Excerpts from on the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases Ward, Nathaniel B. (1852)

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Excerpts from on the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases
Nathaniel B. Ward (1852)

URL: http://www.fortunecity.com/greenfield/clearstreets/84/ward/discover.htm

SITE SUMMARY: This document (an excerpt from a book with this title) provides Ward's detailed description of an incident that led to his accidental discovery in 1829 of what was first called a Wardian Case and is now known as a terrarium. Ward, a British medical doctor who had a lifelong avocational interest in plant biology, served as examiner of botany for the Society of Apothecaries and was involved with the Society's Chelsea Physic Garden of Medicinal Plants. Notes by David Hershey, that follow the excerpts, explain scientific words that Ward mentioned, Ward's continuing studies based on his discovery, the involvement of the Companion to the Botanical Magazine, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Linnean Society, the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Royal Society, and the noted scientist Michael Faraday.


  1. "In consequence of" what, and whom, did "the science of botany" become Ward's "recreation from [his] youth up"? Explain and give examples of why you think Ward's interest was sparked by these influences. (For hints and data see these Web sites: Linnean Society of London, Project Linnaeus, Linnean System of Nomenclature and History of Horticulture. [Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section of this book's chapter on The Linnean Correspondence.])
  2. Which two botanical items or plants were major parts of Ward's "earliest ambition"? Why did all his attempts to keep these plants prove to be fruitless? (Hint: The cause still exists today, more intensely.) Describe how the problem referred to in above affects plants today.
  3. What incident happened in the summer of 1829 that caused Ward to accidentally discover what became known as Ward's Case or a Wardian Case? Name three botanical items and one atmospheric feature involved.
  4. How did Ward answer the following, his own, question, with reference to "that very tribe of plants" he had "for years fruitlessly attempted to cultivate"; and what were "the conditions necessary for its well-being"? Next, answer his question while applying it to a plant of your choice and while considering it as part of your own terrarium. Write on features of a terrarium, then make a terrarium of your choice. (For help with the second and third activities just above, see the Web sites: Plants and Youth—Designing and Building a Terrarium, Gardening Fact Sheets—Terrariums, Terrariums—Miniature Worlds in A Bottle, Terrariums—Landscapes in Miniature, and A Terrarium Resource Guide [especially its Magic Terrarium—Planting and Care, and Terrarium Q's and A's]. Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.)
  5. See Transporting Plants via the Nathaniel Ward's Terrarium Page. (Its url is in cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) What was a special use that came about for Wardian Cases? What was Dr. Ward's part in it? Why is it not still used today?
  6. See Ward's Biography via the Nathaniel Ward's Terrarium Page (whose url is cited as noted in Question/Activity no. 5 above.) Note, according to this biography, Ward's father, a doctor, sent the thirteen-year-old Nathaniel on a trip to deter him from his plan to become a sailor when he grew up. His father succeeded, with Ward agreeing to become his father's apprentice, then taking over his father's medical practice. On the trip, however, young Nathaniel became acquainted with some unusual plants, which led to his lifelong interest in botanical science; especially as an avocation (hobby) and as part of his profession. Think of a place where you might go and what you would experience there which might cause you to choose some-thing related to it as your future profession, and/or avocation; especially one involving botany; or another natural science, or another science. Describe the place, noting something botanical, natural, or something else scientific. Give reasons for your choice.
  7. See Ward's Biography (found as stated in Question/Activity no. 6 above). State the name of the plant that was named after Dr. Ward. Choose a plant. (Find plants, noting general names, at these Web sites: Terrariums—Miniature Worlds in a Bottle, or Plants and Youth: Designing and Building A Terrarium. [Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.]) Give a name to a particular kind of your chosen plant. (For help naming the plant, see Rules for Naming Plants, at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden Online. [Its url is cited in the Related Internet Sites section of this book's chapter featuring the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.])


Nathaniel Ward's Terrarium Page


See a portrait of Dr. Ward and an 1852 illustration of a Wardian Case. There are also links to a Biography of Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791–1868), Transporting Plants, Other Uses, List of Literature Citations, 1970's Terrarium Craze, Accidental Discovery, Multiple Discovery, Important Botanists and Botanical Events of Ward's Era, and Teaching Suggestions.

Gardening Fact Sheets—Terrariums


At this site, the Ontario Gardening Education and Information Centre provides information on making terrariums with woodland, tropical, or desert plants and environments. It also notes how terrariums work, and their advantages.

Terrariums—Miniature Worlds in a Bottle


This page is one of the Green Pages, a "virtual garden shed" that is "full of tools" and connects visitors to "an abundant harvest of information on many different aspects of horticulture and botany." It is provided by the Montreal, Canada, Botanical Garden, and has a detailed description of terrariums, and links to information on containers, materials, preparation, choosing plants, planting, maintenance, and additional information. It is also accessible by clicking Terrariums in the pull-down menu under "In the Green Pages" at http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin/en/biblio/carnet.htm.

Creating and Maintaining Terrariums—Landscapes in Miniature


A Terrarium Resource Guide—from Terrarium Builders Guild


This guide provides suggestions on which plants to choose to make terrariums and how to set up, care for, and maintain terrariums. Click especially links to Terrarium Q's & A's; and Terrarium Care (also known as The Magic Terrarium—Planting and Care). See also the link to A Little Bit of History.

Terrariums—A "Get Growing Gardening Tip"


The associate director of the Devonian Botanic Garden in Edmonton, Canada, Dr. Michael Hickman, provides this tip, one of the tips featured at the Garden's Web site. He introduces the tip with information about Dr. Ward and the Wardian Case.

Plants and Youth: Designing and Building a Terrarium


This fact sheet contains a chart of plants for terrariums, plus definitions of terms, a definition of a terrarium, and instructions for making a terrarium. It is provided by Kathleen C. Ruppert and Robert D. Black of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

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Excerpts from on the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases Ward, Nathaniel B. (1852)

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Excerpts from on the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases Ward, Nathaniel B. (1852)