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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Carolus and the Clerk

This photo was taken in 1988, at the Chicago Botanical Garden in Glencoe. I haven't been there in some time, and don't know how it looks today, but back then my younger children loved the intricate details and large three-dimensional quality of this portrait of Carolus Linnaeus. On every visit, and there were many, we walked around it, trying to identify the individual leaves and flowers that were sculpted and blended together to form his image. Today, the 300th birth anniversary of Linnaeus is being celebrated not only in Sweden, but in the hearts of gardeners and scientists all over the world.

This day is also the birthday of a modern gardener, the wonderful, intricate and three-dimensional Hank the County Clerk - if you have a chance to read some of his essays on Linnaeus [make that essays that use Linnaeus as the jumping-off point for many thoughts!] you will be amazed. Here's a link to Linnaeus, Son of No Man.

Happy Birthday, Hank... and Carolus, we do not forget you.


  1. Linnaeus changed everything... he did it with such a beautiful poetic sense. It is good that the world remembers.

    As for me, you are very kind. I will go snap another photo this weekend so you might compare.

  2. The RHS monthly mag The Garden had an interesting article on Linnaeus...unfortunately not available online.

    The Smithsonian also had a tribute which is available online. "God created, Linnaeus organized." I love it! But will Linnaeus withstand DNA classification?

  3. m sinclair stevens... you raise interesting points. But my feeling is not just that Linnaeus organized, but that he organized an organizational system which can withstand change. His use of the binomial system (not his invention though) allows for change.

    And our capacity for thought is directly tied to how we organize ideas and concepts.

    Organization = Thought. Or vice versa.

    But let's face it, Linnaeus was was wrong A LOT. Heck, he divided the world into three "kingdoms" - Plant, Animal and MINERAL. His ideas of botanical classification based upon strictly sexual morphology were almost immediately (with a hundred years or so) invalidated. His structure has been endlessly modified. And yes, you are right: DNA analysis with "outflank" morphological classification. Everything is going to get shuffled.

    But then, it ALWAYS WILL.

    The greatness of Carolus is that 1) he set out to organize and did so... and the world will never be the same... and 2) he created (by virtue of his position at Upsalla and his friendships around the world) generations who would go farther than he did, learn more than he learned and begin looking at the entire universe in a new way. (Ethobotany is a Linnaean thing too.) I'm thinking of guys like Thunberg. Wow.

    The original Linnaean system will not survive DNA (but then again, it has not survived to this day... it is long gone.) But Linnaeus will survive in all of us, wether we know it or not.

    I think he may have been the most important scientist in the last 1000 years. Really.

    But I'm twisted.

    Thanks for the garden links.

  4. Annie: Nice tribute to the birthday boys!

  5. Annie, what a cool looking sculpture and a nice tribute.

  6. Annie, that statue is huge! I looked around the Web and found some more photos of it and was amazed by its size. What an amazing tribute to Linnaeus.

  7. as soon as i saw this photo, i recognized it! spent two years in chicago, much time happily at the botanic garden...as i recall this statue was to the left when you walked into the main entrance to the garden (and what a stunning garden it is).

    you have a wonderful and varied site.



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