I have been reading about gardeners to keep me going in the winter months. Well, really it is more reading about women botanists. It has been a small study of the women of our past and present and their work with plants. There are lots of women like myself who garden to feed the family and have flowers around – it use to be a way of life. All the women of my family in past generations had gardens. Some of them small and some of them very large.
My reading moved towards the women who broke the cycle of a homemaker who raised children and put a few seeds in the ground. I have been reading about the many women who were really interested in botany. In the past they struggled to travel on their own, to have their research recognized and so they hid under a male name or sent their work to a male who then presented it to the scientific community. These women may have gardened but their time was out in the wild observing and discovering new plants. Now we can find many women all over the world who are recognized for their work with plants.
- Eloise Butler (create the first wild garden in Minneapolis – did lots of plant research and identification of plants. She was a science teacher as well.)
- There is Beatrix Potter who we know as author and illustrator to Peter Rabbit. If you research her you will find she did work around mycology (mushrooms).
- Rachel Carson – There is a book that is a collection of little know writings by her called Lost Woods – The Discovered Writings of Rachel Carson.
- Robin Wall Kimmerer is a current scientist who wrote Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss.
A quick look at other female botanists can be found here- http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-female-botanists/reference?page=3
As I plant my seeds in my basement getting ready for spring it is nice to know about the women who fought and continue to fight for recognition of their work in helping us to understand the wild world of plants.
If you want a historical fictional look at women’s roles in plants here are two young adult novels that highlight this struggle:
- The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (published May 2015)
- The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller ( published March 8th, 2016)