Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: Amazing Rare Things

Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery by David Attenborough, Susan Owens, Martin Clayton and Rea Alexandratos

This book focuses on the natural history drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Marshall, Maria Sibylla Merian and Mark Catesby as well as the collections of Cassiano dal Pozzo. The introductory chapter introduces and summarizes the work of these artists and is written by David Attenborough. Each chapter is beautifully illustrated with a selection of plates from the artists, the originals of which are all held in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review: The Plants that Shaped our Gardens

The Plants that Shaped our Gardens by David Stuart - the title describes the book very well. Each chapter focusses on the history of a different type of garden: the bedding garden, the American garden, classic herbaceous borders etc. Details of the travels and writings of many plant explorers are given, along with the plants that they discovered. The book is very readable although a little confusing in that the history is not given chronologically. Organizing the material by garden type necessitates a certain amount of cross-referencing between chapters since one explorer typically found many types of plants and therefore should appear in several chapters. Sometimes the allocation of an explorer to a particular garden type seems arbitrary. Despite this, a worthy book with an abundance of information about the plants and the men behind today's gardens.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mark Catesby's Plants

I finished my work on Mark Catesby's plants from his Natural History of the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas. I posted it under Distinctive English Gardens. Also posted the talk "Something Old, Something New" that I did for Cherokee Rose Garden Club in November.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Review: The Collector's Garden

The Collector's Garden by Ken Druse is, as with all his books, beautifully presented. There are 4 types of collectors according to Druse: hunters, missionaries, specialists and aesthetes. He organizes the book along these lines, which at times seem arbitrary and perhap more convenient for the author than the reader. The information is, however, very interesting to those who love plants and gardens. I came away with a long list of plants to research further, with the objective of growing them myself. The historical section, 'hunters', was particularly interesting for me. In general, a good pick for the plant enthusiast.

Friday, December 4, 2009

McCorkles Christmas Sale

McCorkles has opened for Christmas - today and tomorrow only. I went this morning. They had great deals on large Leylands, Magnolias and Cryptomerias. Unfortunately I don't have room for them. I did get two replacement Daisy Gardenias (3 gallons) and a replacement August Beauty Gardenia and Helleri Holly (both 1 gallons) and a little treat - an Ilex Highlander. I need to do research on that one but it was only $2.