Friday Fictioneers: His fortune in a globe

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Joseph made it a habit to check the flower bulb hidden in the inner pocket of his coat each day, even when the sea was craggy with waves, or the crew limp as windless sails in the overheated air. And every day of the eight weeks it took to reach Portsmouth, the globe remained hard as a pebble, the papery skin sweet smelling.

As his hammock swung in the humid crack of darkness below deck, he imagined the fortune he could charge the plant collectors at Kew, the dresses he would buy Mary, the house he could leave his son.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in.

I saw Josh’s lovely image and thought of all the plant collectors through history who often risked their lives on long sea voyages to find unusual and unclassified plant specimens and take them home.

Sometimes these adventurers would return to fame and fortune, like Joseph Banks or the tulip bulb collectors in 17th century Netherlands.

I wonder if my Joseph will experience success or failure.

NB – Kew is Kew Gardens in London, one of the most prestigious botanic gardens in the world since it was founded in 1759.

34 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: His fortune in a globe

  1. Wonderfully written story, Lynn. Like Neil said: scrumptious sensory details!
    I am having a total brain fart on the name of the book where one of the characters was a plant collector… It’ll come to me. Maybe.

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  2. The plant collectors… oh what brave folk they were. I wonder how many people think of that when they’re admiring rhododendrons and azaleas, tulips, and the any number of bamboo varieties… to name those that immediately come to mind.

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    1. It’s true, many of our garden standards are very far from indigenous. Not always a good thing, as you know, as many incomer plants are invasive. But we’re lucky we can have a variety of flowers growing here. Makes our gardens all the more lovely. Thanks for reading, Crispina

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know about this bit of history. But when I think about it . . . of course, that’s how zoos begun. Why not botanical gardens? I like the way you inserted your character into this bit of history.

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    1. Thanks so much, glad you liked it. And they were intrepid souls. Not always a good idea to introduce a foreign species into an existing ecosystem, but I guess they didn’t know that at the time. Thanks so much for reading and for your kind comment

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked the descriptions, particularly “even when the sea was craggy with waves, or the crew limp as windless sails in the overheated air”. Joseph Banks had a terrific CV! Did you know about him from your work with flowers?

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    1. Thanks so much Penny. Really glad you liked the descriptions. I did hear of Banks through flowers, yes . He was a pretty extraordinary person. The Banksia protea is named after him as he was the first person to collect the seeds and return them to the UK. I know, the indigenous people would have ‘discovered’ banksia thousands of years before, but that was how things worked back then – it didn’t count until a westerner found it. Thank you so much for the kind comment and for reading

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  5. I love the subject of Victorian plant collectors, and your atmospheric story about Joseph brings the enterprise so vividly to life. You create the sense of venturing into the unknown so well.

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  6. What about the beetles and insects pest that he has brought along? What did he have – Japanese Knotweed. A moment of historical fact since in Joseph’s time scientific interest was blooming.

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    1. Very true, though of course Joseph and his fellow plant collectors had no idea of the havoc that could be caused by introducing an alien species into an environment. They only learned these things by bitter experience

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A great story with wonderful detail and adventure. I feel torn between admiration and wanting to be a botanist on Cook’s expeditions (I know, no women), and disliking the imperialist mindset behind it all.

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    1. Yes, me too. Funny how powerful white men bulldozed through history, putting their names to things that had been known by indigenous people for thousands of years. It’s as if it only existed when a westerner found it. Thanks for reading, Gabi

      Liked by 1 person

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