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Botanical Riches: Stories of Botanical Exploration

By: Richard Aitken

256 pages, 300 colour illustrations

Lund Humphries

Paperback | Oct 2008 | #178845 | ISBN-13: 9781848220102
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $33/€28 approx
Hardback | Oct 2006 | #165035 | ISBN: 0853319553
Out of Print Details

About this book

The botanical riches of this book are twofold. This is firstly a book about plants themselves, and the story of their exploration, appreciation, introduction and exploitation through the ages. But it is equally about the collective library of books that document this botanical exploration and appreciation of plants, and the history and craft of botanical illustration.

Richard Aitken brings his wide expertise in garden history to this highly illustrated book. He traces man's gradual realisation of the potential of plants for medicinal, nutritional, flavouring and decorative purposes from the ancient and classical worlds, through to the Renaissance and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to today. Entire mercantile societies revolved around the trade in spices, oils and fruit and vegetables, making those in possession of such natural resources extremely wealthy.

Botanical Riches is magnificently illustrated with some of the world's most glorious engraved, lithographed and hand-coloured botanical illustrations. From the earliest Renaissance herbals to the elaborate and beautiful volumes from the golden age of printing, books celebrating plants from far-off lands brought with them a sense of wonder.

'This is a book to treasure. Lavishly illustrated, lovingly written, globally inclusiveA...Readers will find some wonderfully compelling cultural-botanical juxtapositionsA... Representations of plant forms are stunningly presented ... Maps, garden flowers, floras, and portraits of botanists round out the visual feast, all of it accompanied by readable, informative text. Essential. All levels.' -Choice


Introduction; Part 1: Plants of the Ancient and Classical Worlds: Timeless traditions; The fertile crescent; Ancient Egypt; Ancient India; Mesamerican and Andean civilisation; Mediterranean civilisations; The Silk Road to Cathay and beyond; The rise of Islam; The Renaissance. Part 2: The Great Age of Maritime Exploration: Empire building in the golden age; The new world; Imperial tales of the Near East; Exploring the Far East; European colonisation of the Americas; The Cape unveiled; Taking stock. Part 3: Scientific Imperialism and exotic botany: The reach of empire; New Holland and the South Pacific; Erica-mania; Anglo-India and the Dutch East Indies; North America's Western frontier; Central and South America; Piercing the oriental armour; Commerce and the insatiable taste for novelty. Part 4: Conservation and Renewal: Wollemi dreaming; Notes on the text; Bibliography; Notes on the Illustrations; Index.

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Richard Aitken is a writer, architect, curator and historian who has edited the Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens. A founder member of the Australian Garden History Society, he has written and lectured on garden history. He has also prepared conservation plans for gardens in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

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