I have enjoyed looking at plants in the wild in various countries, but especially in Japan. Consequently, I get a vicarious delight from reading about the adventures of plant hunters in various parts of the world. Books, by, or about such famous names as George Forrest and Ernest Wilson are invariably absorbing, but there are many "lesser" names whose plant hunting forays have made significant contributions to our gardens. I have enjoyed writing historical reviews of some of these, and two published ones are presented here.
Albania is still relatively little-known in the rest of the world, and the same is true of its flora and fauna. In the course of two brief visits to the country in 1990, I made the acquaintance of a local botanist who proved to be an excellent guide. Some years later, we co-wrote a piece summarizing the exploration of the country and its plants.
Japan has been a long-standing interest of mine, and I read avidly whatever I can find on the country. The work of the early plant collectors there, such as Thunberg and von Siebold, has been well-documented by, for example, the late Professor Stearn. Curiously, however, relatively little has been published on the development of plant exploration in Japan once the country became more accessible to foreigners after the middle of the 19th century.