Victoria, B.C. artist Anne Hansen, who is well-known for her paintings of the black oystercatcher (a shorebird), has just purchased the scientific- naming rights of a newly-discovered lichen, in a fundraising initiative of the Ancient Forest Alliance.
She will name the lichen after her deceased husband, Henry Kock, horticulturist and author of Growing Trees from Seed (Firefly Books Ltd, 2008). The book was completed by his botanical colleagues after his death. Kock (pronounced “Coke”) was the public face of the Arboretum at the University of Guelph for 20 years. He died of brain cancer on December 25, 2005. Hansen moved from Ontario to BC in 2007.
Anne says, “Henry was a tireless champion of biodiversity and inconspicuous species like toads, lichens and sedges. Organic gardening became his life’s work after an unfortunate early vocational exposure to pesticides. Many native gardens throughout Ontario owe their existence to Henry’s classes at the Arboretum and his travelling presentations to nature clubs. His own garden, which he transformed from lawn to forest, was dubbed the Hotel of the Trees. In his legendary slide shows, he referred to his suburban yard as a bed and breakfast for migrating songbirds.”
Henry Kock established the Elm Recovery Project at the Arboretum, which now bears his name, as does a new greenhouse on the University of Guelph campus.
“I feel like I got a bargain!” says Hansen. “Many people go into debt in December, for toys and gadgets that will soon be obsolete. Lichens have been around since ancient biological times. If we do something fast about climate change, lichens will be here far into the future. Naming a species after a beloved forest defender is my idea of a fabulous solstice celebration. I’m not the only one who’s noticed that the lichen looks like Henry’s beard!”