It maybe a strange title but this is really the story of a rich young man and his passion for plants or rather one particular kind of plant. James Bateman was the grandson and son of rich industrialists who had made their money out of steam power, coal and iron. They owned mills and mines before moving into banks and land. All this meant James did not have to lift a finger to be, and stay, rich, and that he could indulge his love of plants.
His parents were keen gardeners at their home, Knypersley Hall in Staffordshire and even as a student at Oxford James was collecting and learning about plants. In particular he visited the nursery there of Thomas Fairburn who had been gardener to Joseph Banks. Fairburn introduced him to orchids:
“Of course, I fell in love at first sight, and as Mr. Fairburn asked only a guinea for his plant (high prices not yet in vogue), it soon changed hands and travelled with me to Knypersley, when the Christmas holidays began. I had caught my first orchid….”