If you love language and you love plants, then you’ll love this book. RHS Latin for Gardeners by Lorraine Harrison explains all those tricky-to-pronounce botanical words attached to our dear plants, herbs and flowers.
The book itself – a hardback – has a lovely cover and is nicely bound… it looks pretty on your bookshelf! It is perfect as a reference book and for the odd dip into while drinking a cup of coffee. The main body of the book is an alphabetical list of botanical terms, each explained, with a pronunciation guide too. Here’s an example:
Spiral-shaped; applied to twining plants, as in Hedera helix
Now, I never knew “helix” meant that, but it makes sense….
I also never knew that the “novi-belgii” in Aster novi-belgii means “connected with New York”.
Or that the “bonariensis” in Verbena bonariensis means “from Buenos Aries”!
Or that “saccharata” in Pulmonaria saccharata means “sweet or sugared/as if dusted with sugar”.
And the list of discovery goes on!
I was pleasantly surprised how many I had guessed correctly, such as Cymbalaria muralis (“growing on walls”), and the information hidden within these words delivers excellent guidelines for planting… if a plant is from Buenos Aries it will like heat and sunshine, right?
A bonus is the pages in between the list… a few plants are profiled, with notes on how they got their name or certain associations and uses. And some famous plant hunters are also given a page or two, with examples of the plants they discovered on various continents.
This is the ideal gift for a keen gardener, and absolutely perfect for anyone fascinated by botanical plant names. It is already a favourite of mine, and the gardening season hasn’t even begun!