It is probably tradescantia ohiensis, which I see in Northwest
Arkansas a lot. There are two or three different tradescantias that
grow in the area though. If this was in Northeast Arkansas it might
have been tradescantia subaspara, I do not belive it grows in the
Definately tradescantia, name for John Tradescant (the younger) who
discovered the plant on an expedition to the Virginia colony.
The John Tradescants
Both the Tradescants became famous in their own time. They were gardeners to
royalty, collectors of curiosities, travellers and importers of exotic
plants. The John Tradescants are buried in the church yard of
St-Mary-at-Lambeth which is now the Museum of Garden History, along with the
grandson of the same name, who died aged nineteen. The knot garden at the
museum is in the style of the Tradescants' time.
To be 'curious' was a compliment in Elizabethan/Jacobean times and both
Tradescants became famous for gardening, design, travel and their collection
of curiosities. The epitaph on their tombstone describes very well why they
became well known, and the interest there is today in their activities. This
can be read today on their tomb at the museum.
The Elder John Tradescant first travelled after 1609 when he entered the
service of Robert Cecil who became the first Earl of Salisbury. He visited
Europe to bring back plants and trees including roses, fritillaries and
mulberries to the gardens at Hatfield. Later, in the service of Sir Edward
Wotton, Tradescant accompanied a diplomatic mission to Russia, and he also
visited Algiers, always taking botanical notes and gathering plants. By the
1620's Tradescant had achieved a prominent position as a director of gardens
whose advice was sought by the highest in the land.
In 1626 Tradescant leased a house in Lambeth where he developed his own
garden and a cabinet of curiosities where he displayed 'all things strange
and rare' that he brought back from his travels. The original is in the
Ashmolean, and a copy is on display in the museum. Tradescant's home came to
be called the 'Ark' and was an essential site to see in London at the time
as more was being learnt about the world and different cultures. It was the
first museum of its kind in Britain open to the public, charging 6d
John Tradescant the Younger travelled even further afield than his father,
visiting Virginia three times. He introduced the Tulip tree and a Yucca
plant, and also increased the collection at the Ark with artifacts from
America - these included the mantle of Powhattan, the father of Pocahontas.
The younger John Tradescant also succeeded his father as royal gardener. At
the suggestion of Elias Ashmole, he began to catalogue the collection at the
Ark, and the Musaeum Tradescantianum of 1656 was the first museum catalogue
Tradescant willed that the collection was to go to his widow on his death
but Elias Ashmole obtained the collection by deed of gift and established
the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford with the collection. Some of these original
items can still be seen in that museum and Ashmole is also buried at the
Museum of Garden History. The tomb of the Tradescants stands beside the knot
garden near that of Captain Bligh of the Bounty, and is covered in carvings
representing their interests in life which marked them out as curious men.
email@example.com (Jack B.) wrote in message
Thanks to all who responded. After a little research, it must be a
variety of Transcandia (spider wort). It looks a lot like Agapanthus,
but Agapanthus wouldn't be found growing native in the rocky highlands
of northern Arkansas. Almost wish I'd dug one up and brought home
from my hiking trip!
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