[UCP Books]: A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools

US Publication date: 1 April 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-13976-0
  Cloth $25.00


Just in time for the thaw of the polar vortex and hopeful beginning of spring comes Bill Laws’s entertaining and colorful history of the garden told through the stories of the tools that have been an essential part of our attempts to tame and shape nature. As Laws reveals, gardening tools have coevolved with human society, and the history of these fifty individual tools presents an innovative history of humans and the garden over time. Laws starts by taking us back to the Neolithic age, when the microlith, the first “all-in-one” tool, was invented. Consisting of a small sharp stone blade that was set into a handle made of wood, bone, or antler, it was a small spade that could be used to dig, clip, and cut plant material. We find out that wheelbarrows originated in China in the second century BC, and that their basic form has not changed much since. He also describes early images of a pruning knife that appear in Roman art, in the form of a scythe that could cut through herbs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and was believed to be able to tell the gardener when and what to harvest.

Organized into five thematic chapters relating to different types of gardens: the flower garden, the kitchen garden, the orchard, the lawn, and ornamental gardens, the book is an inviting mix of horticulture and history, in addition to stories featuring well-known characters.

Bill Laws lives in Hereford, England. His other books include Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History, Fifty Railroads that Changed the Course of History, and The Field Guide to Fields.

He is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu


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