The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession

Andrea Wulf, Author . Knopf $29.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-307-27023-8

Wulf, a German-born journalist, wonderfully conveys the allure and cultural importance of the garden. Spanning nearly 100 years and several continents, Wulf begins her cultural investigation with the creation of the first manmade hybrid by devout Christian gardener Thomas Fairchild, who spent the rest of his life racked with guilt for the blasphemous act. She also introduces egomaniacal Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who scandalized British society with his sexual system of classification; his book was banned by the Vatican. There is New World farmer John Bartram, who braved storms and steep mountains to discover new plants and send them back to his customers in England, hungry for exotic vegetation from America. As Wulf fills her readily accessible book with adventures aboard Captain Cook's ship, petty rivalries and outsized personalities, she provides an entertaining account of kooky botanists traveling the world and explores how gardening neutralized class lines, how horticulture and botany brought wealth and power, and how the English garden had a profound impact on modern landscape gardening, elevating the humble pursuit into the highest art. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/16/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 350 pages - 978-0-434-01612-9
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-09-950237-1
Paperback - 354 pages - 978-0-307-45475-1
Open Ebook - 252 pages - 978-0-307-27147-1
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4464-3956-2
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