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Dave's Garden Book Review: Plants of Colonial Williamsburg

By Melody Rose (melodyApril 7, 2012

Gardeners love books, as the number of titles devoted to the subject attest. We hope this spotlight on some of our members' favorites is a nice change of pace for your Saturday morning.

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Plants of Colonial Williamsburg

How to Identify 200 of colonial America's flowers, herbs and trees

By: Joan Parry Dutton with illustrations by Marion Ruff Sheehan

Image"Plants have a long human past behind them. They are immortals, the living things that tie together our forefathers' yesterdays and our todays, as they link our own time with endless tomorrows...Maurice Maeterlinck"

While many gardeners might think a book about plants in Colonial Williamsburg might have a limited audience; this is far from the truth. The historical information is useful to anyone interested in the origins of plants.

During the colonial period, huge numbers of plants were exchanged between England and the New World. Colonists wanted familiar fruit trees and vegetables while the English gentry sent explorers to gather anything new and unusual. This was the ‘golden age' of plant collecting and wealthy patrons funded the explorations of many famous botanists. There are brief biographies of some of the more noted collectors and each plant's native range is listed along with historical tidbits and interesting facts.

This handy pocket-sized book gives descriptions, origins and uses of about 200 plants, trees, shrubs and herbs found in colonial Virginia. It explains botanical classifications and Latin terms in a way that even the novice will understand. Readers on both sides of the ‘Pond' will be interested in the dates of introduction and in many cases, documentation of the person or persons who were responsible. Most of the Asian plants use the English date of introduction, since many of them are not documented specifically in the Americas.

Any gardener interested in botanical history should add this book to their library. It is compact, well-written and easy to understand. My dear friend Bonnie sent this little book to me several years ago and it is such a treasure that I felt that I should share it with you. It is relevant and useful for  everyone from the novice to the experienced gardener.

Review this book and other similar titles in our Garden Bookworm.

 Review this book and others in our Garden Bookworm.

  About Melody Rose  
Melody RoseI come from a long line of Kentuckians who love the Good Earth. I love to learn about every living thing, and love to share what I've learned. Photography is one of my passions, and all of the images in my articles are my own, except where credited.

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