Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants in Your Garden

"Every garden plant comes from somewhere. It will have ancestral species growing on a mountainside or deep within a forest, or be part of some great remaining grassland.... But when were these plants introduced into cultivation? Where, when and how did we end up with the range of cultivars we currently have down at the garden centre or nursery?" Noel Kingsbury (New Small Garden) is a British garden designer and the author of many volumes on various aspects of gardening. This is not a book on how to cultivate these plants, but rather an overview of the most widely grown genera of European and U.S. gardens.

He glances at their origins, natural habitats, evolution, ecology, ornamental culinary and medicinal uses, their history of cultivation and their introduction to Europe. More than 130 entries are dedicated to specific genera and a few broader categories, such as asters and ferns. Kingsbury provides a well-organized introduction that also acts as a glossary, laying out his terms and concepts. There is also a long list of recommended further reading organized by author, and (unfortunately) a poorly constructed index. Beautiful color illustrations, many of them full-page, accompany the entries, reproductions of engravings, paintings, prints, photographs and garden catalogue art. Garden Flora is a light, beautifully produced reference work that would make a lovely gift for quick histories of favorite garden plants, or as a jumping-off point for further research. --Sara Catterall

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