on 25 January 2010
The author packs her considerable expertise into this beautifully illustrated and concise account of how the Victorians went fern-crazy. They didn't just collect specimens they also used ferns as a decorative device to adorn everything from garden benches to glassware. A really fascinating insight into how a single plant captured the Victorian imagination - if you're interested in ferns (obviously!), gardens, glasshouses or, indeed, Victorian architecture and design, then this book is a great read and a bargain at the price.
on 6 September 2012
This is a pleasing introduction to a Victorian craze that we all kind of knew about but didn't really know we knew. If you know what I mean. The typical over-stuffed Victorian parlour would not be complete for a gentleman (in his smokin' jacket) without those glass Wardian cases filled with an imitation fern gully and a small tribe of miniature Maoris. Or what seaside town would be complete without one of those huge glass steam-powered Winter Gardens to get lost in. The ferns were just one part of the Victorian fascination for creating chines, grottos and fairy hollows. In fact, many a collector of rare ferns was never seen again after disappearing down a fairy-hole and this was probably the cause of the fad dying out as the body of expertise dwindled to just a few hardened nutters armed to the teeth with knives and shotguns, but sadly lacking in any communication skills.
This slim book runs to about 60 pages and has many colour pictures. It is part of a worthy series by the Shire Library about such cultural cornerstones as garden gnomes and beach huts.
on 3 December 2015
There are two versions of this excellent guide by Sarah Whittingham. This is the slim, A5 version and the other is a large format coffee table hardback edition. Both seem to contain exactly the same text and copious illustrations.
I began knowing nothing about this topic and ended by feeling well-informed and ready to explore in the field.
The style is concise, and augmented by margin notes/illustrations and quotations which complement the many larger pictures. This is a pocket guide which can easily be carried when exploring the grottos of stately homes and antique shops.
If you want larger versions of the many illustrations then be prepared to pay £35.00 or more for the hardback version.