Well, according to the FT Magazine article, Defining Moment – Japanese knotweed invades Britain, he was the person responsible for introducing Japanese knotweed to the British Isles, way back on 9 August 1850.
Mind you, he also got up to some fairly dodgy dealings in its native Japan. Perhaps as some sort of atonement he then gave them the piano, but I think he was dead before the magnitude of introducing one of Britain’s most pernicious weeds was realised.
This Dorset gardener has given up because he needed to keep stopping for a breather every 10 minutes.
I know how he feels.
The only difference is that he’s done it at the grand old age of 104, over two and a half times my age! And when you see the wonderful video clip on this page you’ll see he’s actually continuing in his own garden, albeit with the help of his daughter.
What brings it home is that if I manage to last as long as him, then I’ll retire in another 26 years, and then have 39 more years of gardening ahead of me. I can assure you though that, unlike him, I’ll certainly be taking my fair share of holidays; he’s never had one in his whole life!
I have written before about the joys of common names of plants, but the piece Losing something in translation? really does seem to have captured some of the more bizarre stories of how sometimes the most common of plants have acquired their assortment of vernacular names around the globe.
I for one did know that the Jerusalem artichoke was neither an artichoke, nor from Jerusalem, and that brinjal was a term for an aubergine, but even though I had stopped momentarily to wonder why I had never taken the trouble to satisfy my curiosity.
I do wonder though how this information has been preserved over time, or whether, like the names themselves, it has been passed on with subtle changes along the way such that we will never know the true story?