A Swallow Press Book
“A well-researched volume for those who are deeply interested in the history of plant breeding and past plant breeders, the development of horticulture as a profession, and the flowers featured.”
“In this volume, Taylor succeeds once again in bringing the stories of diligent flower breeders of the past to the gardeners who benefit from their efforts today.”
Denise W. Adams, The American Gardener
“We are grateful to authors, such as Judith Taylor, who continue to search archives, historical societies and publications and interview family members to unearth information about, and bring attention to, those figures in the plant sciences whose accomplishments have been buried with time. As the author writes in her endnote, ‘the knowledge increases the pleasure’ of these plants.”
Huntia: A Journal of Botanical History
“After reading Taylor, I will embark with new eyes on the glorious weeks which are now beginning, the season of lilacs and rhododendrons, lupins, delphiniums, roses and sweet peas.”
Robin Lane Fox, Financial Times (for Visions of Loveliness)
Walk into any nursery, florist, or supermarket, and you’ll encounter displays of dozens of gorgeous flowers, from chrysanthemums to orchids. At one time these fanciful blooms were the rare trophies of the rich and influential—even the carnation, today thought of as one of the humblest cut flowers. Every blossom we take for granted now is the product of painstaking and imaginative planning, breeding, horticultural ingenuity, and sometimes chance. The personalities of the breeders, from an Indiana farmer to Admiral Lord Gambier’s gardener, were as various and compelling as the beauty they conjured from skilled hybridization.
In Visions of Loveliness: Great Flower Breeders of the Past, Judith Taylor wrote engagingly about the vivid history and characters behind eighteen types of popular flowers. In this companion volume she uncovers information about another eight familiar flowers: poinsettias, chrysanthemums, gladioli, pansies, carnations, water lilies, clematis, and penstemons.
Taylor has tapped into an enormous trove of stories about extraordinary people with vision and skill who added to our enjoyment piece by piece, starting about 150 years ago. This beautifully illustrated book will please flower enthusiasts, gardeners, and history buffs alike.
Judith M. Taylor is the author of The Olive in California: History of an Immigrant Tree; Tangible Memories: Californians and Their Gardens, 1800 to 1950; The Global Migrations of Ornamental Plants: How the World Got into Your Garden, and Visions of Loveliness: Great Flower Breeders of the Past. She lives in San Francisco. More info →
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Gardeners of today take for granted the many varieties of geraniums, narcissi, marigolds, roses, and other beloved flowers for their gardens. Few give any thought at all to how this incredible abundance came to be or to the people who spent a good part of their lives creating it. These breeders once had prosperous businesses and were important figures in their communities but are only memories now. They also could be cranky and quirky.
America’s Romance with the English Garden is the story of the beginnings of the modern garden industry, which seduced the masses with its images and fixed the English garden in the mind of the American consumer; the story of tastemakers and homemakers, of savvy businessmen and a growing American middle class eager to buy their products.
The Brown Goose, the White Case Knife, Ora’s Speckled Bean, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter—these are just a few of the heirloom fruits and vegetables you’ll encounter in Bill Best’s remarkable history of seed saving and the people who preserve both unique flavors and the Appalachian culture associated with them.
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