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‘A glowing account of the myths and meanings we impose on flowers . . . a book to reread and treasure’ John Carey, Sunday Times

‘A captivating new book that explores our fascination with flowers . . . A delight’ Daily Mail

Come rain or shine, flowers feature perennially in the landscape of human history. Their beauty has inspired some of the greatest works of art and literature, captivating creative minds from Ovid to O’Keeffe, Wordsworth to Van Gogh, Botticelli to Beatrix Potter.

But flowers have also played a key part in forming the past, and may even shape our future. Some have served as symbols of monarchs, dynasties and nations – from the Wars of the Roses to the Order of the Thistle. And while the poppy is often associated with WWI, it was the elderflower that treated its wounded soldiers, joining a long line of healing flowers that have developed modern medicine, including lavender and foxgloves.

From the personal to the political, flowers play a part in all aspects of life: the right rose, according to the Victorian language of flowers, might mend a broken heart, while sunflowers may just save our planet.

This beautifully written collection is at once enchanting and intriguing, weaving together art, science, history and horticulture to offer a fresh perspective on the world around us. The Brief Life of Flowers reveals how even the most ordinary of flowers have extraordinary stories to tell.

Reviews

A glowing account of the myths and meanings we impose on flowers . . . a book to reread and treasure
Sunday Times
A captivating new book that explores our fascination with flowers . . . A delight
Daily Mail
Botanical miscellanies are not thin on the ground but few, if any, offer prose as cultured, scrupulous and engaging
The Spectator
This is a charming, old-fashioned book
Literary Review
I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy this enchanting journey into the very heart of snowdrops, sunflowers, poppies, daisies, roses, and many other beloved flowers. Each is given its own chapter - a perfect pot-pourri of botanical information, history, literature, symbolism, art and herbalism, imaginatively illustrated
Daily Mail
A glorious tour de force . . . My hunch is that The Brief Life of Flowers will last long, evolving from perennial favourite to classic
Country Life