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From The Mountains To The Garden: The Domestication of Garden Plants in China

A symposium at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

February 16, 2019 8:30am to 4:30pm

To artfully recreate nature in the confined space of the garden, Chinese horticulturalists have long engaged in the domestication of plants—from pines and ginkgos to chrysanthemums, peonies, lotuses, and more. Many garden plants have been domesticated relatively recently, deliberately cultivated to accentuate desired characteristics such as blooms, leaves, and size. This symposium will investigate the history of garden plant domestication. Topics will include horticultural techniques; the origins and distribution of important species; and the knowledge to be gained from sources ranging from literary records to DNA analysis.

8:30 a.m. Registration & Coffee
Phillip E. Bloom, June and Simon K.C. Li Curator of the Chinese Garden and Director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies, The Huntington
Nicholas Menzies, Research Fellow, Center for East Asian Garden Studies, The Huntington
9:30 a.m. Keyote Address
The Domestication of Plants: Insight into Chinese Gardens—From the Wild to the Garden
Georges Métailié, Honorary Director of Research,
National Center for Scientific Research, Paris
What is Domestication?
Moderator: Georges Métailié, Honorary Director of Research, National Center for Scientific Research, Paris
10:20 a.m. The Resurrection of Ginkgo: Cultural Co-option and the Multiple Values of Trees
Sir Peter Crane, President, Oak Spring Garden
Foundation, Virginia
11:05 a.m. Love of Nelumbo nucifera (蓮 Lian), Sacred Lotus: From the Mountains to the Gardens
J. Shen-Miller, Plant Biologist and Senior Scientist, Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life, Department of Earth, Planetary, Space Sciences, UCLA
11:35 a.m. A Centurial Domestication of Kiwifruit: From a Wild Plant of Actinidia to the Worldwide Orchard Production of Kiwifruit
Hongwen Huang, Professor, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences
12:05 p.m. Session discussion
12:35 p.m. Lunch
The Process of Domestication: Selection, Breeding and
Moderator: Fa-ti Fan, Associate Professor, History
Department, State University of New York at Binghamton
2:10 p.m. Bringing Ornamentals from the Mountains to Your
Garden: Plant Hunters, Botanists, and Botanical Gardens
Bill McNamara, President and Executive Director, Quarryhill Botanical Garden
2:40 p.m. Changing Names for the Camellia in Chinese History
Zhonglang Wang, Kunming Institute of Botany,
Chinese Academy of Science
3:25 p.m. The King of Flowers in the Flower Kingdom:
The Domestication of Tree Peonies and Their Influence on the Chinese Culture of Flowers
Dr. Yong-Hong Hu, Executive Director, Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden
3:55 p.m. Session discussion
4:25 p.m. Closing panel

This symposium is made possible by generous support from the Sammy Yukuan Lee Family, the Eva and Loran Whitelock Trust, and the Justin Vajna Memorial Fund for Educational Programs in the Chinese Garden.

Registration (General) $15.00
Registration and Lunch $33.00
Registration (Student) Free
Lunch only (for Students) $18.00
Registration and lunch are by reservation only. or 800-838-3006
Registration closes Feb. 7, 2019.
For questions or vegetarian lunch, please contact:
Michelle Bailey,, 626-405-3503