Liberty Hyde Bailey - A Man for All Seasons

Liberty Hyde Bailey worked to remove the barriers between theoretical botany and practical horticulture. He believed that horticulture should be an applied science based on pure biology, and that it should reflect the application of basic botanical knowledge. As early as 1885, in a speech titled ìThe Garden Fence,î Bailey urged botanists and horticulturists to reconcile their interests by ìgetting the science from the field and laboratory into the garden. î At Michigan, he served as chair of horticulture and convinced the State Legislature to appropriate funds for a horticulture building. He had already written a number of articles, and in 1885, he published his first book, Talks Afield: About Plants and the Science of Plants.

In 1888, Bailey joined Isaac P. Roberts at Cornell to create an outstanding team for teaching, research, and dissemination of knowledge about agriculture. He continued his own inspired teaching and pioneering experiments. In 1892 he published the first American book on controlled experimental breeding, Cross Breeding and Hybridizing, which cited the work of Gregor Mendel. As an experimentalist, Bailey made controlled crosses and kept accurate records. He also published the first detailed study of the growth of plants under artificial electric light in 1893; showed that the growth of greenhouse plants could be increased by raising the carbon dioxide content of the air; and studied the physiology of seed germination and its relation to the quality of commercial seed packets.

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