The lotus. The lily. The sunflower. The opium poppy. The rose. The tulip. The orchid. Seven flowers, each with its own story full of surprises and secrets, each affecting the world around us in subtle but powerful ways. But what is the nature of their power and how did it develop? Why have these particular plants become the focus of gardens, literature, art—even billion dollar industries?
The answers to these questions and more are what drove journalist and author Jennifer Potter to write Seven Flowers. Drawing on sources both ancient and modern, and featuring lush full-color illustrations and gorgeous line art throughout, Potter examines our changing relationship with these potent plants and the effects they had on civilizations through the ages. The opium poppy, for example, returned to haunt its progenitors in the West, becoming the source of an enormously profitable drug trade in Asia. In the seventeenth century, the irrational exuberance of the Dutch for rare tulips led to a nationwide financial collapse. Potter also explores how different cultures came to view the same flowers in totally different lights. While Confucius saw virtue and modesty in his native orchids, the ancient Greeks saw only lust and sex.
In the eye of each beholder, these are flowers of life and death; of purity and passion; of greed, envy and virtue; of hope and consolation; of the beauty that drives men wild. All seven demonstrate the enduring ability of flowers to speak metaphorically—if we could only decode what they have to say.
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Jennifer Potter writes about the history and culture of plants, gardeners and gardens. She reviews regularly for the Times Literary Supplement, and has been variously a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, a Hawthornden Fellow and an Honorary Teaching Fellow on the Warwick Writing Program.Review:
Praise for Strange Blooms:
“A tour de force . . . We owe Potter a huge debt of gratitude for the tireless research and sifting of evidence that have allowed the Tradescants and their great legacy to emerge so clearly at last.” —Sunday Times
“Beautifully produced and meticulously researched.” —Observer
“Masterly . . . Jennifer Potter's achievement in Strange Blooms is to have breathed life back into the Tradescant name.” —Times Literary Supplement
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