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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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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Read this for my non-fiction library book group.

Interesting look at how modern English gardens came into existence. Many of the plants found and propagated were from the American colonies. the author also included the fated Mutiny on the Bounty and what caused that mutiny.

The obsession was not only about botany but about how to improve the ENglish economy after the defeat by the American Colonies and setting up new trade and creating new trade in the EAst and West Indies. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf outlines the correlation between the American colonies and the rise of modern botany. She does this by following the correspondence and commerce between a colonist and a British gardener. There is also mention of the arrogant but often right Lineas as well as the Bounty's botanical adventure to Tahiti.

At the time I read the book I was in the midst of a difficult but fascinating cataloging course. So my take-aways from the book are based around cataloging. Botany is rooted in classification of plants and flowers. It's a way to describe something that might be shipped as a seed, a cutting, a fruit or dried flowers.

The "new world" was filled with unusual and exotic plants that were in high demand back especially on the British estates that were trying to recreate the colonial wilderness in their stately gardens. Shipping entire living plants was a difficult and expensive venture. Seeds worked better if the garden could be made to mimic the expected climate and soil conditions.

It was an interesting look at a specific time in history. The illustrations are good. The asides are fascinating but sometimes long winded. ( )
  pussreboots | Jan 26, 2015 |
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 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:27 -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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