A Short History of Flowers: The stories that make our gardens 

In her new book, the Gardener’s World presenter, garden and social historian Advolly Richmond unravels the surprising histories of 60 flowers that shape our gardens.

Book cover A short history of flowers by Advolly Richmond

Have you ever wondered where your favourite garden flowers came from? Where their names derived? Or why some cultivars go in and out of favour? Every flower in your herbaceous border has a story, and in this book Advolly Richmond takes you on a tour of the most intriguing, surprising and enriching ones.

Tales of exploration, everlasting love and bravery bring these beautiful flowers to life. Richmond has dug down to uncover the royalty, scholars, pioneers and a smuggler or two that have all played a part in discovering and cultivating some of our favourite species. From the lavish and exotic bougainvillea, found by an 18th century female botanist in disguise to the humble but majestic snowdrop casting a spell and causing a frenzy.

These plants have played pivotal roles in our societies, from boom to bust economies, promises of riches and making fashion statements. These unassuming blooms hold treasure troves of stories. The book includes commissioned artworks from award-winning botanical illustrator Sarah Jane Humphrey which bring each flower to life.

Advolly Richmond is an independent researcher in garden, landscape, plant and social history and is based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. She has an MA in Garden History from the University of Bristol and is qualified to RHS Level 3 in Practical Horticulture. She advocates that garden history is for everyone, it helps us to understand the value of historic designed landscapes, parks, cemeteries and many other green spaces, because only when you understand the value of something can you protect it for future generations. Richmond lectures on garden history from the 16th through to the 20th century and is currently researching the life and legacy of the Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman (1809-1890), an Anglo-African Victorian missionary, botanist and plant collector.

A Short History of Flowers: The stories that make our gardens (Frances Lincoln), will be released on the 7th of March 2024