San Francisco Books


When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy,  there  is always the garden.... M. Aumonier

Florilegium Imperiale: Botanical Illustrations for Francis I of AustriaFlorilegium Imperiale: Botanical Illustrations for Francis I of Austria 5 stars
Francis I of Austria, the last monarch to rule over the Holy Roman Empire, was obsessed with flowers. His Imperial Gardens, where he realized his passion remain one of Vienna’s most beloved treasures. In 1791, Francis I commissioned Matthias Schumtzer to paint portraits of every flower in the garden—a project that took more than three decades to complete. Until now, only six of the extant 1,300 paintings have ever been published. This collection features one hundred of the most outstanding of Schmutzer’s watercolors. Painted life-size, the flowers range from the exotic to the common. A fascinating text offers biographical information about Francis I, descriptions of the Imperial Gardens in the ruler’s time, and photographs of how they appear today. A significant contribution to horticultural history, this unique and beautifully presented book will delight lovers of botanical art and Europhiles alike.
H. Walter Lack is director of the botanical gardens in Berlin-Dahlem and professor at the Free University of Berlin. He is the author of numerous books on botanical history, including Jardin de la Malmaison: Empress Josephine’s Garden

The Art of the GardenThe Art of the Garden: Collecting Antique Botanical Prints 5 starsby Denise DeLaurentis
this work is an invaluable reference source for experienced collectors and new enthusiasts alike. The lively text documents the magnificent full color illustrations,botanical prints produced by notable artists of the 17th century through the turn of the twentieth.


Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and TreesFolklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees(Dover Pictorial Archive Series)
by Ernst Lehner, Johanna Lehner
4 1/5 stars


The Landscape of ManThe Landscape of Man
5 stars
by Geoffrey Jellicoe, Susan Jellicoe
Shaping the Environment
from Prehistory to the Present Day

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ... Benjamin Disraeli

In the Land of the Blue Poppies: The Collected Plant Hunting Writings of Frank Kingdon-WardIn the Land of the Blue Poppies:
The Collected Plant Hunting Writings of Frank Kingdon-Ward (Modern Library Gardening Series.) 5 stars
Chronicles one of the twenty-four wildly adventurous expeditions throughout Tibet, China, and Southeast Asia, in search of rare and elusive plant species including the legendary Tibetan blue poppy. Drawn from writings out of print for almost seventy-five years.

A garden is a delight to the eye and a solace for the soul....Sadi

Magic of IrisesMagic of Irises
by Barbara Perry Lawton
The Lore and Legends section of irises is very seldom found in books. I highly recommend the 'Magic of Irises for the gardener wih interest in irises. This book was nominated for an American Horticultural Society Award.

The Earth Laughs in Flowers... Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Gardens of Emily DickinsonThe Gardens of Emily Dickinson
by Judith Farr 5 stars
In this first substantial study of Emily Dickinson's devotion to flowers and gardening, Judith Farr seeks to join both poet and gardener in one creative personality. She casts new light on Dickinson's temperament, her aesthetic sensibility, and her vision of the relationship between art and nature, revealing that the successful gardener's intimate understanding of horticulture helped shape the poet's choice of metaphors for every experience: love and hate, wickedness and virtue, death and immortality.

In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden FoodsIn the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Foods by Stewart Lee Allen
Drawing inspiration from the Seven Deadly Sins, Stewart Lee Allen serves up a scintillating history of forbidden foods through the ages and how these taboos have defined cultures around the world.

Nature is a revelation of God;
Art a revelation of man.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Food in HistoryFood in History by Reay Tannahill
An enthralling world history of food
from prehistoric times to the present.
5 stars


Knot Gardens and ParterresKnot Gardens and Parterres: A History of the Knot Garden and How to Make One Today by Robin Whalley, Anne Jennings
5 stars

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freelyas the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. ...Abram L. Urban

Van Gogh's GardensVan Gogh's Gardens 5 stars
by Derek Fell, Vincent Van Gogh, Louisa Ermelino

Cezanne's GardenCezanne's Garden
by Derek Fell
A tour in words and pictures of Cezanne's restored garden in Aix-en-Provence, where Marilyn Monroe was one of its early visitors. Cezanne remains one of the world's most beloved impressionist painters, and almost 100,000 visitors each year flock to Les Lauves, his studio and garden. Derek Fell's book offers a fresh insight to the man, his artistic legacy, his unique garden philosophy, and the natural worlds that inspired him. Hard cover, 130 pages, full color.
Derek Fell website

The trouble with gardening is that is does not remain an avocation. It becomes an obsession....Phyllis McGinley

The Passionate GardenerThe Passionate Gardener
by Rudolf Borchardt 5 stars
This book is no mere gardening how-to, though it contains a wealth of practical information for every serious gardener. Rather, The Passionate Gardener is a unique book about a celebrated German poet's remarkable search for the relationship between human society and the vegetable kingdom. The author begins with a discourse on "The Flower and the Human Being," exploring the ancient origins of that relationship through mythology, legend and language and goes on to explore the meaning of gardens and gardening by tracing their historical evolution from the most ancient notions of the garden.

Nature is a revelation of God; Art a revelation of man.- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower &the Extraordinary Passions It ArousedTulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower &the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused 4 stars
by Mike Dash
the unbelievable true story of how a beautiful flower changed the course of history, from the medieval courts of the Ottoman sultans to the futures market of Holland's golden age.

Medicinal Plants of the World: An Illustrated Scientific Guide to Important Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Medicinal Plants of the World: An Illustrated Scientific Guide to Important Medicinal Plants and Their Uses 5 stars
Comprehensive and scientifically accurate guide to the best-known and most important medicinal plants, including those of special commercial or historical interest.

My Garden of Flower FairiesMy Garden of Flower Fairies
by Cicely Mary Barker

A Deluxe Book of Flower Fairies
by Cicely Mary Barker
learn about Cicely Mary Barker

Language of Flowers
(From Stencils and Notepaper to Flowers and Napkin Folding) by Kate Greenaway

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ...Walt Whitman

Flower Fairies: The Meaning of FlowerFlower Fairies: The Meaning of Flower
by Cicely Mary Barker (Illustrator), Frederick Warne (Photographer)
Flower mythology and plant lore lists each flower alphabetically with its meanings, medicinal properties, related superstitions, and recipes for ancient magic spells, complemented by illustrations of the Flower Fairies.

Gardening with Heirloom SeedsGardening with Heirloom Seeds: Tried-and-True Flowers, Fruits, and Vegetables
for a New Generation

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life." ...Rachel Carson

titleGarden History: Philosophy and Design 2000 BC--2000 AD 5 stars
This newly published book uses more than 400 colour photographs, 150 colour plans and 30 style diagrams to present and explain the development of gardens between 2000 B.C. and 2000 A.D. The story extends from Egypt and West Asia to Europe, the Americas and beyond. It includes developments in art, philosophy and the social use of outdoor space throughout the period." Tom Turner's overview makes a large subject accessible to a wide range of readers, with particular emphasis on the philosophy of garden design and the resultant styles. Its unique approach makes it both the ideal concise introduction for the general reader and a structured analysis for the specialist, relating design styles to each other, to philosophical ideas and to the fine arts.

titlePathfinders: A Global History of Exploration by Fernández-Armesto 4 stars
An intellectual adventure that covers everything the title claims, resulting in a rich history of our world. 16 pages of color illus.,
44 b&w illus., 48 maps

The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.... Gertrude Jekyll

Earthly Paradises: Ancient Gardens in History and ArchaeologyEarthly Paradises: Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology
5 stars
by Maureen Carroll
This is a delightful book. Maureen Carroll (C.) has produced a broad but concise overview of what we know of ancient gardens in the Mediterranean and ancient Near East using primarily archaeological evidence, judiciously supported by the occasional text. As one would expect from a Getty publication, it is beautifully produced, with 92 crisp, clear, and for the most part colour illustrations.

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves...Mohandas K. Gandhi:

Flowering EarthFlowering Earth 5 stars
by Donald Culross Peattie,Paul Landacre (Illustrator)
Donald Peattie was a best-selling author who introduced readers nationwide to the wonders of the natural world.This book is a reprint ofthe 1939 original on the history of the plant kingdom.

It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves
...Robert Louis Stevenson

Amazing Rare Things
Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery by David 4 1/5 stars Attenborough, Susan Owens, Martin Clayton and Rea Alexandratos, published by Royal Collection Publications  (224 pages, 160 colour illustrations). The extraordinary exhibition that has been selected from the collections of the Royal Library by curators of the Royal Collection in collaboration with the distinguished naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. 

Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps...Amos Bronson Alcott

And Some Brought FlowersAnd Some Brought Flowers: Plants in a New World (Fifth House)
70 stunning full-color watercolors of plants discovered by early travellers to North America with numerous excerpts from the writings of early explorers and settlers

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity...John Ruskin

I knew in my heart that I wanted to know the garden intimately, to know all the flowers in each season, to be there from spring through autumn, digging, pruning, planting, feeding, rejoicing. In short, I had fallen in love...Elizabeth Murray

"Nothing is more the child of art than a garden."
--Sir Walter Scott

The Most Beautiful Gardens in the WorldThe Most Beautiful Gardens in the World
by Alain Le Toquin 4 stars
32 of the greatest public and private gardens on five continents
Jacques Bosser provides the historical background and explains the uniqueness of each garden.
152 images and 12 gatefolds featuring spectacular panoramic photographs. Includes Bev McConnell's "Ayrlies" and Gordon Collier's "Titoki Point".

The rose speaks of love silently,
in a language known only to the heart.
...Author Unknown

Women Of Flowers by Jack KramerWomen Of Flowers by Jack Kramer
A Tribute to Women Illustrators 4 1/5 stars
A beautiful volume dedicated to female botanical illustrators who worked between the early 1700s and the early 1900s. An extended introduction prefaces the book. The author also touches on the need that many of these women felt to publish their work anonymously rather than to be vilified by their peers and critics. The main focus of the book is the biographical information provided about the female artists, along with their work.

The Forest in Folklore and MythologyThe Forest in Folklore and Mythology
by Alexander Porteous 4 stars
This fascinating book is a mind-expanding collection of facts, folklore, superstitions, myths, and anecdotes about trees and the forest. Included are descriptions of old forests; forest customs; temples and sacred groves; and mythical forest creatures such as witches, fairies, demons, wood spirits, the "wild huntsman, " and wood nymphs. Facts and fables about individual trees, including famous trees, tree worship, people's transformations into trees, and disposal of the dead in trees -- as well as folklore about fossil trees, tree bark, leaves and thorns, divining rods, and Yule logs. A treasury for naturalists, anthropologists, students of folklore, and general readers alike.

The Meaning of Trees: Botany, History, HealingThe Meaning of Trees: Botany, History, Healing, Lore
by Fred Hageneder 5 stars
The Friend of Trees' chairman, who is working to save the endangered yew in the UK, explores what trees have meant to humans in practical and symbolic terms throughout history. Tree profiles from acacia to yew feature botanical and sociocultural information and color photos. Printed on paper aptly produced from managed sustainable forests, the book includes a botanical glossary and notes on trees' roles in traditional medicine.

Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and LunacyOrchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy
by Eric Hansen
well written stories about the eccentric collectors of rare orchids.
A Great read!
5 stars

Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?...Maurice Maeterlinck

Myths of the Sacred TreeMyths of the Sacred Tree 5 stars
by Moyra Caldecott, Anthea Toorchen (Illustrator)
A collection of myths celebrating the rich symbolism of trees, all bringing to life a time when the natural world was deeply respected and trees and forests were thought to be inhabited by spirits and divine beings.

"Flowers are beautiful hieroglyphics of nature, with which she indicates how much she loves us."..Wolfgang von Geothe

100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names
by Diana Wells, Ippy Patterson (Illustrator) 4 1/5 stars
The stories flowers tell are not what one might expect: here are tales of human strife, of ambitious explorers, doomed monarchs, and dogged scientists, and of the world's folk beliefs. Illustrated with more than 100 drawings.

The Passionate Gardener by Rudolf Borchardt
5 stars
Borchardt (1877-1945),was an eccentric and obscure German poet and translator. He declared " Human beings build gardens in order to give real substance, whether passing or enduring, to a lost world that fills the mind with unappeasable longing.


100 Vegetables and Where They Came From
by William Woys Weaver 4 1/5 stars
William Woys Weaver is The Seed Saver
William Woys Weaver explains the history of outstanding heirlooms, along with growing advice and recipes.


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I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.... John Burroughs

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