Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Plant Messiah: Adventures in Search of the World's Rarest Species — a book recommendation

The Plant Messiah went on my Amazon Wish List back on August 1st. I have so many books in my "to read" pile, I didn't want to purchase another and add it to the pile, but I didn't want to loose track of it either. Amazon lists are good for keeping track of things like that.

Later, a friend mentioned on Facebook that she'd purchased the book and a discussion among folks who had read it ensued, it sounded so good! Someone said they'd read the Kindle version and that's all it took, I bought it immediately. The advantage of owning it on my iPad meant I could read in bed, after my "early to bed/early to rise" husband had gone to sleep (no lights required!). I enjoy reading fiction electronically, but not gardening books, the photos and things like plant lists just don't translate well to that medium — at least for me, and besides there's something about having plant books on the shelf, at the ready — but this book worked. And it's good, really good...

The Plant Messiah is Carlos Magdalena, the Senior Botanical Horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The book follows his early inspirations and entrance into the plant world, then adventures botanizing in places like Mauritius, Bolivia, Peru, Australia — all in an attempt to save rare plant species from extinction.

Among his personal favorites are waterlillies, he writes about their unique beauty, propagation challenges and discovering them in the wild. Did you know there are tropical waterlilies that survive the dry season by going dormant until the rains return — and "dry season" can mean multiple years?

The photo below is from the book (photos are at the back of the electronic version), Carlos with Nymphaea thermarum; a tiny species from Africa which only grows in hot springs.
Screenshot from The Plant Messiah

My enjoyment of the book was heightened by the fact I have visited Kew, where the author works. Learning more about what goes on behind the scenes before my visit would have been fun, but better after the fact than never.
The Palm House, photo from my 2012 visit

Should you want to learn a little more before you purchase, here are three fine articles on Carlos and the book...

The Plant Messiah Can Help Save Us All, from Beautiful Now
A Return to the Natural World, with Carlos Magdalena (A Book Review of “The Plant Messiah”), from LIBROMANCE
Carlos Magdalena is the Plant Messiah, from The Planthunter

And a video of Carlos talking about what he does (thanks Ann): People of London, Carlos Magdalena

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Weather Diary, Oct 17: Hi 75, Low 43/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2018 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

17 comments:

  1. I totally agree about what to read on Kindle vs. the physical book.

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  2. Awesome! It's the time of year when I need stuff for my Christmas wish list :-)

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  3. "Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew". It sounds like music to me. It's been decades since my visit, decades before I started gardening. This book may just be the thing to get me back across the pond.

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  4. I remember reading about him on The Planthunter site and have now added the book to my own wish list. So, are coveting that waterlily in a teacup?

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    1. Nope, I like my waterlilies much bigger. Maybe if I still gardened on a windowsill.

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  5. Good article to read since the plant was stolen from RBG Kew shortly after they procured with people arguing both against the theft and for it.https://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/oct/28/-sp-plant-crime-of-the-century

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    1. Thank you for that link, the theft was mentioned in the book, I look forward to reading the article.

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  6. I didn't realize that other people liked their fiction electronically and their nonfiction on paper.

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    1. Non electronic fiction is fine, it just gives me an alternative time to read it to have it electronically.

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  7. The book sounds interesting. Like you, I prefer physical books for plant books, because of all the photos and illustrations.

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  8. Looks like an interesting read! Now that you know more of the behind the scenes stuff, you'll have to revisit Kew!

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  9. With a name like that how can it not be great?

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