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Walk into any nursery, florist, or supermarket, and you'll encounter displays of dozens of gorgeous flowers, from chrysanthemums to orchids. At one time these fanciful blooms were the rare trophies of the rich and influential – even the carnation, today thought of as one of the humblest cut flowers. Every blossom we take for granted now is the product of painstaking and imaginative planning, breeding, horticultural ingenuity, and sometimes chance. The personalities of the breeders, from an Indiana farmer to Admiral Lord Gambier's gardener, were as various and compelling as the beauty they conjured from skilled hybridization.
In Visions of Loveliness: Great Flower Breeders of the Past, Judith Taylor wrote engagingly about the vivid history and characters behind eighteen types of popular flowers. In this companion volume she uncovers information about another eight familiar flowers: poinsettias, chrysanthemums, gladioli, pansies, carnations, water lilies, clematis, and penstemons.
Taylor has tapped into an enormous trove of stories about extraordinary people with vision and skill who added to our enjoyment piece by piece, starting about 150 years ago. This beautifully illustrated book will please flower enthusiasts, gardeners, and history buffs alike.
Judith M. Taylor is the author of The Olive in California: History of an Immigrant Tree; Tangible Memories: Californians and Their Gardens, 1800 to 1950; The Global Migrations of Ornamental Plants: How the World Got into Your Garden, and Visions of Loveliness: Great Flower Breeders of the Past. She lives in San Francisco.