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Is botany the study of plant life or the study of plants? That is the question that I ask myself, the question that keeps me up at night. Should botanists be studying the fundamental theories and mechanisms, the universal components, as they do? or should botanists be studying individual plants and applications, the practical aspect? This is what I hope to find out for myself in my studies, and Garden Guides has greatly helped me in this. Though I am but an amateur gardener, I have nonetheless undertaken an effort to achieve both the study of individuals and the mechanisms that are universally present in the hopes that I might better understand what a "plant" truly is.
As I said, I am an amateur gardener, and I indeed have much more experience with the abstract sciences than with the art of gardening; indeed, the study of plants on the basic level has more weight in my mind than do the abstract sciences. This I mean sincerely, for the traditions of gardening have made civilization possible for six thousand years, while the abstract sciences are trifles in comparison. What would astronomy be if farmers had never devised celestial calendar cycles? What would society be if farmers did not feed us? What would Rome have been if they had not been so ruthless in their agricultural policies? How would Hippocrates and Galen have treated so many of their patients without the aid of their herbs? How is it that so many of us ignore what lies the frontier beneath our feet?
I have begun my studies with the observation of weeds. I find great satisfaction in recording my observations of some wild weed species, conjecturing hypotheses as to why my observations are so, and proving with evidence and accuracy models of botanical phenomena. My method has many precedents, but first and foremost is perhaps my idol in all the history of science, Jean-Martin Charcot ( 1825-1893), the father of modern neurology.
Most unfortunately, Charcot's name is surrounded with misunderstanding and disgust. Many criticized him for cruel treatments, for which he is most often remembered today, such as suspension therapy and dangerous hydrotherapy. However, we must remember that Charcot was not purposeless in doing so, he was experimental not mindless. His great effort and detailed studies allowed him to identify diseases with precision and clarity not known until the twentieth century. I learned much from his exemplary studies, which I will not discuss in detail here.
My other scientific influences include Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, Ptolemy, and Carl Linnaeus.
I keep do keep a notebook now and I write down my observations and inductions on its pages, but I plan on meticulously re-writing its contents in a more formal book outline, describing in detail my observations of and theories on plants in general and individual species. What I find myself doing often is re-inventing the wheel of conventions in botany; for example, I do not use scientific names in my notebook as a rule. I find myself at