The First Plant Collectors

Explore Kew Gardens - Virtual Tour



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© Explore Kew Gardens

Joseph Banks, who had sailed around the world on Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour, advised the King on the management and development of his estate at Kew. When further collectors were sent abroad with Banks' approval, Kew's abundance of exotic plants made it a garden of international importance.


© Explore Kew Gardens

Francis Masson's rich harvest of South African plants also included many Cape heaths, or Ericas which Francis Bauer, Banks' personal artist, drew and engraved for publication. Bauer was the first of a long line of botanical artists who have worked at Kew.


© Explore Kew Gardens

Living plants and seeds were transported to Britain in tubs and other containers but until the invention of the Wardian Case in the 1830s many failed to survive the long sea voyages.


© Explore Kew Gardens

The Wardian Case being filled in the photograph remained in use at Kew until the 1960s when air transport and other means superseded it.