Life in the Box: Flora
I have been nibbling on a beautiful and tasty book this summer: “Flora: Inside the Secret World of Plants.” I was drawn to it like a “male pollinator” lured to a flower by the “fragrance of females ready to mate.” This is one of the tricks exhibited by the “subtropical Oncidium orchid genum.”
Flowers can lure pollinators in so many ways. This book lured me with a “gorgeous visual celebration” of plants. I’m quoting the publisher, and the publisher is right. Artistry from 18th century botanical painters Pierre-Joseph Redoute and Georg Ehret and 20th century artist Georgia O’Keeffe (and others) illuminates our understanding of the life of plants.
We find that plants reproduce using ingenious designs. Lures, colors and shapes are all meaningful in the plant world. Pollinating methods can be by wind, by animals, and “by deception.” Flowers’ myriad methods of reproduction are celebrated in little pithy paragraphs woven in-between the paintings.
The observations are written by “experts from the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew” and publisher DK. I imagine a hundred ghost writers hunting through boring journals for exciting threads to weave together.
The resulting path through the miniature worlds of vegetation is winding, leisurely, and enriching.
I love this book. I just shelled out $26 (Amazon sale price) for a hardback copy. It’s annoying to read on my tablet with all that pinching in to read the words and out to see the illustrations.
I have not gobbled the entire thing, nor do I think I will ever read it cover-to-cover. Yet, I feel content with the pieces I’ve tasted.
Now when I venture out into local gardens, I don’t just enjoy the flowers and take hundreds of photos—I look for indications of their hidden worlds. “The Secret Garden,” indeed.
Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, narrating and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and life issues, both inside and outside the box. Her opinions are her own, and are not necessarily those of this web site. (Photos in this posting, except for the book cover, are by Nancy.)