The editorial team responsible for this work deserve the highest praise. There is no dust jacket, and the canvas type of cover, combined with the stunning illustration at the right, immediately transports one back to the fine flower books of the nineteenth century. In an instant one is captivated and experiences a mood shift from the mundane to the sublime.
And this impression is both reinforced and enhanced as page after page yields artwork that hearkens back to the glorious illustrations of renowned floral artists like P. J. Redouté. The style is reminiscent of Redouté and a comparable level of inner warmth is generated by the pictures. I freely confess to leafing through the book when I first received it, page by page, and finding myself awash in the pleasure of the artwork. I confidently predict that I will do this over and over again.
The actual purpose of the book is to explain the history of binomial nomenclature, the practical use of the system, and its current application, which is basically unchanged since Linnaeus devised it in his Species Plantarum of 1753. Due credit is given to the advances in classification brought about by DNA analysis and the name changes which have resulted from molecular work.
The main body of the work consists of a breakdown of the Latin names for plants, arranged alphabetically, each section beginning with a glorious illustration of a flower intertwined into the capital letter.
It is a veritable treasure trove of information from the very first page to the final exquisite illustration of a Dahlia. And even the inner front and back covers are filled with eye-pleasing leaves, stems and ferns. This book delivers satisfaction and deep pleasure on every single page.
The index of common names links the vernacular to the scientific and the format used is bold and striking and makes for very easy reading.
Ross Bayton, a former editor of the BBC's Gardener's World assembled this majestic work of reference, with introductory essays by John David, Head of Horticultural Taxonomy, Royal Horticultural Society, Brent Elliott, Royal Horticultural Society Librarian (retired), Alastair Culham, Curator of the University of Reading Herbarium, and James Armitage, Editor of The Plantsman. A stellar group indeed.
Some books find their way to your shelf and barely make the journey off them again. I guarantee that will not happen with this work. Better buy two copies for one might become dog-eared from repeated use!
Selected images from The Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names - with more than 5,000 entries by Ross Bayton.
Copyright © 2020 by Quarto Publishing plc. Published by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission.
Hardcover - US$29.95 - 9780691200170 - 352 pages - 350 colour drawings - 8 1/2 in. x 11 in.
Publication date: 25 February 2020