384 pages, colour line drawings
This book offers a completely new quick and easy way to identify almost any wildflower you may come across in Britain or Ireland. It is unique in the simplicity of its method of identification, using the colour and shape of the flower and the characteristics of the leaf, and has been extensively researched to offer a greater collection of wildflower particulars than ever before published in one portable volume.
563 species are illustrated, grouped according to characteristics, with notes to distinguish between them - including keys to size, and place and time of flowering - as well as additional material on superstition and folklore, and medicinal, culinary and other uses.
Does the world really need another wildflower book? Yes, provided it's sturdy and fits in pocket or rucksack, and provided it's easier to use and more informative than its predecessors. Coates's guide gets ticks on all counts. Not bad given that he read engineering at Cambridge and now advises digital media companies, ie he's no botanist. Actually, this is his strong point. As a keen walker he comes to the subject from the general reader's perspective so the guide is logical - it is colour coded - and botanical details are simplified but not dumbed down. Common names, recognised by so many more people, are given precedence over Latin and the illustrations of 553 species by members of the Society of Botanical Artists are first rate... It offers a good spread and creates the space to tell us about each plant, its history, uses and folklore. Here's hoping grasses and trees are in the pipeline. Sunday Times One feature focuses on the language of flowers, a coded form of communication between Victorians, who associated flowers with particular sentiments. Heather, which was used to signify admiration, would be my floral missive to the author. BBC Wildlife Hugely informative and well-indexed, this is a real innovation, written out of the author's own desire for a really clear guide to wildflowers to use while out walking. Good Book Guide This illustrated pocket-sized book uses a brilliantly simple identification system to find the plant you are looking up. Good Book Guide
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Charles Coates read engineering at Cambridge and is now a London-based entrepreneur and advisor to digital media companies. He was driven to write Wildflowers of Britain and Ireland by the lack of a simple guide to recognising wildflowers and learning their uses while on walks in Devon with his wife and daughters.