Dan Hinkley Gushes in Latin


The plant world has been abuzz over this NOVA series, "The First Flower."  I haven’t had a chance to see it yet; if you haven’t either, this will give you a taste.  Plant explorer Dan Hinkley once again gets to have all the fun, this time on the road in China with botanist Yin Kaipu.  So would it be totally intimidating to hang out with somebody who could scramble up a hill shouting out botanical nomenclature, or just really, really fun?


  1. I saw it, and am I the only one who was vaguely squicked out by Hinkley’s near-sexual frenzy over the plants? Uh, ick.

  2. Did see it. Especially liked the part when he arrives by motor vehicle in a part of china where he can climb out of the car and find just about every exotic plant you’ve ever seen in your local nursery or in the Wayside Garden catalogue.

  3. Meanwhile, folks in China are upset that they can’t get dandelions to grow.

    When i was a kid, my father and I used to attend the Philadelphia flower show. Among other exotics I purchased were Lantana, which would always end up dead. Imagine my surprise when, years later, I visited South India and saw hillsides covered in Lantana.

  4. The real secret came right at the end . . . Yak Dung.

    I suggest we form a “Yak Dung import” business, and we will all have gardens like this . . . except for the little problem of 14,000ft elevation.

  5. I saw the show, too – and found their geeky enthusiasm both fun and catching. It was very cool to share their excitement at finding so many interesting plants near the highway.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Gee, and here I was thinking all that enthusiasm was kind of, well, sexy …

    The show is great, by the way. Of course, I’ll watch just about anything on NOVA — still, a nice bonus when it’s botanical.

  7. It would just be really, really fun. These guys are nuts in the best of ways. I’ve served on a global biodiversity review panel (for grants) and I love the panel because everyone there is just so crazy-passionate…and the latin names just fly. I haven’t seen the NOVA series, but I sure need to.

  8. crumbs,
    missed the show but totally enjoyed the YouTube teaser clip.

    I would gladly sit in yak dung any day of the week to be able to explore the far outer reaches of the earth on horticultural expeditions with Hinkley or any of the other exciteable plant explorers.

    Themz are my kinda people !
    Yeee ha !

  9. I did actually see the show and I do really love all of Dan Hinkley’s books and own several but I have to say that during the show, I fell asleep. I guess I was tired from gardening. Well worth watching though and I will try to see it again.

  10. Actually, the book’s been written and it’s called Beautiful Madness, One Man’s Journey Through Other People’s Gardens by James Dodson…I’m reading it now. It’s quite entertaining…sports writing meets garden writing! He hangs with Tony Avent, et al…and btw, says Tony calls it a “hortgasm”!

  11. Those of you who think it would be fun to hang out with someone like Dan Hinckley, have I got a trip for you! Two days ago I picked up a brochure for the New England Wild Flower Society’s “Backroads China” tour planned for spring 2008. It will be led by Ted Elliman, who works in the Society’s Conservation Department and has a lot of experience in China (speaks Chinese as well). I have been thinking seriously about it ever since. (I just retired so I can get away for 3 weeks. Whether I can afford it is another question, but it would really be the plant trip of a lifetime.) More information is here: http://newfs.org/courses/s-s-07-bot.pdf (scroll down to the very last page, where it gives a little info and a number to call to get a full brochure.)

  12. I’ve watched this twice now, and love it. Someone at work, who doesn’t garden, also saw it and said it best, “how neat and inspiring it was to see people so passionate and excited about what they do”. We need more of that passion in this world.

  13. Before watching that clip, I’d have said I didn’t have much interest in Chinese wildflowers — boy was I wrong. I was fascinated by the similarities to several wildflowers from my own area. And was thrilled to recognize a *few* of those more common Latin names.

    I’m a truly sad case — I get that excited when I find something that’s new to me in my own county. 🙂

  14. Have to concur with Martha et al—i.e. growing just a wee bit weary of Dan’s paroxysms of plant
    I mean, it’s great, it’s wonderful, we share your delight,
    love you for your amazing knowledge and experience, but..
    enough already Must every plant description be measured in non-stop breathless reverence?

    I used to chalk this all up to
    exuberance/enthusiasm, but more and
    more it strikes me as excess helium
    of junior high cheerleader corps. Credibility wains when its full
    volume, nonstop.

    Jeez, I think I’m getting old!
    (more to do with me than DH)

  15. I absolutely hate reading Dan Hinkley. I have tried to enjoy reading his books, honestly I have. I was saddened at first by George Balls’ treatment of Heronswood, but then who really is to blame? Who sold out their customers? Now he is working for Monrovia?! I wonder if the country of origin of his plant finds gets any money for his ‘discovery’.

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