A completely new look at plants – not only in food, drink and commerce, and how they have created civilisation, trade and empires, but also in love, in war, in crime, in horror and delight, in music, poetry and prose, and on the screen. Not just another gardening or plant book, this is a complete picture of how plants affect people, for better or worse, now, in the past and in the future with illuminating and startling facts about their ubiquitous presence in human affairs – through life, death, illness, happiness, murder, despair, desperation, love, hate, loss, and far more. From Presidents to pop stars, from scientists to slavers, royals to religious leaders, chefs to charlatans, pioneers to politicians, artists to actors, Plants & Us is a unique overview of plants, wild and cultivated, their vital importance and the threats they face. Above all, how they affect all our lives in stories that will often surprise the reader.
Dr John Akeroyd always loved plants, even before he was taught at school by the famous botanist Oleg Polunin. He graduated from St Andrews and Cambridge and held fellowships at Trinity College, Dublin, and Reading Universities, researching European flora. Lecturer, tour guide, writer and editor, he co-founded Plant Talk, the first global magazine for plant conservation. He has written or edited seventeen books, including the best-selling Collins Wildguide: Flowers and The Encyclopedia of Wildflowers and many articles. He has travelled widely in Europe, especially Greece and Romania, where he contributes to projects supporting conservation and farming in Transylvania. He enjoys gardening, cookery and folk-rock music.
Donough O'Brien turned to writing after a long marketing career in Britain and the USA. Having visited 51 countries, his first book was Fame By Chance, with places that became famous by a twist of fate. Banana Skins covered the slips that brought the famous down to earth, In The Heat of Battle took a hard look at those who rose to the occasion in warfare, or didn't, and his latest was Who? The Most Remarkable People You've Never Heard of. He and his wife Liz have a house in France, where they wrote From One Hell to Another, about the Spanish in the French resistance, from which John Akeroyd runs botanical tours and where Plants & Us was conceived.
Liz Cowley had a long career as an advertising copywriter and Creative Director. A long-time fan of poetry, she enjoyed success with her first collections A Red Dress and What Am I Doing Here? which were made into a theatrical show in Dublin, then at the West Cork Literary Festival and later in the UK. She became involved with botany working with John Akeroyd on his international magazine Plant Talk, and she turned her gardening hobby into Outside In My Dressing Gown, Gardening in Slippers and Green Fingers, soon to be called 'Britain's gardening poet'. A further humorous poetry book, Pass the Prosecco, Darling! was about cooking dramas. Liz has since written a war novel, From One Hell to Another, with her husband Donough O'Brien, together with three thrillers.