The Revolutionary Gardens of Imagism

On February 8, 1912, Canadian activist Gertrude Harding orchestrated a protest in the form of a midnight destruction of rare orchids in Kew Gardens.[1] Since the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew operated as a central node in Britain’s colonial network, a “depot for the interchange of plants wherever it saw commercial possibilities,” Harding’s targeted liberation of colonial subjects struck at the deceptively ornamental center of English power.[2] Acting in the name of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), Harding delivered a message: cultivated orchids would no longer be complicit in England’s botanic imperial schemes.