skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   12 August 1873

Abinger Hall, | Wotton. Surrey (Post Town) | Gomshall (Station) S.E.R.

12 Aug/73 10 A.M.

My dear Mr Darwin

I will at once give you Paynes experience about leaves.1 He says that with plenty of air water does not hurt them. A shower in the hottest day will do no harm, out of doors,, unless an unusually intense hot gleam directly follows. Under glass he can syringe even foliage plants on the hottest day if the sashes are well open— But if the sashes are closed and there is no draft & no evaporation water with the sun on it injures the leaves. At present in the green house is an abundant crop of grapes on healthy vines, which are in full foliage. Some few of the leaves are discoloured and dead—and this, Payne says, is caused by the condensation of moisture on the glass at night dropping on the leaves and acting on them in the morning sun before the sashes are open.

I will have another look at Coronilla; & will try to get some more of that tiresome genus.2 What if it should be right, and I wrong altogether!

I have been making a list of the vegetation on the top of the hill & comparing it with one I made 3 years since, shortly after my predecessor ploughed it. One thing strikes me—vizt how much more monotonous the vegetation has become—Gorse: broom: bracken: thyme: plantago lanceolata:3 & one or two others cover the ground and have ousted a number of plants—geraniums—ornithopus—rumex:—veronicas—stellarias—&c4 which formerly shared the ground with them. It is an illustration of how, under changed circumstances, (vizt ploughing,) there is place for new things: and how under fixed conditions the more favoured genera & species predominate; and the less favoured diminish & vanish— How much variety do we not owe to cultivation?

You could not have enjoyed your stay here more than we enjoyed having you—5 And we trust that having found your way here you will find it again and see how the children and “Cornulla” and the landscape gardening get on. Which is the most important of them?

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

CD annotations

2.1 I will … them? 4.4] crossed pencil
Margin of first page: ‘About Burning Leaves’ pencil


Gorse is the common name for the genus Ulex; common broom is Cytisus scoparius; bracken is the common name for ferns of the genus Pteridium; thyme is the common name for species of the genus Thymus. Plantago lanceolata has several common names, such as buckthorn plantain and ribwort.
Geranium is the genus of cranesbill geraniums; Ornithopus is the genus of bird’s-foot; Rumex is the genus of docks; Veronica is the genus of speedwells; Stellaria is the genus of starworts.
CD had stayed at Abinger Hall from 5 to 9 August 1873 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Observations on effect of water on leaves.


Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 75
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9005,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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