Hortus uptonensis; or, a catalogue of stove and green-house plants in Dr. Fothergill's garden at Upton, at the time of his decease,
John Ellis’s book had a remarkable impact in the years that followed its publication. Soon after, John Coakley Lettsom (1744–1815) published “Directions for bringing over seeds and plants from distant countries.” Although most of Lettsom’s directions are identical to Ellis’s, Lettsom does add some innovations. For example, he suggests that jars of seeds wrapped in paper should be filled with grains such as rice, millet, or ground corn. It is not clear whether this is intended to provide packing or to serve as a decoy for insects. Lettsom also recommends mixing pieces of broken glass with the earth in which seeds are sown to prevent mice and rats from burrowing in the soil. Lettsom’s plant transportation box is slightly larger than Ellis’s and includes hoops over the top of the box so that canvas can be draped over the plants on windy days when there is too much salt spray in the air.
Both Lettsom and Ellis encourage trial and error to arrive at the right procedures for planting and growing vegetation aboard ships. Plants often arrived in England dead or in poor condition. During the eighteenth century, Kew gardens had special hothouse areas reserved for nursing sickly plants back to health after long sea voyages.
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