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Mr John Giles

John Giles was born in 1725 or 1726, and died in 1797. He worked as a gardener for Lady Boyd in Lewisham, Kent. He is also known to have worked as a foreman at a nursery in Lewisham in 1777.

His treatise on growing pineapples, Ananas, or a treatise on the pine-apple, was published in 1767, and included details of temperature, soil, tools, frost protection and seasonal tasks in the pineapple hothouse.

The motto that he put on the front of Ananas was 'Experientia docet,' a Latin term meaning that experience teaches us. This was an important new idea in the 18th century that, instead of looking for information in ancient texts, people such as gardeners should experiment and observe accurately.


Giles, John, Ananas, or a treatise on the pine-apple, (London, 1767).

Raphael, Sandra, An Oak Spring Pomona, (Upperville, Virginia, 1990).

Desmond, Ray Dictionary of British & Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists: including plant collectors, flower painters, and garden designers, (London, Natural History Museum, 1994).