I am researching banksias and indeed in past years have made banksia quilts, but I wanted to establish a french connection as I am again on my banksia journey. Specimens of Australian flora were sent back to France after expeditions of exploration in the late 1700's and early 1800's .Many years ago when I stayed at Chateau de Chassy Madame Tison asked me about banksias , if there were any early images of the flower, because of course the la Perouse Expidition arrived at Botany bay within a few days of Captain Phillip's arrival in 1788- that question has stayed in the back of my mind for quite some time!
La Perouse's expedition was published and there were 42 image plates made to illustrate the book- Imagine my absolute vegemite delight on finding these images today in the digitalised version of the book
d'Entrecasteaux also travelled to Australia to map the territory and bring back specimens. He died on the journey back and the ship was taken in custody by the British because it was amidst the revolution and war. It's precious cargo might have been destroyed- there were many floral specimens on board - except for the intervention of Sir Joseph Banks after whom of course the banksia is named. And of course Nicolas Baudin mapped Australia before Matthew Flinders- which is something I did not learn at school . Baudin was commissioned by Napoleon to chart and bring back samples but Baudin died on the journey back and when the ship returned to France there were many floral specimens on board as well as kangaroos and emus. It seems that many of the floral specimens ended up in Josephine's garden in Malmaison as well as the kangaroos and emus and there are two species of Australian tree planted on the island of Saint Helena where Napoleon was exiled, that still survive today . Of course now I am deeply desirous of acquiring this book:
So now I can map another banksia story!
But wait there is more- there is also a woman in this story of discovery- that of Rose de Freycinet whose letters to her friend and mother of her journey were published well after her death. She dressed as a man in order to accompany her husband on his commissioned journey and was one of the first women on such a journey of discovery. It is now also on the wish list!
A Woman of Courage: The Journal of Rose de Freycinet on Her Voyage Around ...
as no one seems to have it available.