botanical shakespeare - 2

It’s RHS Chelsea all week, and I was lucky enough to go to the preview today – such a treat in the unexpected sunshine, and admire the extraordinary breadth of plants and flowers on display.

Which leads me neatly to two horticultural books which both make a virtue of breadth. The first is Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium of All the Flowers, Fruits, Herbs, Trees, Seeds, and Grasses Cited by the World’s Greatest Playwright, a lovely work of scholarship, which does exactly what it says on the tin

With a foreword by Dame Helen Mirren – the first foreword she has ever contributed, Shakespeare historian Gerit Quealy and Japanese artist Sumie Hasegawa have listed the over 170 flowers, fruits, grains, grasses, trees, herbs, seeds and vegetables that Shakespeare mentions in his plays and poems, with a colour illustration of each, alongside the specific text in which it appears and the character(s) who utter the lines in which it is mentioned.
I was pleased to find my favourite botanical quotation from A Midsummer Night’s Dream within, which mentions not just one, but six different plants and flowers.

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine”

botanical shakespeare - 2

botanical shakespeare - 2

botanical shakespeare - 6

botanical shakespeare - 6

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

The Gardener’s Garden aims to be the ‘ultimate collection of the world’s most outstanding gardens’, arranged geographically by continent. It features over 250 permanent gardens by leading garden designers, horticulturalists and landscape architects, including Capability Brown, John Brookes, Sir Charles Jencks and Thomas Jefferson, via Dan Pearson, Beth Chatto, Topher Delaney, Madison Cox, Piet Oudolf and Derek Jarman and more, ranging from the 14th century to the present day.

From Iran to Gloucestershire, California to Dungeness, the book covers every possible gardening genre ranging from the classicism of Villa d’Este in Italy to the quintessentially 21st century urban space of the High Line in Manhattan, and encompasses a vast array of garden types (courtyard, rooftop, parks, orchards, landscape gardens, kitchen gardens, water gardens) and garden styles (cottage, English, formal, alpine, tropical, Renaissance, Mediterranean and New Perennial).

Unlike many coffee table books, it is actively useful, as well as aesthetically pleasing: Each entry includes a selection of images showing overviews and planting details through the seasons, with accompanying text listing both design and planting features. Key details such as the location, designer, date, type, style, size and climate are also listed for each garden.

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

The Gardeners Garden Book Phaidon - 10

Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium of All the Flowers, Fruits, Herbs, Trees, Seeds, and Grasses Cited by the World’s Greatest Playwright by Gerit Quealy, Sumie Hasegawa Collins, with a foreword by Helen Mirren, and published by Harper Design. £15.58

The Gardener’s Garden is edited by Toby Musgrave. Ruth Chivers, and Madison Cox, and published by Phaidon. £29.95

Both books were sent as review copies in spring 2017.

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Those books are so refreshing to the eyes, that even non-flower lovers would easily appreciate! I, for one, would love to get copies for myself when my flat is fully furnished!

– Aaliyah, writemy.report

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