The Big Book of Blooms
Thames & Hudson
How much joy can be packed between the covers of a book? An infinite amount when it comes to Yuval Zommer’s splendiferous botanical offering. I put my hand up to being a botany enthusiast having studied the subject at A-level and spending a gap year working in the herbarium at Kew so have an abiding interest in the subject but I defy anyone not to be bowled over by this visual stunner.
Topically organised the basics are covered in the first few spreads – floral families, plant anatomy,
pollination and reproduction, followed by a look at some of the useful things flowers provide.
Next is a zoom in to some specific kinds of flora: the carnivorous Venus flytrap (there’s just a single species and it grows wild in swamps and bogs on the East coast of the USA); roses – I was astonished to read that it takes 15.4 litres of water to produce a single flower; the ancient proteas that could be found as long ago as 90 million years when dinosaurs roamed the earth; cherry blossom trees with their delicate pink and white flowers that delight so many of us in the springtime; tulips, giant water lilies and another carnivore– the Pitcher plants.
Some flowers, despite their striking, sometimes beautiful appearance, smell something rotten. That’s to attract carnivorous pollinators such as carrion flies; but to my vegetarian sensibilities, their ‘rotting meat smell’ would be a huge turn off: the ‘Stinking Flowers’ spread was the only one I didn’t linger long over: I could almost smell the odour emanating from that parasitic corpse lily that lacks roots, shoots, stems and leaves.
Despite the exotic nature of a number of the flowers featured I think my favourite spread of all is that devoted to wild flowers, some of which are flowering abundantly very close to my home as I write.
The final few pages are allocated to seed dispersal, plant defence, there’s a spread devoted to Kew Gardens and some of the work that goes on there both inside and out; a plea for the protection of vital habitats and some suggestions for becoming a gardener without a garden.
There’s also a final glossary and index.
With the wealth of fauna on every spread, Yuval injects just the right amount of mischievous humour into his illustrations.
To add further interest and to ensure that readers study every page with the close attention it merits, he’s planted a golden bulb to search for on fifteen of the spreads .
Written in consultation with experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. this is a must have for family bookshelves, classroom collections and anywhere that budding botanists might be taking root.
Absolutely BLOOMING BRILLIANT!