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Book Review: Flora Illustrata

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book Flora Illustrata for free in exchange for my honest review.

Flora Illustrata edited by Susan M. Fraser and Vanessa Bezemer Sellers throws open the doors to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Gardens. Published in time to mark the gardens 125th anniversary, this large book shares eight centuries of work and makes that work accessible to everyone. The book focuses on five distinct areas – the library, great books and prints, groundbreaking works, celebrated works, and the landscape of the New York Botanical Garden. This book is a must have for anyone with a passion for horticulture or botany.

The illustrations in the book are very well done – and many are in color. Each illustration is well explained and the artwork is simply outstanding. That alone is worth purchasing the book for. Here are two of the illustrations seen in the book.

 

The photo above – according to the book – was the first printed illustration of Anthurium gladiifolium. I love the way all the various parts of this aroid are drawn and labeled. I believe this photo says much about the history of horticulture and the importance of knowledge to our ancestors.

 

This photo is a seed warehouse shown in a catalogue in 1892. The photo caught my eye because of the details and the amount of work that was – and still is – necessary for seed suppliers to collect, store and fulfill our orders.

This book is filled with rare manuscripts, iconic books to Renaissance herbals, explorers’ notebooks, plus drawings, engravings and more. It is truly a treasure trove of botanical and horticulture history. Pick one up for yourself and keep in mind this book also makes a great gift for the plant enthusiast on your list. Be sure to set aside some time once the book arrives though as it is 291 pages not counting the index. This book is a great coffee table book as well and is sure to attract interest and invite conversation.

For those in the New York area or who are visiting the area, stop by the New York Botanical Garden to view the exhibition Flora Illustrate: A Celebration of Botanical Masterworks which runs from November 15, 2014 through January 19, 2015.

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