The 19th century was the golden age of the plant hunter.
Adventurous men (and some women) travelled to inhospitable parts of
the world, often facing life-threatening dangers from bandits and
physical deprivation, in search of new plants to introduce to
European gardens. The discovery of a new species conferred the
right of naming and gardeners today are surrounded by the Latinised
versions of the names of great botanists or their patrons: Darwin,
Hooker, Banks and Delavey, to name but a few, and among then the
name of the subject of this biography, Reginald Farrer, who gave
the name Farreri to the ubiquitous winter-flowering Viburnum.
Farrer was not the average product of his class and upbringing. He
converted to Buddhism, was probably gay, and was a self-centred
emotionally unstable personality. Initially he conceived himself as
a novelist and indeed his first and least unsuccessful book was
favourably reviewed by Virginia Woolf. However as this career
petered out he turned to gardening and particularly rock gardening.
Taking a portion of his parents' estate, he converted an almost
vertical cliff into a habitat for alpine plants, even firing seeds
from a gun into the crevices. Feeling the need for an independent
income he took to writing about gardening and did so with great
success, bringing the knowledge of a hands-on gardener and a poetic
imagination to his prose style, which still influences garden
writers today. This is a short book but Nicola Shuman packs a lot
in, recreating the atmosphere of Edwardian England and the
adventures and dangers of plant-hunting in remote Chinese
provinces. Appealingly readable and very enjoyable, its only
drawback is that it leaves one wanting to know more. (Kirkus UK)
At the turn of the 20th century, gardening was changing. Where
formerly the plant had been the servant of the gardener, now the
gardener was the servant of the plant. At the same time, gardening
was turning from the pastime of dukes, to the recreation of
millions. This new kind of gardening needed evangelists, but got
more than it bargained for in the impossibly egotistical Reginald
Farrer, whose passion for the most difficult of all plants,
alpines, would nevertheless inspire generations of gardeners with a
love of flowers with their own intrinsic beauty. "Half-poet,
half-botanist", as Vita Sackville West described him, he became one
of the very greatest in the last great age of plant-hunters, and
wrote books of unforgettable method and style. Through their
influence, he did for English gardening what half a century later
Elizabeth David would do for cooking, and changed everything for
ever. This life of Reginald Farrer offers a window on the opulence
and the drama of the world of Edwardian horticulture.
Is the information for this product incomplete, wrong or inappropriate?
Let us know about it.
Does this product have an incorrect or missing image?
Send us a new image.
Is this product missing categories?
Add more categories.
Review This Product
No reviews yet - be the first to create one!