Bingo 25: Flora
I have to admit I was starting to despair about having to use a gardening book from the library which didn’t interest me for the Flora square, but then I found this:
In case you can’t see under the library sticker, the title is Chrysanthemums. Also, am I the only one wondering if that’s a pen name or just really fortuitous coincidence for the author?
This is supposed to be a cultural and horticultural history, which is super interesting since I know that the chrysanthemum has had a lot of symbolic meaning in Asia for a long time. This may have set me up for some disappointment because there’s only one chapter on the history (botanical, literary, artistic, etc) of the chrysanthemum in China and Japan. The rest of the book discusses the flower in England. There’s actually quite a lot and it’s pretty interesting to see how various gardeners experimented with varieties, as well as some insight into English gardening history, which is pretty extensive itself.
The other problem I had with this book is that it’s not very organized; chapters jump around from art to botany to history to literary facts without really explaining or focusing much on any of it. I get that there’s a lot of detail to go through but this reads kind of like listing brief summaries of every cool thing without any kind of narrative or clear organization.
There is a lot of interesting factoids though, like the all of the classifying and re-classifying of flowers at some point placed in the Chrysanthemum family over time. There are also quite a few pretty pictures including photos of flowers but also drawings from various botanical books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There’s also some photos of people and exhibitions, as well as pieces of art, including paintings, clothing, and pottery.
It would have been nice if the book had gotten into the later 20th century a little though since I’m rather curious if the pot of mums on my front step technically qualify under this category or not today, and if so, how closely related my variety is to the original varietals. I realize I could probably look it up online, but still, that’s an especially common flower today, and I’d like to know how or rather when this general variety or name came into common use.