Brooklyn Botanic Garden Gardener's Desk Reference

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Gardener's Desk Reference

by Janet Marinelli

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The ultimate gardening reference work compiled by two dozen of the world's leading plant experts under the auspices of one of the world's greatest botanical gardens.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Gardener's Desk Reference is a milestone in garden publishing, the kind of groundbreaking work that appears once in a lifetime. No gardening reference--ever--has combined this scope of information in a single volume.

The coverage in most gardening reference books falls into a few standard horticultural categories. The Gardener's Desk Reference unlocks the door to a vast assortment of plant knowledge from around the world. There is enough information in this single volume to serve any plant enthusiast--beginning and professional alike--over a lifetime.

For easy use, the wide-ranging material is divided into twenty different sections-- such as:

Botany for Gardeners
Kitchen Gardening
The Horticultural Traveler
Weights, Measures, and Conversions

The hundreds of indispensable sidebars, graphs, tables, plant lists, maps, and illustrations found throughout the reference make it even more accessible and attractive. To do justice to the continent's breathtaking diversity of climates and plant communities, all plant lists are organized by region, and every recommended species or cultivar has been chosen by an experienced landscaper tested by years of gardening in the area.

Never before have gardeners had access to the breadth and quality of information in this authoritative reference.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250128249
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/28/2016
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 832
File size: 27 MB
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About the Author

Janet Marinelli is the director of publishing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She is the author of Stalking the Wild Amaranth, Your Natural Home, and The Naturally Elegant Home. She lives in Brooklyn.

Janet Marinelli is the director of publishing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She is the author of Stalking the Wild Amaranth: Gardening in an Age of Extinction, Your Natural Home and The Naturally Elegant Home. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Read an Excerpt

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Gardener's Desk Reference

By Janet Marinelli, Stephen K-M. Tim

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 1998 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-12824-9



From antiquity to the present day, countless people have contributed to our knowledge of plants and gardening. It would be impossible to list each and every one, but here are some of the most influential people throughout history who have made significant contributions in botany, horticulture, landscaping, and related fields.

Adanson, Michel(1727–1806)

A French naturalist and plant systematist, Adanson spent four years in Senegal, West Africa, and became one of the first scientists to learn the flora and fauna of the tropics and recognize how different they were from those of temperate regions. Adanson formally organized all plant genera into families and published an opus on his work, called Familles des Plantes. This publication presented a new concept of plant relationships and introduced a new approach to naming plants, although his nomenclature system was considered too radical to replace the binomial system of Linnaeus.

Bailey, Liberty Hyde, Jr.(1858–1954)

An American horticulturist, Bailey began his career working under Asa Gray as assistant curator of the herbarium at Harvard University, where he was also in charge of nomenclature for the gardens, greenhouses, and herbaria. He later became a professor of horticulture and landscape gardening at Michigan State (Agricultural) College, and in 1888 he moved on to Cornell University. Bailey was the founder and president of the American Society for Horticultural Science and of the Botanical Society of America. He also founded and developed the Bailey Hortorium of the New York State College of Agriculture, which publishes the quarterly Baileya. Liberty Hyde Bailey is best remembered for Hortus, the comprehensive, widely used encyclopedia of plants that he compiled with his daughter Ethel.

Banks, Joseph(1743–1820)

An English botanist, plant collector, and explorer in the late eighteenth century, Banks had a great deal of family wealth, which he used to fund his many expeditions. He had resolved as a boy to become a botanist, and his first trip was to Labrador and Newfoundland to study the plants there. Beginning in 1769, he made a three-year voyage to the South Pacific with Captain James Cook, accompanied by botanist Daniel Solander (1736–1782). Another voyage was planned with Cook in 1772, but the trip fell through, and Banks went to Iceland instead. Banks was active in shaping the science policy of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. He advocated the study of science and natural history, particularly botany and horticulture, and helped in founding the Horticultural Society of London (now the Royal Horticultural Society), of which he was president for forty-two years. He also played a part in establishing the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, bringing seeds and plants from all around the world to help expand its horticultural collections.

Barton, Benjamin Smith(1766–1815)

The first professor of botany at the University of Pennsylvania, Barton had Meriwether Lewis among his students. He promoted the idea of a comprehensive flora of North America, but never succeeded in writing it. However, he did publish Elements of Botany, the first botanical textbook in the United States.

Bartram, John(1699–1777)

A Quaker farmer born in Pennsylvania, Bartram has been called "the father of American botany." Linnaeus himself dubbed him "the greatest natural botanist of his time." Together with his son William (1739–1823), Bartram made many expeditions collecting seeds, bulbs, roots, cuttings, and plants of native American species, which he then shipped to England. In 1765, he was appointed royal botanist in the American colonies by King George III. Bartram established a botanical garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bosenberg, Henry F.(dates unknown)

The first person to obtain a United States plant patent, on August 18, 1931. Plant Patent No. 1 covered the climbing rose New Dawn, which blooms successively throughout the season instead of in June only.

Bridgeman, Thomas(dates unknown)

An American who published the first gardener's manual in 1835. Called the Young Gardener's Assistant, the manual contained a catalog of vegetable and flower seeds with practical instructions for cultivation.

Britton, Nathaniel Lord(1859–1934)

Britton was an American botanist who established the New York Botanical Garden, inspired by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England. He was responsible for developing the NYBG's comprehensive botanical library and reference herbarium. He also wrote several floras, including Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada, the first fully illustrated flora on any part of North America, written with Judge Addison Brown from 1896 to 1898.

Brown, Lancelot "Capability"(1715–1783)

An English landscape gardener who created parks for the gentry and nobility in the late eighteenth century, Brown was eventually appointed Master Gardener to King George III. He was nicknamed "Capability Brown" because he would tell his clients that their property had "great capabilities." Brown helped advance a revolution in English garden design, which had been very formal. He removed knot gardens, formal parterres, gravel walks, and topiaries, and replaced them with meandering paths and streams, gently rolling hills, and serpentine lakes. He softened formal elements and eliminated straight lines and geometric shapes. His ideal landscape was somewhere between utilitarian and wild. He believed in tastefully improving on nature. Brown was an architect as well as a landscape gardener; the mansions and other buildings he designed were usually practical as well as ornamental. Among the many famous English gardens he designed are Stowe, Castle Ashby, Coombe Abbey, and Milton Abbey.

Budding, Edwin B.(dates unknown)

The Englishman who invented the lawn mower in the 1830s, revolutionizing the gardens of the nineteenth century. Before that time, lawns had frequently been kept trimmed by goats and other livestock, or by gardeners wielding scythes.

Burbank, Luther(1849–1926)

An American naturalist and plant breeder, Burbank had a flair for observing minute differences between plants, and was able to develop and extend these through techniques like hybridizing and grafting. He began his botanical work in 1870 on a small farm in Massachusetts, where he developed the Burbank potato. In 1875, he moved to California and began developing new varieties of fruit. In his fifty years there, he introduced sixty varieties of plum and ten varieties of berry. Burbank also bred many new ornamental plants, such as the fire poppy, the Burbank rose, the Shasta daisy, and the ostrich-plume clematis. He never quite accepted, however, that plant variations were determined genetically at the time of seed fertilization, but believed instead in the inheritance of acquired characteristics.

Camerarius, Rudolph Jacob(1665–1721)

A German botanist and university professor, Camerarius wrote to another professor in 1694 to report that pistillate flowers failed to produce seed in the absence of staminate flowers. His conclusion was that the anthers with their pollen were the male organs, and that the style and ovary were the female parts of the flower. Although he was not the first to make this observation, his subsequent scientific experiments confirmed it, and he is now credited with the discovery of sexuality in plants.

Candolle, Augustin Pyramus de(1778–1841)

A French plant taxonomist who introduced new and significant principles of plant classification; his system of classification is largely in use to this day. De Candolle's family had fled to Switzerland from religious persecution in France, but in 1798 he returned to France to pursue his botanical studies. In 1813, he invented the word "taxonomy" to describe the science of classification, and he proposed that morphology is the basis of taxonomy. He also developed a theory of symmetry in the structure of plants, especially the floral organs. De Candolle created the Conservatoire Botanique and Botanical Garden in Geneva, Switzerland. He also wrote most of the first seven volumes of the Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, the only comprehensive flora of the world. The remaining volumes were completed by his son Alphonse (1806–1893).

Church, Thomas Dolliver(1902–1978)

An American landscape architect who studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Harvard in the late 1920s. In the 1930s, he was famous for creating the so-called California garden, characterized by formality and native plantings, and influenced by Cubism. He recognized that the era of the grand estate garden in America was coming to an end, and believed that gardens should have a more human scale. Church promoted the concept of the garden as an "outdoor room" in his book Gardens Are for People, published in 1955. He designed landscapes for the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, Stanford University, Longwood Gardens, and more than two thousand private residences. One of his most famous gardens is the El Novillero garden in Sonoma, California, which he designed in 1947.

Clements, Frederic E.(1874–1945)

An American plant ecologist, Clements was a leading promoter of what came to be known as "dynamic ecology." As head of the botany department at the University of Minnesota, he put his students to work doing hands-on experiments measuring the factors in the environments of living organisms and studying the behavior of plants under controlled conditions. Clements crisscrossed the continent studying the vegetation associations of North America and wrote books dealing with plant succession and climax communities, classification of plant communities, climatic cycles, and methods for determining what plants are native to an area after disturbance has taken place.

Colden, Jane(1724–?)

The first woman botanist to distinguish herself in America. By the age of thirty-four, in 1758, she had described four hundred plants according to the Linnaean method, using English terms.

Curtis, William(1746–1799)

An apothecary in London who sold his practice in 1771 to establish a botanic garden, Curtis is best known as the founder of the first popular garden periodical, The Botanical Magazine, launched in 1775. The magazine was immediately successful and has continued to the present day. Curtis was also Demonstrator of Botany to the Society of Apothecaries at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Dioscorides, Pedanius(A.D. 20–?)

Born in ancient Turkey, Dioscorides was a founder of botany and the author of De Materia Media, a famous herbal that was used for over a thousand years. He traveled widely in search of plants, mostly to seek out their usefulness for medicinal purposes. The five volumes of his herbal included six hundred plants and nearly a thousand drugs, all described objectively, accurately, and without superstition (uncommon for that time).

Downing, Andrew Jackson(1815–1852)

An American nurseryman, landscape designer, and writer who has been called "the father of American landscape gardening," Downing admired the English School of Landscape Gardening, from which he formed an American approach. His landscapes had a naturalistic look, with serpentine lines, soft grasslands, and wooded copses, and were well adapted to American middle-class homes of the mid-nineteenth century. Downing also drew early plans for the gardens of the White House and the Smithsonian Institution. He began a partnership with Calvert Vaux in 1849. Downing wrote the influential book, The Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, and was a founding editor of The Horticulturist (or Journal of Rural Art & Rural Taste).

Farrand, Beatrix Jones(1872–1959)

Farrand was a leading landscape architect in America and admirer of Gertrude Jekyll. She was from an old New York family and did most of her work on the East Coast, where she designed the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Maine, as well as gardens for the Rockefellers, the Morgans, the White House, Yale and Princeton Universities, and the New York Botanical Garden. Overall, she worked as a consultant and designer on more than two hundred gardens. She was also a founding member and the first woman to be elected a charter fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1899, at age twenty-seven. In 1927, Farrand became a consulting landscape gardener to Yale University. She and her husband, Max Farrand, also moved to San Marino, California, in 1927, but she was unable to get much work there and ended up commuting back and forth to the East Coast to continue her work. She did, however, become a consultant to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden from 1938 until her death.

Fernald, Merritt Lyndon(1873–1950)

An American botanist who served as curator of the Gray Herbarium at Harvard University from 1935 to 1937, and director of the herbarium for the next ten years, Fernald wrote the eighth edition of Gray's Manual of Botany in 1950, based on his vast field work. He was also a pioneering botanical explorer in Labrador and Newfoundland, and in the Coastal Plain of Virginia.

Fortune, Robert(1812–1880)

Fortune was an English botanical explorer who traveled to China and brought back plants such as the popular bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), Chinese anemone (Anemone hupehensis), doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum), and weigela (Weigela florida). He was very successful at sending living plants from China to England using the Wardian case (a new invention at the time), a glass box that kept plants moist by preventing the evaporation of moisture.

Fraser, John(1750–1811)

A Scottish plant collector, Fraser traveled in Newfoundland and much of the southeastern United States in the late 1700s. His son, John, accompanied him on his travels, and together they introduced plants like mountain rosebay (Rhododendron catawbiense), Fraser magnolia (Magnolia fraseri), and Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) to Europe. He was very successful at transporting living plants across the sea to Europe, probably by packing them in sphagnum moss found in the boreal bogs he explored. Fraser was appointed botanical collector by the czar of Russia in 1797.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von(1749–1832)

A German poet who also wrote on scientific subjects (often incorrectly), Goethe coined the word "morphology" to represent the systematic study of the structure of living things, and his writing laid the groundwork for the next two hundred years of plant morphology research.

Gray, Asa(1810–1888)

An American botanist and plant taxonomist, Asa Gray is known as the founder of systematic botany in the United States. In 1835, he was appointed Curator and Librarian of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, where he wrote the first of a series of botanical textbooks called Elements of Botany. He collaborated with John Torrey on the Flora of North America from 1838 to 1843. Gray then became a professor of natural history and the head of the botanic garden at Harvard University, where he created the Gray Herbarium and Library. In 1848, he wrote the Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States (also known as Gray's Manual of Botany). Gray was a pioneer in plant geography, and he made a great impact with his hypothesis that the similar floras in eastern Asia and eastern North America are the relicts of preglacial flora that once encircled the globe. This theory had practical ramifications, as it drew the conclusion that plants from Japan and other Asian countries are compatible with the climate of eastern North America. Collectors were soon bringing these plants back to the United States in great numbers.

Hales, Stephen(1677–1761)

An English chemist and plant physiologist, Hales was most interested in the respiration of plants and animals. He conducted elaborate experiments on the absorption of water and air by growing plants, eventually demonstrating that it is the leaves that absorb air. He also recognized that air contributes to the nourishment of plants, and that light plays a vital role in plant growth. For these studies he came to be considered the founder of plant physiology.

Hall, George Rogers(1820–1899)

An American physician and plant collector living in Japan who sent numerous plant samples back to the United States, including Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), which was to become an invasive weed in the East and Southeast, transforming the woodlands by overwhelming the native vegetation. He also brought the first Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) to North America; it is also showing signs of invasiveness, particularly in southern New England.


Excerpted from The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Gardener's Desk Reference by Janet Marinelli, Stephen K-M. Tim. Copyright © 1998 Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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