cloth, 352 pp., $50.00
From its beginnings as a private recreational landscape for the British royal family, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has evolved into a leading force in the horticultural world. Tracing its fascinating history over the past 250 years, author Allen Paterson, a scholar and distinguished horticulturist, uses his deft literary hand in bringing to life both the institution and the individuals who played a part in its development. When imperialist Britain was expanding its colonial control over foreign lands and the directors of Kew were influential in introducing economic crops, the Royal Botanic Garden was at "the Centre of the Empire." At the turn of the twentieth century, plant science secured a leading role, which it continues today with Kew's focus on global conservation through its Millennium Seed Bank Project. The book is lush with fine photographs of the grounds at Kew and Wakehurst Place, a subsidiary country site noted for its documented collections of species from the Southern Hemisphere. Paterson's narrative guides the reader through the grounds of both gardens, and helpful location maps supplement the text.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden