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Alexander Garden, M.D.
1730 - 1790

Outstanding Early American Naturalist,
Gardenia Was Named for Him

Alexander Garden was one of early America's great naturalists. The gardenia was named for him. Isolated in colonial America, mainly South Carolina, Garden was not taken seriously at first by the leading naturalists of his time in Europe. These included the great Swedish contemporary Carl Linnaeus. ■ Alexander Garden was born in Aberdeenshire in 1730, the son of a Presbyterian minister. He received a degree in medicine in 1753 from the University of Aberdeen. He also attended the University of Edinburgh where he studied mathematics, languages, moral philosophy, and natural sciences. He emigrated to South Carolina where he gave notable service during the small pox epidemic of 1760. However, his interest in natural sciences, particularly the fauna and flora of South Carolina, distracted him from the practice of medicine. ■ He traveled north to see other American naturalists and compare notes. Some were impressed and advised him to write to Linnaeus, with whom he eventually carried on a voluminous correspondence. Dr. Garden sent large quantities of plant and animal specimens to his friends in both Europe and America, accompanied by copious notes on his observations. Dr. Garden made many discoveries that eventually brought him a number of European honors. ■ What hurt his reputation most with early America was his siding with the Royalists when the American Revolution broke out. The Colonial government banished him from America and confiscated his large estate. Dr. Garden fled to England where he died on April 15, 1790. ■ It is interesting to note that his son Alexander, who was graduated from the University of Glasgow, rejected his father's advice and sided with the Americans.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546