It was on Saturday 22nd April 1662 that John Tradescant the younger – arguably the most influential gardener of the first half of the 17th century – died.
An East Anglian by birth he became a major force in the early 17th century gardens – described by many as a ‘painful industrious searcher and lover of all nature’s varieties’. He became financially involved in the ‘Virginian trade’ and had many new plant species brought over from America. One was a plant known as ‘spiderwort’. It was later given the ‘technical’ name of Tradescantia virginiana.
In 1618 he visited Russia as a group’s naturalist. The trip was less than successful than expected for everyone except Tradescant who returned with a load of plants – the first major ‘shipment’ of Russian flora into England. Two years later he risked pirate attacks when he landed on the Algerian coast as a gentleman adventurer but he brought back Apricots and Gladiolus byzantinus – the ‘Corn flag of Constantinople’.
By 1630 he was gardener to King Charles I. In his later years he specialized in fruit; his garden list included 57 kinds of plums, 49 kinds of apples, 49 of pears, 24 of cherries, 10 of vines, 9 of nectarines and 8 of apricots. For anyone/everyone keen and/or involved in gardening – give thanks to John Tradescant who passed away on this day in 1662.