Were These Just Pretty Pictures?
Published on May 23rd, 2019 by Judy Thomas
A blog series by Plants of the James River Project
Okay, so I have established that Newton Ancarrow was very angry about the pollution in the James River and the effect on his boat building business. And you know that, while looking for sources of pollution, he came across wildflowers. Ancarrow eventually took 35,000 slides of wildflowers, 350 of which were generously digitized and are available on the Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archives, thanks to an agreement between VCU Libraries and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden:
So what did Ancarrow do with these slides? He developed a wildflower slide show and started giving talks around the state to garden clubs, environmental organizations, wildlife associations, and anyone who would have him. I’m guessing that his thinking went like this: if he angered the garden clubs and other organizations about the polluted James and threats to these plants, he might just get some traction in regards to environmental legislation.
The slides are a beautiful testament to Ancarrow’s work. They represent a census of native and invasive plants at the James River Park System and have indeed been used to evaluate the impact of invasive plants on this landscape. Many of the native plants are still there, though in reduced numbers, as invasive species encroach upon them.
So, what effect did Ancarrow have? I’ll answer that question in Blog 5.