CHARLES SPRAGUE SARGENT
to
BLANCHE TRASK
Three Letters of 1911

January 21, 1911

Dear Mrs. Trask:

I am very glad to get your letter of January 8th and I apologize for not having sooner answered it.

We find here in the herbarium only one specimen of your Lavatera from Santa Catalina but from San Clemente a specimen with much smaller leaves which may possibly represent a different species. I do not think you ever could have sent the two forms of from Santa Catalina, and if you have time this winter I wish you would dry us some good specimens of the two as really we haven't sufficient material here to form a proper idea of this species and its variation.

I am very sorry to hear that your home is being disturbed. Does this mean that you are going permanently to leave Avalon or are you going to have another abiding place there? I shall be lad to hear of what you see and find in the Sonoran Desert. Won't you write me from there.

You speak of your photographs, giving details of rare plants. Wouldn't it be possible for us to obtain for our photograph collection a set of these? we preserve such things heree and sooner or later they will come into use I am sure. Unless preserved in some such establishment as this photographs are very apt to go astray.

With kind regards, I am,

Faithfully yours,

C. S. Sargent

Mrs. Blanche Trask
Avalon, Santa Catalina
California

Library of the Arnold Arboretum
Harvard University
The Arborway
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130


February 10, 1911

Dear Mrs. Trask:

Many thanks for your last letter and for the fruits of Lavatera which have arrived safely. I wish you would make for us some good sized foliage, flowering and fruiting specimens of the two forms.

With regard to what you call the Yellow Holly, is this Prunus integrifolia, and why yellow? I confess that our early correspondence on this subject has escaped my memory. As you know, I described this insular Cherry as a species. Please write me fully about this and forgive my absent memory.

Faithfully yours,

C. S. Sargent

Mrs. Blanche Trask
Avalon, California

Library of the Arnold Arboretum
Harvard University
The Arborway
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130


March 2, 1911

Dear Mrs. Trask:

I acknowledge it was very forgetful of me but I hope your good nature will cause you to forgive this slip of memory.

We have the yellow-fruited specimens of Heteromeles all right in the herbarium and I have notes about them. I do not think that this color of the fruit is a specific and hardly a varietal character for, as you know, in the Rosaceae plants which bear red fruit generally, occasionally bear yellow fruit, also as in some species of Crataegus, Malus, etc.

I am very glad that you are enjoying the desert and I wish I was there to enjoy it with you. Let me hear from you again soon. I beg.

Faithfully yours,

C. S. Sargent

Mrs. Blanche Trask
Indio, California

Library of the Arnold Arboretum
Harvard University
The Arborway
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130


OBSERVATIONS OF A 21st CENTURY NATURALIST
Robert Roy van de Hoek
December 2000

Blanche Trask, poet-explorer-naturalist, did most of her "California wild nature" exploration and writing on the "southern" Channel Islands of Southern California. She was a resident of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County, California from 1895 to 1915 (20 Years). Her winter home was located next to the Tuna Club in Avalon, but she also had a summer home at the Isthmus where the Institute of Environmental Studies of USC is currently located. However, she did travel to the deserts of the west as well and we know this through her correspondence such as in the following letter. She corresponded with professors and scientists at UC Berkeley, Harvard University, the Smithsonian, and at the California Academy of Sciences in San Franciso. For example, Charles Sargent of Harvard University wrote three letters to Blanche Trask in 1911.

Blanche Trask appreciated the desert landscape of the Colorado Desert but the California Channel Islands is her "sense of place." The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island.

These three letters by Charles Sargent were written about "three weeks" apart from each other, on January 21, February 10, and March 2. This correspondence is after the last of her published writings on the islands. The above narrative and letter was written and compiled by Robert Roy van de Hoek, November 28, 2000, for educational purposes in recognition of the approaching 90th year anniversary of these three letters being written.


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