I just ordered it! I love this stuff. Regarding the movie…
    I see Russell Crowe as John Bartram,but in a gladiator outfit…wait, that’s not right…

Leave a Reply