- An American physician of Scottish descent, Alexander Garden (1730- 1791) successfully practiced medicine in Clarkston, South Carolina. However, his devotion to his hobby—botany—accounted for much of his daily interests. He corresponded regularly with European naturalists, including Linnaeus, who honored him by naming the gardenia, a waxy white and heavily fragrant flower, after him, even though Dr. Garden had not discovered the flower. The renowned botanist and scholar Richard Warner had introduced it into Europe in 1790 after his journey to the Cape of Good Hope. In any event, the gardenia has ever since been a popular corsage flower.Although Garden's granddaughter was named Gardenia, the good doctor never saw her because his son, Gardenia's father, joined the Revolutionary forces in their struggle against the British. Dr. Garden, completely devoted to the Crown, could not accept his son's disloyalty. After the colonists' success, Dr. Garden left America in 1783 for Britain, where he died in 1791. Legend has is that his grave was covered with gardenias. According to Willard R. Espy, after the gardenia was named for Dr. Garden, a local botanist, a Dr. Lewis Mottet, was so enraged that he announced that he too had discovered a flower. "And I, too, have named it," he said. "I've named it the lucia, after Lucy, my cook." But the lucia has never been heard of again, and neither was Lucy.The gardenia, according to William Morris, isn't any sort of garden flower, as its name might suggest. It's a shrub originally native to china.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.