A Rage for Rock Gardening: The Story of Reginald Farrer, Gardener, Writer & Plant Collector
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A Rage for Rock Gardening: The Story of Reginald Farrer, Gardener, Writer & Plant Collector

by Nicola Shulman
     
 

"Dwarfish and intense, Reginald Farrer (1880-1920) spent an isolated, privileged childhood climbing the limestone cliffs of his native Yorkshire, collecting the delicate alpine plants that grew there in profusion. By age eight he knew their names and anatomy, and by thirteen had published his first discoveries in the Journal of Botany." He went up to Oxford with a…  See more details below

Overview

"Dwarfish and intense, Reginald Farrer (1880-1920) spent an isolated, privileged childhood climbing the limestone cliffs of his native Yorkshire, collecting the delicate alpine plants that grew there in profusion. By age eight he knew their names and anatomy, and by thirteen had published his first discoveries in the Journal of Botany." He went up to Oxford with a world-beating attitude and a vain, abiding dream of becoming a great novelist. Instead he became the foremost garden writer of his generation, a wit, taste-maker, and flamboyant iconoclast who, through his best-selling books, almost single-handedly "democratized" gardening, transforming it from an indulgence of the rich to a passion of millions. He was also an intrepid plant collector, mounting expeditions to China, Tibet, and Upper Burma and introducing many important new species to the gardens of the West. It is no exaggeration to call him the father of modern flower gardening, the man who put garden books in every Englishman's library and a rockery in every backyard.

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Editorial Reviews

Verlyn Klinkenborg
One of the most wickedly enjoyable gardening books of this season is Nicola Shulman's brief, scintillating portrait of another imperfect genius, Reginald Farrer, in A Rage for Rock Gardening.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
When it was published in the U.K. in 2002, this slim volume earned considerable praise from both garden writers and literary critics. That's fitting, because while Farrer (1880- 1920) virtually invented rock gardening as it is now practiced and revolutionized garden writing, his ambition was to be a "literary figure." His novels ranged from "entirely mortal" (The House of Shadows) to "dreadful" (Through the Ivory Gate), but represented what he thought of as his higher calling. Journalist Schulman's biography puts Farrer's highly successful horticultural activities in the context of his frustrated grander aspirations. It is a balanced portrait of a brilliant but "touchy, reproachful, extremely demanding, painfully solipsistic" man, told succinctly and tastefully. Farrer's relationship with his rigidly Christian parents was poor and became abysmal when he converted to Buddhism. Letters to his Oxford classmate Aubrey Herbert strongly suggest a homosexual orientation. Schulman presents this information simply and directly; it's relevant but not central to the story. What is central is Farrer's talent for observing, growing, describing, cataloguing and discovering alpine plants. He literally traveled to the ends of the earth to find new ones, braving hardship and danger on expeditions to China, Tibet and, finally, Burma, where he died. With this brief work, Schulman reveals a brilliant, charming and idiosyncratic character. Illus. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781567922493
Publisher:
Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
11/28/2004
Pages:
119
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.61(d)

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