Seven Flowers: and How They Shaped Our World Hardcover – 3 Oct 2013
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Praise for "Strange Blooms"
"A tour de force . . . We owe Potter a huge debt of gratitude for the tireless research and sifting of evidence that have allowed the Tradescants and their great legacy to emerge so clearly at last." --"Sunday Times"
"Beautifully produced and meticulously researched." --"Observer"
"Masterly . . . Jennifer Potter's achievement in "Strange Blooms" is to have breathed life back into the Tradescant name." --"Times Literary Supplement"
"Anyone who has ever planted a seed or loved a flower can appreciate the author's knowledge and devotion."--"Kirkus Reviews"
"Potter's book is for the armchair florist, the orchid-obsessed, and the history reader with a green thumb. The flowers are an excuse to arrange a bouquet of interesting vignettes, such as the origins of the fleur-de-lis or the introduction of laudanum, made from opium poppies, in Western medicine. If Potter's source list is any indication, she has distilled a massive amount of information into an erudite book with an entertaining conceit."--"Publishers Weekly"
"Anyone who has ever planted a seed or loved a flower can appreciate the author's knowledge and devotion."--"Kirkus Reviews" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Also a published novelist, Jennifer Potter writes about the history and culture of plants, plantsmen and gardens. She reviews regularly for the Times Literary Supplement, and has been variously a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, a Hawthornden Fellow and an Honorary Teaching Fellow on the Warwick Writing Programme. Her most recent books include Strange Blooms and The Rose, A True History, both published by Atlantic Books.
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Top Customer Reviews
On many days, the book just put me to sleep - very botanical in parts and lacking the passion and enthusiasm in the writing that I was hoping for.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For example, Potter writes of the lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) – white, pink, and blue, from Egypt and Tutankhamen’s burial chamber to Napoleon’s scientists to the Indus Valley of the Punjab to China. ‘Their appeal is timeless,’ she concludes. The lily (Lilieum candidum) from Europe to the Asiatic is described as ‘Europe’s answer to the lotus.’ Potter discusses its ‘scurrilous heritage’ and that the early Christian Church tried to ban it. The sunflower (Helianthus annuluus) is ‘the brute’ of the flowers for its size. She follows it from the Americas to the subject of William Blake’s, Vincent van Gogh’s and Paul Gauguin’s works, and how some states in America tried to have it classified as a ‘noxious weed.’
Potter writes of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) from the western Mediterranean to Mongolia’s Kublai Khan and to Afghanistan. The rose is the author’s favourite flower, having written about it extensively on its own in her 2010 book, The Rose: A True History. The rose – ‘the chameleon of a flower’ is a native of the northern hemisphere only, from Europe to the Arctic Circle, and appears in Middle Eastern poetry to the recipe for rosewater. The tulip (family Tulipa) is described as having ‘no utility whatsoever’ – unlike the other flowers in the book, yet it is a popular emblem. She finishes with the orchid (family Orchidaceae) from Confucius to Kew Gardens as ‘one of the strangest flowers’ in the world.
Potter adds that she would have like to have included the carnation, peonies, and chrysanthemums, as well as banksias, proteas, and waratahs – but time and space did not permit their inclusion.
Mostly Potter explores the origins of the flowers and how they became part of art and literature, and beyond. She writes of their descriptions, cultural meanings and influences, literature and life, poetry and scents, to myths and legends. While it is not a comprehensive coverage for each flower, it does give readers a sense of their intrigue and fascination over the years - for both males and females.