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The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and…

The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession (2009)

by Andrea Wulf

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I really enjoyed this look into the heyday of British botany. It is amazing to see read how the botanical curiosity and diligent cultivation of several important figures shaped the world. Intrigue and oppression are tied in with the English botanical interests here described, but there is no question that they changed the world and brought knowledge and pleasure to many people. This is a fascinating read. ( )
  Brian.Gunderson | Sep 24, 2013 |
This was a fascinating and accessible book. I learned so much from it, I don't know where to begin. Except maybe to say that Fuchsia is NOT pronounced Fyou-sha, oh no. It should be pronounced FOOKS-ia after our dear Mr. Fuchs. I can hardly wait to try that out on the garden store clerk come spring.

This sweeping history of gardening and botany in the 18th century is compulsively readable and full of interesting trivia and tidbits about famous gardeners and botanists. Some of whom I'd actually heard of.

Highly recommended for gardeners.

( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Interesting in parts, but lost some of the interest for me about the last third or so. It started out tracing the friendship of two men and their gardens. Collinson in England and Bertram in USA. But then it side tracked into Linnaeus and his student solander and lost its train of thought somewhere in there. Probably because here was only so much to say about those first two. Some good in depth details and some interesting tidbits of the personalities of the early botanists but it was hard for me to stay interested in finishing the book. ( )
  bfertig | Aug 7, 2012 |
A cracking read. The German-born Andrea Wulf casts an outsiders eye over the personalities and passions which shaped Britain's love for gardening in the Eighteenth Century. Concentrating on half a dozen individuals, their relationships and correspondence, she vividly illuminates how they had an such influence on botany and gardening lasting to this day. ( )
  antisyzygy | Jun 16, 2011 |
Well written, engaging look at the development of the gardening fashions in 18th century Britain. The author introduces a rich cast of characters whose passion for plants and gardens helped to transform the landscape of the British countryside. She argues that this passion for gardening was the embodiment of Enlightenment thinking in Britain, as these men moved away from the Baroque formality of geometric gardening and into an exploration and celebration of more natural forms. The work makes one wish for an illustrated version, with naturalists' illustrations of the objects of these men's passions. ( )
1 vote MarieHooper | Jun 14, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307270238, Hardcover)

This is the fascinating story of a small group of eighteenth-century naturalists who made Britain a nation of gardeners and the epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. It’s the story of a garden revolution that began in America.

In 1733, the American farmer John Bartram dispatched two boxes of plants and seeds from the American colonies, addressed to the London cloth merchant Peter Collinson. Most of these plants had never before been grown in British soil, but in time the magnificent and colorful American trees, evergreens, and shrubs would transform the English landscape and garden forever. During the next forty years, Collinson and a handful of botany enthusiasts cultivated hundreds of American species. The Brother Gardeners follows the lives of six of these men, whose shared passion for plants gave rise to the English love affair with gardens. In addition to Collinson and Bartram, who forged an extraordinary friendship, here are Philip Miller, author of the best-selling Gardeners Dictionary; the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, whose standardized nomenclature helped bring botany to the middle classes; and Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, who explored the strange flora of Brazil, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia on the greatest voyage of discovery of their time, aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavour.

From the exotic blooms in Botany Bay to the royal gardens at Kew, from the streets of London to the vistas of the Appalachian Mountains, The Brother Gardeners paints a vivid portrait of an emerging world of knowledge and of gardening as we know it today. It is a delightful and beautifully told narrative history.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:15 -0400)

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Follows the lives of six men who shared a passion for plants and a love of gardening in eighteenth-century London, who made Britain the epicenter of horticulture, and transformed gardening from an aristocratic pastime to a national obsession.

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