Charles Sprague Sargent
Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) was an American botanist. He was the first director of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University, and the standard botanical author abbreviation Sarg. is applied to plants he described.
Sargent was the second son of Ignatius Sargent, a Boston merchant and banker who grew wealthy on railroad investments. He grew up on his father's 130 acre (526,000 m²) estate in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, and attended Harvard College, where he graduated in the Class of 1862. He enlisted in the Union Army later that year, saw service in Louisiana during the Civil War, and was mustered out in 1865, after which he traveled in Europe for three years.
Having returned to his family's Jamaica Plain estate, Sargent took over its management as a horticulturist, influenced by his cousin Henry and H. H. Hunnewell of Wellesley. Under his direction, the family estate became a landscape without flower bed, gardens, or geometric arrangements, but rather a recreation of nature with winding lanes, overhanging branches, and a profusion of trees and shrubbery.
When in 1872 Harvard University decided to establish an arboretum mearby, Prof. Francis Parkman assumed its lead for one year, but, in poor health, he soon resigned, and probably suggested his young neighbor Sargent as a successor. By the end of 1872, Sargent became the first Director of the Arnold Arboretum, a post he held until his death, and Director of the Botanic Garden in Cambridge (long since given up).
Even by the standards of Boston society of the 1900s, Charles Sprague Sargent was unusual. He was colder than even the surrounding, and notoriously chilly, Boston society, had nothing to do with local government, and cared little for the social ills of his era. Rather he was a stern lord of his own arboretum, and always at work during his waking hours. In this career, Sargent came of age as a dendrologist and published extensively. His influence was felt nationally on the conservation of American forests (in particular the Catskills and Adirondacks). Locally he and Olmsted often teamed up, even for details so small as the tree plantings on Commonwealth Avenue.
After Sargent's death, on an Arbor Day memorial, Governor Fuller planted a white spruce on the grounds of the Massachusetts State House in his memory, and noted that, "Professor Sargent knew more about trees than any other living person. It would be hard to find anyone who did more to protect trees from the vandalism of those who do not appreciate the contribution that they make to the beauty and wealth of our nation."