The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession

Author(s): Andrea Wulf


One January morning in 1734, cloth merchant Peter Collinson hurried down to the docks at London's Custom House to collect cargo just arrived from John Bartram in the American colonies. But it was not bales of cotton that awaited him, but plants and seeds.Over the next forty years, Bartram would send hundreds of American species to England, where Collinson was one of a handful of men who would foster a national obsession and change the gardens of Britain forever: Philip Miller, author of the bestselling "Gardeners Dictionary"; the Swede Carl Linnaeus, whose standardised botanical nomenclature popularised botany; and, the botanist-adventurer Joseph Banks and his colleague Daniel Solander who both explored the strange flora of Tahiti and Australia on Captain Cook's Endeavour. This is the story of these men - friends, rivals, enemies, united by a passion for plants. Set against the backdrop of the emerging empire and the uncharted world beyond, "The Brother Gardeners" tells the story how Britain became a nation of gardeners.


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A wonderfully readable investigation of the origins of the modern garden in 18th-century England. Popular history at its finest.

"The Brother Gardeners" "is a delightful book. It brings the story of 18th-century gardening to life in a remarkably vivid way, and sheds new light on the personality clashes and prejudices which lay at the root of the Georgians' passion for plants."
--Adrian Tinniswood
"A wondrous telling of the history of the very English love affair with gardens and growing things...I have learned so much from this book."
--Jon Snow
"Andrea's wonderful in-depth narrative of The Brother Gardeners provides a vivid horticultural contrast to the stark destitution instigated by the Enclosure Acts of the same period. A fascinating read for all those with an interest in plants, gardens and social history."
--Steven Poole
"Andrea Wulf captures the spirit of the tenacious men who made Britain the epicentre of horticultural knowledge and expertise in the 18th century. A totally engrossing read."
--Rosie Atkins, Curator, Chelsea Physic Garden
"Immaculately written and researched, this book brings to life the dramas and dangers of eighteenth-century plant collecting. You will never look at the plants in your garden in quite the same way when you know what these intrepid men went through to find them."
--Catherine Horwood
"The Brother Gardeners were a group of men involved in the 18th-century quest for new plants, at a fascinating period in garden history. They were dedicated and in some cases eccentric - Andrea Wulf brings their personalities vividly to life in her thoroughly researched and lively account."
--Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall

"From the Hardcover edition."

Andrea Wulf was born India and moved to Germany as a child. She trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art and is the co-author (with Emma Gieben-Gamal) of This Other Eden: Seven Great Gardens and 300 Years of English History. She has written for the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, Mail on Sunday, The Garden, the Architects' Journal, and regularly reviews for several newspapers, including the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. She is a regular contributor to BBC radio and television.

General Fields

  • : 9780099502371
  • : Penguin Random House
  • : Windmill Books
  • : 0.36
  • : January 2009
  • : 196mm X 130mm X 28mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Andrea Wulf
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : English
  • : 635.094109033
  • : 384