Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Garden of Marvels by Ruth Kassinger

A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants by Ruth Kassinger is one of this year's great discoveries. Kassinger expertly weaves together history, botany, and personal experience to create a book that enlivens the garden by enlightening the gardener.

Kassinger starts with the Greeks, talking about the various misunderstandings that began with them (except for Theophrastus, who apparently had a pretty good idea that plants weren't just like animals) and persisted for centuries and moving on through to the present day with studies of plant genetics and cloning. Mixed with these historical and character sketches is information about what this means for the gardener today often framed in discussions of Kassinger's own clearly much-loved garden.

The prose is lively and clear, and Kassinger is good at sharing her interest with others; I will be looking for more of her work. As a side note: after everything I learned about petunia genetics, I am definitely buying some seeds next year. Those plants are crazy strange! I'm tempted to buy a black petunia, also, because the original plant was a one-time miracle and I'm entranced.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys gardening and/or history and/or just plain good writing

Publication Information
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by William Morrow
ISBN 0062048996 (ISBN13: 9780062048998)

Other Reviews, found through Fyrefly's Book Blog Search
Pages of Julia's Blog
A guest post/the book's intro by Ruth Kassinger on Book Club Girl
Did you write a review I should include? Let me know!

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