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Conservation through Appreciation

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Venus' fly-trap
Dionaea muscipula Ellis

"Dr. Wells, in his very educational and inspiring lecture, especially stressed the necessity for educating the public to appreciate Nature, saying there is very little need for preserving plant life if there is no one to appreciate it."

The North Carolina Wildflower Preservation Society Newsletter
February 1956

lecture announcement
Lecture Announcement
North Carolina Agriculture and Industry

Throughout his life, Dr. Wells gave countless lectures. Armed with his lantern slides and a projector, he spoke on topics ranging from gardening to the Big Savannah. The time and attention to detail that he invested in transforming his black and white photographs into colored lantern slides by hand testifies to both his love of nature and the importance he placed on showing others North Carolina as he saw it. He was a captivating speaker, able to engage a wide variety of audiences, from the scientific community to the public.

Wells contributed to several popular books including a chapter on North Carolina in this guide which surveys each of the states. Typical of a Wells' presentation, it outlines the major plant communities and stresses the beauty and diversity that may be found in each.

"Today we are witnessing the steady destruction of the original vegetation. The truly undisturbed wild areas are now to be found many miles from the cities and towns. Millions of children are growing up with no knowledge of the wild flowers, which were so familiar to our ancestors."
B. W. Wells
The North Carolina Wildflower Preservation Society Newsletter
October 1971

Wells was actively involved in the North Carolina Wild Flower Preservation Society, providing lectures at meetings and publishing regularly in their newsletter. Wells and this group were vocal in opposing plans for a highway through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The newsletter reprinted his letter to the park superintendent, which mentions his work in the area, and states that it would be a "social crime" to build any more roads there.

photograph
Venus' fly-trap
Dionaea muscipula Ellis

photograph
Flowers of the Venus' fly-trap
Dionaea muscipula Ellis

If the Big Savannah was Wells' favorite ecological zone, then it is clear that the Venus' fly-trap was his favorite plant on that site. He spends several pages in The Natural Gardens discussing its operation, and quotes Darwin, who called it "the most wonderful plant in the world." He adds drama to his description of how the plant catches and devours its insect meals, noting that, through this action, "the plant world has a partial revenge for all of the vegetation that has been eaten by its minute animal enemies."

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