From earliest childhood, he had learned and read extensively about plants and the botanical discoveries of explorers, such as Joseph Banks and Alexander von Humbolt – he particularly admired the latter’s books and re-read them several times.2 He did not study botany in any formal sense while at Cambridge, but he had forged an exceptionally close relationship with the Professor of Botany. A er leaving the university, he had studied the plants of South America during the voyage of the Beagle and when he settled with Emma at Down House he immediately began to use his garden and greenhouse to make extensive observations on botanical phenomena as diverse as mechanisms of pollination and the dynamics of seedling establishment. As this and the next chapter will demonstrate, Charles’s comments were, for once in his life, intended to mislead. By the standards of the day he had received a sound education in classical, or descriptive, botany. Moreover, his education was continually updated thanks to his friendship with Hooker, Gray, and others who more readily admitted their botanical expertise.