by H.L.V. Fletcher
I almost didn't read this faded, yellowed book because I thought its dreary cover promised little. I should have known better than to judge it so! Popular Flowering Plants covers dozens of well-known annuals and perennials found in the garden, arranged more or less by families. The friendly discussion looks at all sorts of different varieties with tips on how to grow them, mostly through stories from the author's own gardening experiences. Most interesting was to read about the origins of the flowers and their sometimes confusing nomenclature, as well as their historical culinary and medicinal uses, their occurrence in legends, folklore, and even superstition. For example, Fletcher tells me that carnations were once used to flavor wine, and columbines in jelly; crushed delphinium seeds were used to treat lice in childrens' hair, foxglove leaves for heart conditions, and swiss mountaineers chewed the roots of primrose to dispel vertigo! In this vein, the book reminded me of Weeds in My Garden, and kept sparking my curiosity. Most of the plants mentioned I recognized: roses, lilies, sweet peas, daffodils, sunflowers, tulips, begonias, etc. But there were also a few unfamiliar ones. It's a shame that a book describing all the beautiful colors of flowers only had black and white photographs. But it is old enough that perhaps (judging by the cover) that was the best option, and it still helps some in identifying the plants and their growing habits. A nice little book, useful if you'd like to know more about the particularities and past history of some favored garden plants.
Rating: 3/5........ 158 pages, 1972