Laura Martin


is a historian and ecologist who studies how people shape the habitats of other species. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and The Los Angeles Times. She is an associate professor of environmental studies and faculty affiliate in history at Williams College.

Sophie McNulty


is the host and producer of this episode and has worked for a wide range of podcasts, including Gardening with the RHS, Freakonomics Radio, and Safe Space Radio. She produced the first two seasons of Lost Women of Science: “The Pathologist in the Basement” and “A Grasshopper in Tall Grass.”

Deborah Unger


started her career covering technology for Business Week magazine in New York and San Francisco. She has worked for The Guardian in London and as a freelance contributor to The New York Times in Paris. She joined Lost Women of Science as a Senior Managing Producer in 2023.

Episode Description

When Laura Martin decided to write a history of ecological restoration, she didn’t think she would have to go back further than the 1980s to uncover its beginnings. What she found, however, deep in the archives, was evidence of a network of early female botanists from the turn of the last century who had been written out of history. Wild by Design: The Rise of Ecological Restoration sets the record straight. It tells the stories of Eloise Butler, Edith Roberts and the wild and wonderful gardens they planted and studied.

Eloise Butler. Photo courtesy Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection, M2632J

Eloise, in full dress and hat, using a downed tree to navigate on a visit to the quaking bog in 1911.

Eloise Butler. Credit: Hennepin County Library
Eloise Butler. Credit: Hennepin County Library
Eloise Butler. Credit: Hennepin County Library
Eloise Butler. Credit: Hennepin County Library

Edith Roberts. Credit: Archives and Special Collections, Vassar College Ph.f 8.33

Art Design: Keren Mevorach; Credit Harvard University Press

Further Reading

Wild by Design: The Rise of Ecological Restoration, by Laura J. Martin, Harvard University Press, 2022.

The Women Who Saved Wildflowers, by Laura J. Martin, Sierra, June 2, 2022. 

"Women’s Work" in Science, 1880-1910, by Margaret W. Rossiter, Isis, Volume 71, Number 3, Sep., 1980.

The Wild Gardener: The Life and Selected Writings of Eloise Butler, by Martha E. Hellander, North Star Press of St. Cloud, 1992.

Fruits and Plains: The Horticultural Transformation of America, by Philip J. Pauly, Harvard University Press, 2008.

Episode Transcript

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