Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who was Frederick Boyle?

I have been unable to find out anything about this person, who was born in 1841.  He was obviously a man of some means who later in life became an orchid maniac (we understand completely...)

Apparently, all that is left of his orchidmania are two lengthy articles he wrote on orchids that are available at Project Gutenberg.  The first, About Orchids: A Chat, was published in 1893.  The second, The Woodlands Orchids, was published in 1901.

I had a blast reading these pieces.  Five things in general stand out.  First, Mr. Boyle had a greenhouse  and he loved his orchids - the greenhouses and collections described in The Woodland Orchids were owned by an acquaintance of his, one Mr. Measures.  Second, many wonderful plants collected in the jungles during the 19th century are now gone forever, as the clones have been lost and the plants almost extinguished in the wild for several species.  Third, there are some great stories of orchid collecting trips.  Fourth, the pieces are written in a wonderful chatty style - the author assumes you will find his tales to be most entertaining (which I did).  Finally, the racism common in that era comes through in the discussions of indigenous peoples.

Orchid fanatics will enjoy these works.

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