Specialist collections

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 17 Dec 2005 09:29:19 PST
(Apologies if you're also on Alpine-L and got this twice.)

I'm beginning to collect information on the subject of private specialist 
plant collections for a planned book on this area, or subdiscipline, of 
gardening. I would appreciate your thoughts on the following questions. I 
assure you that I will not quote any persons in print without their express 
permission and approval of the text.

1. Can you suggest interesting collections of a single genus or family, 
gathered and maintained by an individual or household, whose proprietors I 
can interview, correspond with, and/or visit about their work?

2. Why do you think individuals (as opposed to institutions such as 
botanical gardens) create serious collections of particular kinds of 
plants? What motivates them?

3. If you are a collector yourself, what kinds of information do you think 
are important for others beginning to build collections?

4. What are some ways that a notable collection can be perpetuated when the 
individual who keeps it is no longer able to do so? Do you know of examples 
where collections have been successfully bequeathed, distributed, or 
otherwise preserved (e.g., the conifer collection in the National Arboretum 
in Washington, DC)?

5. How are private collections valuable to science and environmental 
conservation? Do ethical collectors outnumber "orchid thieves"? Do you know 
of instances in which material from private collections has been used in 
habitat restoration?

This is just a beginning, but I think I can eventually write a readable and 
helpful book on this topic. Thank you for your thoughts!

Jane McGary
Editor, NARGS

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