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The Brother Gardeners [Kindle Edition]

Andrea Wulf
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $12.79
You Save: $5.16 (29%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began in America.
In 1733, colonial farmer John Bartram shipped two boxes of precious American plants and seeds to Peter Collinson in London. Around these men formed the nucleus of a botany movement, which included famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus; Philip Miller, bestselling author of The Gardeners Dictionary; and Joseph Banks and David Solander, two botanist explorers, who scoured the globe for plant life aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavor. As they cultivated exotic blooms from around the world, they helped make Britain an epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. The Brother Gardeners paints a vivid portrait of an emerging world of knowledge and gardening as we know it today.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wulf, a German-born journalist, wonderfully conveys the allure and cultural importance of the garden. Spanning nearly 100 years and several continents, Wulf begins her cultural investigation with the creation of the first manmade hybrid by devout Christian gardener Thomas Fairchild, who spent the rest of his life racked with guilt for the blasphemous act. She also introduces egomaniacal Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who scandalized British society with his sexual system of classification; his book was banned by the Vatican. There is New World farmer John Bartram, who braved storms and steep mountains to discover new plants and send them back to his customers in England, hungry for exotic vegetation from America. As Wulf fills her readily accessible book with adventures aboard Captain Cook's ship, petty rivalries and outsized personalities, she provides an entertaining account of kooky botanists traveling the world and explores how gardening neutralized class lines, how horticulture and botany brought wealth and power, and how the English garden had a profound impact on modern landscape gardening, elevating the humble pursuit into the highest art. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

In Wulf’s engaging account, the origin of the English country garden appears as a matter of friendship as much as of flowers—a collaborative effort between two men and two countries. In 1733, a humble American farmer, John Bartram, sent seeds of plants native to the American colonies to a London cloth merchant, Peter Collinson, who went on to lead a dedicated group of British enthusiasts in introducing American species to Britain. Previously, English gardens had been dominated by turf, topiary, and strict geometric rules; the arrival of new plants well suited to the climate transformed them into places of movement and color, and a source of immense national pride. That such a quintessentially English obsession should have its roots in foreign soil is an irony not lost on Wulf, a design historian who grew up in Germany.
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Product Details

  • File Size: 3470 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (March 30, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002361NIM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,162 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf April 9, 2009
The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf

I originally meant to alert a friend about this book and ended up being completely surprised by the scope of the book and it's rapt attention to history, which is my first love.

Prior to the dawn of the 18th Century and into the early 1700's scientists were of the notion that plants did not reproduce sexually. They held forth a myriad of scenarios by which plants were replicated.

Thomas Fairchild, a nurseryman in England, could not have disagreed more. Fairchild took it upon himself to cross pollenate a Carnation with a Sweet William and a new species was born.

By 1733 an enterprising cloth merchant in London received 2 cases of plants from the Colonies
and became the first real merchant of garden plants as we know them today. But this was just the beginning.

Ms Wulf traces the the English love of gardening through history- including the Voyages of Discovery by Sir Lord Banks and his journey around the world- only the 2nd Western vessel to round the Horn of Africa and on into the Indian Ocean, all the while gathering more plants and specimens.

Captain Cooks voyages are chronicled, as well as the acquisition by Lord Banks of the famed Linnaeuss collection from Sweden, all in a most readable style and engaging format.

The book is illustrated throughout and contains a superbly cross referenced Glossary for the uninitiated gardener. With an extensive Bibliography this is a book, that while about garening- is about so much more.

I highly reccommend this book for the Amatuer Gardener as well as the Armchair Historian.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Compelling History June 13, 2009
The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession
One of the best written and organized books that I have read in quite some years. What could be a pretty esoteric topic becomes a wonderfully interesting and germane story. To some extent it reminds me of Kurlansky's Cod although this work is even better written.

The book comes alive because the author captures so well the personalities of the people involved. Bartram and Collinson are so human. And their problems in keeping up a relationship at such a distance is beautifully and sypathetically portrayed. Linnaeus is wonderfully and humanly portrayed. What a genius, what a jerk! Reminds me to some extent of Richard Wagner, one of my favorite composers, but one of the most
egotistical and sometimes downright nasty people that one is likely to
meet. The same sort of self-aggrandizing individual as Linnaeus. Banks, who, at first, seems (and evidently was) completely heartless, becomes more humane as he ages. And I love the irascible Miller who is a genius in his own way and knows best about everything (which often he does), but can be irritating to those with less knowledge and ability, and too dogmatic to see the virtue of Linnaeus' system. And the charming Solander, who has the guts to abandon Linnaeus, is amusing as the scholar and drawing room raconteur (some great scenes when Banks saves his life and they enjoy the splendors--and women--of Tahiti together).
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars plant collectors May 31, 2009
Brother Gardeners is a delight to read. It is full of interesting stories about the major figures of plantsmanship in the eighteenth century. The illustrations are excellent. I am interested in botanical art, and I thought this would be a fairly dry read, but it is extraordinarily chatty and entertaining.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, well-written book October 28, 2009
The Brother Gardeners is a compelling read, chronicling the colorful men who made their mark on the horticultural world in the 18th and 19th centuries. You'll meet John Bartram, the unsophisticated American who in collaboration with his English friend Peter Collinson (who he never met), changed the landscape of Britain with the North American plants he sent to that country. The clash of personalities, egos, and sensibilities are riveting as Wulf describes the English resistance to Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus system of classifying plants because it was based on a sexual system of ordering - and perhaps more importantly because Linnaeus was self-promoting and arrogant. Linnaeus was a genius, and ultimately he transformed plant classification and nomenclature, but he irritated people, and that caused them to resist his innovative ideas. You'll meet Daniel Solander, Linnaeus' protégé, who deserted his mentor in favor of his newfound British colleagues who were enchanted with his engaging personality as well as his botanical skills and knowledge. Another important player is Joseph Banks who built on the achievements of these people by consolidating practical horticulture, systematic botany and imperial expansion into a coherent enterprise. The people involved in the early years of horticultural exploration, classification, and plant trading are fascinating, and the stories and interrelationships of the key men are beautifully told in this excellent book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As described--fast delivery!!
Published 2 months ago by Michelle L. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and delightful window into the infancy of the modern gardening...
What a charming book! I loved the botanical details, but most of all I loved learning about the friendships and little squabbles between these fascinating 18th century gentlemen... Read more
Published 2 months ago by S. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book just as discribed
Published 3 months ago by Sally long
3.0 out of 5 stars it can become a bit tedious and sometimes repetitive if you lose...
I personally found this to be a very interesting book with a lot of history and botany details. For a serious gardener it probably rates 4 stars--or more. Read more
Published 4 months ago by William F. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful. A fascinating history of gardening in the U
Just wonderful. A fascinating history of gardening in the U.S. and Great Britain. A must for gardeners!
Published 7 months ago by Margaret M. Joffrion
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 8 months ago by Leslie Shields
5.0 out of 5 stars a read for every gardner
amazing how plants and gardners travel.
Published 8 months ago by Elizabeth W. Carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A five star American story.
Published 9 months ago by curt bean
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read
I was assigned this book for class and I was honestly dreading reading it. I am not really into plants and gardening but this book is about so much more. Read more
Published 15 months ago by CocoK
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for gardeners and historians
This is a wonderful book for a gardener and anyone wanting to know about the travel of plants around the world. I hightly recommend it.
Published 17 months ago by Nancy R. Wilson
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