The Plants that Shaped Our Gardens by David Stuart, Frances Lincoln,
HOW many of us
wandering round a local garden centre have any idea where the
plants we choose originally came from, or how they reached
us? David Stuart haa the answer: obsessive collectors on
extraordinary adventures. Roses, tulips, magnolias, lilies.
orchids, delphiniums, poppies and phlox - we owe these riches
and thousands of other plants to a bunch of people who were
prepared to endure hardship and danger in pursuit of new
species. Many survived exttemes of climate, terrain and
isolation, not to mention hunger, disease, wild animals and
often hostile natives, only to lose their precious specimens
and botanical notes in shipwrecks on the way home. David
Stuart tells their stories with great panache in 'The Plants
that Shaped Our Gardens, a beautifully written and well
ilIustrated book. He reckons that the flood of new plants
into Europe over the past five centuries has been the main
drIving force behInd garden design. This abundance of choice
cracked the rigid mould of Europe's formal parterres and
landscape gardens. It encouraged the development of exuberant
flower beds, herbaceous borders, rockeries, water gardens and
hothousea - all of which draw the eye to the plants rather
than the View.
Sue Armstrong is a freelance science writer and editor.