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Book Reviews from December 2016 Newsletter

PLANT – Exploring the Botanical world
This glossy 350 page tome of a book is magnificent. It sets out to portray over 300 images of botanical art in all media. Each page has a large picture in a variety of media, including watercolour, oil, engraving, x-ray photograph and woodcuts. At the top of each page is the artist’s name and below the picture a few paragraphs not only about the artist but also with fascinating facts about the plant depicted. The book covers the entire period of botanical art from the earliest ancient stone carvings and cave paintings to the cutting edge technology of today.
The book has not been arranged in a chronological order however, but has set out to compare images of the same type of plant on opposite pages. For example, a copper plate engraving of Cyclamen from around 1440 by an anonymous artist, known only as the master of the playing cards, is opposite a water colour by Sydenham Edwards of cyclamen from 1807 and engravings from Culpepper’s herbal of 1652 are shown alongside an anonymous and unrecognisable watercolour from Mexico c1552 supposedly depicting herbs.
There is also a superb watercolour by Fiona Strickland of rhododendron “Horizon Monarch” 2014 shown alongside a Joseph Hooker lithograph of Rhodendron Argenteum from around 1849. In fact there are so many fabulous depictions of plants in this book from artists we will recognise, and many who will be new to us, it is sure to appeal to anyone with an interest in Botanical art.
This book is magnificently produced and is definitely not a book to put away on a shelf. It needs to be kept on the coffee table for many hours of interesting perusal. I cannot recommend this book highly enough – it definitely should be on your Christmas present list!
Publishers – Phaiden ISBN 978 0 7148 71486 RRP £39.95 Amazon £26.00

More recently published books (All prices correct at time of writing)

The Botanical Treasury by Christopher Mills
The RHS tells us: This stunning book reveals the story of 40 of the world’s most fascinating plants. The plants are explored and accompanied by gorgeous illustrations. It also includes beautifully reproduced prints of the plants which can be framed.
From Amazon: Every one of the featured plants is extraordinary in some way, be it for its appearance, biology, medicinal properties, or importance to economics, politics, or the arts. Equally extraordinary are the stories associated with the discovery of these plants, revealing the lengths to which collectors and growers would go to find them…….. It is an exceptional gift that will wow gardeners, and anyone else fascinated by the greenery that sustains and inspires us.
Andre Deutsch; 176 pages ISBN 9780233004563 RRP £35 Amazon £21

RHS Floral Colouring Book
From RHS: This RHS colouring book contains forty five beautiful floral images from the world-famous RHS Lindley Library. Each image is interpreted as a pattern to colour, taking inspiration from the forms and shapes of each flower. Use the colour images to inspire you, or give your creations colours of your own choosing.
Frances Lincoln; 96 pages ISBN 978-0711237711 RHS £10.99 & Amazon £12.98

A Wild Plant Year by Christine Hart Davies
From Amazon: Lavishly illustrated with Christina’s vibrant watercolours, A Wild Plant Year explores the cultural history, folklore and medicinal or household uses of many of Britain’s best-loved wild plants. It takes us through a country year waymarked by special days such as Easter, Mothering Sunday, Hallowe’en and Winter Solstice and features the native flowers and plants traditionally associated with each festival or season.
Country names, plant legends and folk medicine have long been a special interest of Christina Hart Davies, one of the country s best known botanical artists and illustrators. Her precisely detailed and accurate paintings perfectly complement the fascinating stories attached to our flora. Six years in the making, this is a celebration of the long heritage of our relationship with Britain’s native plants.
Two Rivers Press; 124 pages ISBN 978-1909747135 £13.48 Amazon