Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel KingsburyGarden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury

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

byNoel Kingsbury

Paper over Board | October 5, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info

$44.51 online 
$55.00 list price save 19%
Earn 223 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


“A beautifully illustrated reference book covers the origins, ecology and history of popular garden plants.” —Shelf Awareness

The oldest rose fossil was found in Colorado and dates to 35 million years ago. Marigolds, infamous for their ability to self-seed, are named for an Etruscan god who sprang from a ploughed field. And daffodils—an icon of spring—were introduced to Britain by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. Every garden plant has an origination story, and Garden Flora, by noted garden designer Noel Kingsbury, shares them in a beautifully compelling way. This lushly illustrated survey of 133 of the most commonly grown plants explains where each plant came from and the journey it took into home gardens. Kingsbury tells intriguing tales of the most important plant hunters, breeders, and gardeners throughout history, and explores the unexpected ways plants have been used. Richly illustrated with an eclectic mix of new and historical photos, botanical art, and vintage seed packets and catalogs, Garden Flora is a must-have reference for every gardener and plant lover.
Noel Kingsbury is a researcher, writer, and teacher. A gardener since childhood, he has run a nursery, designed gardens and public spaces, and done doctoral research at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape on the ecology of ornamental perennials. He lives and gardens in the Welsh Borders near Hay-on-Wye.
Title:Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your GardenFormat:Paper over BoardDimensions:368 pages, 11 × 8.5 × 1 inPublished:October 5, 2016Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:160469565X

ISBN - 13:9781604695656


Read from the Book

Introduction 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. These ancestors may well have been put to some use by the local community, as food, medicine, or source of materials; they might have played a part in local mythology or spirituality. But at some point in history they were taken into cultivation and then truly become part of the human story. Some plants have been transformed by cultivation—selected, crossed, and bred to a level where their wild ancestors can hardly be recognised. Others have stayed remarkably similar to what might still be found in the world’s diminishing wild spaces. 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? This book is intended as an overview of the most widely grown genera of temperate zone garden plants, answering not just questions about origins and habitats but offering a broad outline of their history in cultivation as well. Books on how to cultivate garden plants are plentiful, and many of these (as well as an increasing number of online sources) discuss the basic botanical characteristics of genera common in cultivation. These are two areas which are not dealt with here. What is much more difficult to access is information on the ecological aspects of garden plants and on their history in cultivation—areas that this volume focusses on. In addition, to help fill out the picture and provide some extra colour to our experience of garden plants, some reference is also made to the mythological and folklore aspects of garden plants, where relevant, and to their traditional and modern uses outside the garden. The information available on the ecological and historical aspects of garden plants is very patchy: there is a lot on some genera, very little on others. This is partly a reflection of geography and development; it is easy, for example, to find material on the ecology of European plants, very difficult for Chinese. In some cases very detailed studies have been made of some genera, whereas others have been ignored. What I have tried to do is the classic “standing on the shoulders of giants”—reflecting upon and making available scholarship that is not available elsewhere, in one volume. In most cases, the genus is the unit of discussion; the exceptions are a number of headings that discuss a larger taxonomic unit or a cluster of genera (e.g., asters, gesneriads, heathers). This introduction is aimed at talking the reader through some basic concepts, using keywords, which are here emphasised in bold. These keywords will then be used throughout the book as a shorthand. In many cases these concepts can only be understood in a wider context; consequently, the content here will act as a very basic primer in plant ecology and in garden plant history. Certain key personalities (plant hunters, botanists, etc.) who are repeatedly referenced, often by surname only, will also be indicated here in bold. Readers should be able to refer back to this introduction to find explanations of keywords.

Editorial Reviews

“Noel Kingsbury has a great talent for writing books that entertain and fascinate, and also prove useful for gardeners of all levels.” —Piet Oudolf, landscape architect and author of Planting, Hummelo, and Landscapes in Landscapes “Entertaining, curious, erudite, historical, wide-ranging. . . . A solid compendium that should find heavy use.” —Booklist “A beautifully illustrated reference book covers the origins, ecology and history of popular garden plants.” —Self Awareness “A rich source of amusing botanical trivia with which to entertain gardening friends. . . . this book is richly illustrated and makes an interesting and informative read.” —Gardens Illustrated   “Keep this book by your bedside or near a comfortable chair for reading. You'll be returning to it again and again and again.” —Garden Design Online “A pleasure to leaf through. . . . This large, coffee-table-sized book is another gorgeous publication from Timber Press. . . . This book represents a considerable accomplishment in terms of the compilation of facts and related art for the selected plants.” —Washington Gardener “We absolutely love garden designer Noel Kingsbury’s Garden Flora, an ode to the wealth of knowledge and history that comes with gardens.” —Garden Collage “You can amaze your friends at your next cocktail party by sharing some of these sensational stories. . . . Garden Flora will provide hours of endless fascination.” —Country Gardens “This must be the most beautiful book of the publishing season, with an oversize format rich in botanical art and historic and contemporary photos. Every page is stunning, a revelation in art and text.” —The Seattle Times  “If you have just a few books on the shelf, consider adding this encyclopedia of ecological and historical aspects of garden plants. . . . Kingsbury has put together a well-researched and impressively informative book that will truly increase the knowledge and enrich the readers' and gardeners' appreciation for the amazing flora we see in our world every day.” —OregonLive “The subject matter lends itself to lush illustration, and the images the book features have been carefully chosen and sourced. . . . This volume is an important step in gaining the appreciation for our garden plants that their cultural contribution deserves. lt is a book that should be enjoyed by enthusiastic gardeners who wish to enrich their appreciation of the plants they grow.” —The Garden magazine