A portrait of the Dawson family taken on Labor Day weekend, 1901
Photograph by William Francis Dawson (1868-1939, American)
Jamaica Plain, MA
Jackson Thornton Dawson (1841-1916), the first plant propagator and superintendent of the Arnold Arboretum, served 43 years and played a significant role in the growth of the Arboretum as a world-class institution.
Dawson was a horticulturist of exceptional ability, and it was said only half in jest, that he could coax life from a dead stick. During his work as Plant Propagator for the Arnold Arboretum, Dawson lived and raised his family in the white frame house at 1090 Centre Street [pictured here]. At this location he also maintained the Arboretum’s propagation facilities, including a greenhouse and outdoor nursery. All of the seeds and cuttings sent by Arboretum collectors in this period, including Ernest Wilson, William Purdom, and John Jack, were raised here. In total he raised 450,718 plants and distributed 47,993 seed packets during his 43 years as Arboretum Propagator.
Connor Geary, Sheila and Hutchinson, B. June. “Mr. Dawson, Plantsman.” Arnoldia 40(2), March/April 1980 [pdf].
Pearson, Lisa. “Dawson Medals Come to the Arboretum Archives.” Library Leaves, Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library, May 18, 2015.
Whitacre, Benjamin. “Filing A Missing Rose Claim: Jackson Dawson and the Arnold Rose.” Arnoldia 73(1), 2015 [pdf].
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