Flower Chronicles. Since I know nothing about flowers, I bought some wisdom for cents when I got the book, or so I thought. I came back home with big intentions, and a cheap sense of accomplishment, and placed it on the shelf, where it stayed for years.
Recently I opened a small store at Etsy where I sell vintage books, and I was busy cleaning my shelves, finding titles to sell and deciding what to keep, when I glanced at this book. For no reason, I gave it one more chance before selling it. This time I dutifully committed to reading the introduction, and if pass that I still did not like it, then I would try to sell it; but mind you, selling something you do not even believe in it's tough!
The book was written by Buckner Hollingsworth in 1958. His style is gold:
"All gardening is a labor of love. Professionals who earn their living at it are rarely less enthusiastic than are the amateurs who dig and sweat and weed and mulch with so much fervor.
For most of us this enthusiasm stems out of our own past. Few people fail to carry in their memories pictures of a child gathering spring beauties or windflowers in the thin April sunshine; combing a hillside for violets; or squatting in a wood inarticulate but happy at the sight of some rare flower --a painted trillium or a showy orchis.
Out of such memories come botanists, horticulturists, plain dirt gardeners, and flower lovers of all kinds. Out of such memories grew my own lifelong interest in flowers that blossomed eventually into an acute curiosity about flowers in the past. What roles have flowers played throughout history? What relationships have they had with man over all the thousands of years that he has known and loved and used them?
The story of flowers is, in however minor a sense, part of the story of mankind. This book gives the histories of some of our most familiar garden flowers set against the backdrop of human history."
Many books are mentioned, one that I remember, The Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton, was also mentioned in The Highest Pleasure of Life. It was a surprise, but the book mentions several historic events we have been learning about, such as The War of the Roses, The Hundred Year War, The Siege of Calais. English kings and queens, American figures, herbalists, monks, doctors, herbalists, writers, China, The Americas, the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Dutch; legends, stories, speculations, anecdotes, historical events, all these the book contains. It is such a delight to read it.
At the time I was reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking, I was reading in Flower Chronicles about the tulip and the poor Dutch factory workers who grew them from seed, -which took seven years or more-, and who tended to their tulips after full long days at their factories, providing shelter for the delicate tulips by depriving themselves of some of their already scarce clothing. These men did not raise tulips for profit, sometimes that did not come, they clang to the tulips as their only source of beauty, they had a relationship with these plants that gave their dull inhuman lives a meaning. They valued the mosaic colored tulips without knowing the cause of that is a virus. Today gardeners can replicate the effect without the virus present in the plant.Fascinating too was to read about the use of plants on cooking and medicine, the whole book was nice. Flower Chronicles is now one of my favorites.