“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” Captain James Cook.
“This is the most magnificent, balmy atmosphere in the world—ought to take dead men out of grave.” Mark Twain in Hawaii, Walter Francis Frear
The Philadelphia Flower Show’s presentation of Hawaii this week has called me from the history of my travels and resurrected me from the dead of winter. It is truly a balmy atmosphere.
It was on his third voyage of discovery that Captain Cook re-discovered and named the Sandwich Islands. This group of eight main islands in an archipelago spanning 1500 miles and several hundred assorted other islands and outcroppings is volcanic in nature. It sits in the midst of the earth’s largest geographic formation: The Pacific Ocean.
Cook was lucky to stumble on this tropical oasis—stuck as it is out in the middle of an ocean like a pin head surfacing in the folds of an Amish quilt. We’ve come to know these eight islands collectively as Hawaii.
I paid attention to Cook’s travels because he was brought to the sea by a pair of seafaring Quaker brothers in the south of England. They were traders and I made their acquaintance through my own traffic in plants. Cook rose easily and mightily in the ranks of the English Navy. His is a record of discovery unparalleled in the English-speaking world. He discovered as many worlds as I discovered plants. It was and still is quite an accomplishment.
This week, Cook’s islands were delivered to Philadelphia with their color, flavor, textures, temperatures, art and horticulture. What a spectacular tour-de-force of botanical splendor!
I post these pictures and include a photograph of the man responsible for capturing the images. He is my amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown.