Jacob Bobart was Oxford University Garden’s first curator, complete with painted silver beard and pet goat. Apparently the beard amused garden visitors; as for the goat…..?
Bobart the Elder (his son, Bobart the Younger, succeeded him) planted the oldest tree in the Oxford garden in 1645, an English Yew. The garden was at the time a physic garden, so it’s interesting that yew was not planted for its medicinal properties then, but now provides raw materials for two cancer drugs.
The timing of Bobart’s tenure was not favourable for him – the English Civil War broke out soon after his appointment: no pay for seven years! He ‘made do’ by selling fruit he grew, including medlar (Mespilus germanica) which is listed in the Garden’s 1968 first catalogue of plants.
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