In for a Penny: A Prospect of Kew Gardens, Their Flora, Fauna and Falballas by Wilfrid Blunt

In for a Penny: A Prospect of Kew Gardens, Their Flora, Fauna and Falballas by Wilfrid Blunt lands on the shelves of my shop, where it will be found in my History Individual Organisations section.

London: Hamish Hamilton in association with The Tyron Gallery, 1978, (First Edition) Hardback in dust wrapper.

Contains: Black & white photographs; Colour plates; Black & white drawings; Maps [1];

From the cover: It is surprising that no full-length historical survey of Kew Gardens has appeared since W. J. Beans The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1908, so this book by Wilfrid Blunt is particularly welcome. He traces the story of the development and ultimate fusion of the two royal estates, the Richmond and Kew Gardens, which constitute Kew as we know it today. Queen Caroline, wife of George II, established her tame rustic poet, Thresher Duck, in preposterous follies in the Richmond Gardens, while about 1760 her daughter-in-law Augusta, the Dowager Princess of Wales, employed Sir William Chambers to erect in the Kew Gardens the famous Pagoda and other falballas, some of which still survive. With the help of Lord Bute, Augusta also created a botanic garden and arboretum which gave Kew the scientific slant that it has ever since retained.

Apart from describing the historical progress of the Gardens their rescue from the threat of extinction in 1841 and their subsequent triumphant development under Sir William Hooker and his son Joseph Wilfrid Blunt provides fascinating and often highly entertaining accounts of incidents and people connected with Kew, for example: the battles fought by the intransigent Sir Joseph which gave cartoonists such scope; the eventful journey of David Nelson, a young Kew gardener, tending Captain Blighs cargo of breadfruit; Clements Markham and Henry Wickham through whose ingenuity quinine and rubber were transplanted from South America first to the Gardens and then to the Far East where they flourished; and the amazing innovation of women gardeners in Kew itself.

As Wilfrid Blunt confesses, his approach to his subject is personal, capricious and irreverent. In For a Penny is not a guidebook, it is much more than that and anyone who reads it will find a doubled pleasure in a visit to the finest botanic garden in the world.

Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper.

Green boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. 218 pages. Index. 9½” x 6½”.


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