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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   19 August 1873

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. [Bassett, Southampton.]

Aug 19th 1873

My dear Hooker

The next time you walk round the garden ask Mr Smith1 or any of yr best men what they think about injury from watering during Sunshine.

One of yr men viz Mr Payne at Abinger, who seems very acute, declares that you may water safely any plant out of doors in sunshine, & that you may do the same for plants under glass, if the sashes are opened.2 This seems to me very odd, but he seems positive on the point; & acts on it in raising splendid grapes. Another good gardener maintains that it is only cold water dripping often on the same point of a leaf that ever injures it.. I am utterly perplexed, but interested on the point. Give me what you learn when you come to Down3

yours affectly | Ch. Darwin

I shd like to hear what plants are believed to be most injured by being watered in sunshine, so that I might get such. I expect that I shall be utterly beaten, as on so many other points; but I intend to make a few experiments & observations.— I have already convinced myself that drops of water do not act as burning lenses.


John Smith was the curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
For George Payne’s observations, see the letters from T. H. Farrer, 12 August 1873 and 12 August [1873].
Hooker visited Down on 23 August 1873 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


Asks JDH to inquire of gardeners at Kew what they think about injury to plants from watering during sunshine. Wishes to experiment. He is already convinced that drops of water do not act as burning lenses.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Bassett Down letterhead
Source of text
DAR 94: 272–3
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9017,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21