Flower favourites unchanged for over 400 years

Pick of the bunchThe snowdrop is one of a select group of favourite flowers that have remained remarkably constant for more than four centuries.

Late-sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish flower-pieces reveal to us the flowers which were considered most desirable at that time: the rose, iris, carnation and lily – old favourites redolent of the Middle Ages and religious symbolism; the snowdrop, violet and fritillary – ‘natural’ flowers of the meadow and woodland; and the tulip and hyacinth – fashionable bulbs that could command huge sums. A reader poll conducted a few years ago by the BBC found that the rose is the all-time favourite flower, followed closely by the lily, the primrose, the iris and the daffodil.

In Pick of the Bunch , Margaret Willes takes twelve of these enduringly popular flowers and looks at their social history, their symbolism and meaning, the origin of their names, how they arrived in our gardens, how they were bought, acquired and displayed, and who exactly, were their devotees. She also suggests where they can be seen in all their particular glory today, from the spring-time display of fritillaries in Magdalen College Meadows to the late summer fireworks of the Dahlia Walk at Biddulph Grange.

Beautifully illustrated, using the superb collection of botanical illustrations in the Plant Sciences Department and Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, this book is an engagingly written history of the nation’s favourite flowers. It will enthral anyone interested in plant profiles, horticulture, botany and garden development.

Pick of the Bunch,
Bodleian Library Publishing

Author:Margaret Willes Format: 224pp, hardback 194 x 194mm,
approx. 70 colour images ISBN: 978 1 85124 303 7
Price: £19.99