A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Flowers and Their Histories

Last year when I was researching cottage gardens for my plot at Rutgers Gardens, I encountered several references to a book on the origins of the plants typically found in English cottage gardens. It is appropriately titled, Flowers and Their Histories and was written by an Englishwoman named Alice M. Coats. She was curious about the origins of garden flowers in England and when she couldn't find any books on the subject, she wrote one herself.

I love heirloom flowers. I love history. I love plucky women. So I went online to my local library consortium and requested a copy of this book. I literally couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I was sure that I would be so enthralled that I would have to hunt down a copy (it is out of print) and buy it no matter what the price.

Thank goodness for libraries! This book was a HUGE disappointment. Extremely informative. Extremely detailed. Extremely dry. Now I know what people mean when they say history is boring. I still can't get over the fact that anyone could take my two favorite topics and render them so unreadable that when the due date arrived and I still hadn't finished slogging my way through it, I was actually glad to return the book.

Don't get me wrong. This is an excellent reference book. If you are curious about the backgrounds of some of the plants in your garden, this is a great resource. But if you want a book that you can curl up with and actually enjoy reading, I can't recommend it.


At 4:32 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

Your post certainly made me smile! I adore gardening but too find that there is so little to read about that is written with any remote sense of passion. If I come across anything I will let you know.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree... gardening books without passion are just not all that appealing! Have you checked out "Who Does Your Garden Grow?" yet? That book is supposed to shed some light on the names behind various cultivars. Hopefully the title is not the only clever part of the book!

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a book for me!

At 9:56 PM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Thanks, Tim! And by the way, any interest in adding your blog to Garden Voices?

Kim, I'll see if I can get that one through my library.

Jenn, hopefully you will enjoy it more than I did.


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