“Francis Masson was the first plant collector officially sent out from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to obtain foreign plants to enrich Kew Gardens themselves and then the gardens of England. His finds included Amaryllis, Streptocarpus, Lobelia, Gladioli, Cinerarias, Agapanthus, the beautiful white Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), the dramatic Bird of Paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae), spectacular Proteas, Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia) and almost fifty different varieties of Pelargonium, which became valued plants in Victorian hothouses and gardens….
“Strictly speaking, Masson was not a botanist — at least, he did not have a formal botanical education. He rose through the ranks, starting out as a garden boy in Aberdeen, where he had been born (in 1741) and brought up, with only the most basic education. When he was in his early twenties, Masson moved south to London, where he obtained a job as under-gardener to his fellow Scot William Aiton in what was then still Princess Augusta’s Royal Garden. A forerunner of the hard-working ‘self-improvers’ that are often thought of as typical of the Victorian era, alongside his gardening duties Masson taught himself botany and became a skilled botanical artist while working at Kew….
“Gardeners and florists have much to remember Masson by. His introductions brighten gardens, houses, and parks today….
“The vibrant Amaryllis is named after Amaryllis, a beautiful shepherdess lauded in both classical and English pastoral poetry. Masson brought back Amaryllis disticha and Amaryllis belladonna.”
The third photo below is my favorite of this series. It was also the most difficult one to cast on a black background, because of the seven stems holding the flower petals up. But — imho! — it came out pretty good, I think.
Thanks for taking a look!