The Medieval Flower Book

Celia Fisher

The Medieval Flower Book
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See the cover of the cloth editionĀ here (PDF format)

Celia Fisher

Distributed for British Library

128 pages | 140 color plates | 8 3/4 x 9 1/2 | © 2007
Paper $20.00 ISBN: 9780712358941 Published April 2013 For sale in North and South America only
In our modern world, the spiny-stemmed flowers, intertwined leaves, and delicate pink blossoms of the rubus fruticosus, or common blackberry bramble, might catch the eye of the casual observer or weekend gardener. Pleasant, prolific, and decorative, plants like the blackberry are looked upon as sources for harvest, landscape, and visual pleasure. To the medieval and Renaissance artist, however, these botanicals were far more. Part of a richly symbolic visual language culled from the classical era, their exquisite depiction in illuminated manuscripts of the age evoked fertility, conjured bad dreams, and even aligned itself with ancient wisdom. The popular and enduring appeal of flowers in medieval art and literature extended beyond simple botanical illustration; instead, flowers helped to tell countless stories without words through potent symbolic imagery.

The Medieval Flower Book
artfully presents an alphabetical collection of over one hundred of the major flowers that appear in medieval manuscripts—gathered with fascinating explanatory texts on their history, significance, and usage. The sumptuous reproductions that accompany each entry offer a visual reference to the symbolism of botanicals in medieval manuscripts that’s beyond breathtaking in its appeal. An introductory section explaining the ancient roots of practical horticulture’s expansion into cultural and spiritual realms not only places the volume in the context of gardening history, but gives the general reader insight into our enduring interest in these remarkable herbals. 
 
Widely appealing to all of those interested in flowers and gardening, the horticultural historian, and the student of visual culture and medieval history, The Medieval Flower Book is a fascinating and important primer on the beauty and language of florals. Extensively ranging through the canon of medieval botanicals—from acanthus and anemones to violets and wallflowers—this volume is the perfect gift for anyone interested in blossoms and blooms, and should thrill the everyday gardener and art collector alike.
 
Huntia
“Gardeners, plant lovers, fans of herb and herbals, and book history enthusiasts will particularly appreciate this book.”
Bill Spence | York Press
“[Fisher] is an authority on the history of plants, gardens, and the artists and collectors of their day. . . . [The Medieval Flower Book] is worth every penny as [it] give[s] continuous enjoyment and wonder.”
Contents
Introduction
 
Descriptions of Plants
Acanthus
Anemone and Adonis
Apples
Artemisia
Arum
Balm and Melissa
Beans and Broadbeans
Betony
Blackberries and Raspberries
Bluebells
Borage and Comfrey
Broom Bryony
Campanula
Campion
Carline thistle
Centaury and Cornflower
Cherries and Plums
Cinquefoil and Lady’s mantle
Clover and Vetch
Columbine
Convolvulus
Corncockle and Soapwort
Cranesbill
Cyclamen
Daffodils
Daisies
Dill and Coriander
Elecampane
Euphorbia
Figs
Forget-me-nots and Speedwells
Foxgloves
Garlic
Gourds, Cucumbers and Melons
Hawthorn
Hellebores
Hollyhocks and Mallows
Honeysuckle
Hops
Houseleeks
Hyssop and Marjoram
Irises
Ivy and Bay
Jasmine
Larkspur and Monkshood
Lavender
Lettuce and Dandelion
Lilies
Lily of the valley and Solomon’s seal
Lupins
Mandrake
Marigolds
Medlars and Pears
Mulberries
Mullein
Nettles and Hemp
Nigella
Nightshade
Oranges
Orchids
Peas
Peonies
Pepper
Periwinkles
Physalis
Pinks
Plantain
Pomegranates
Poppies
Primroses and Cowslips
Quinces and Peaches
Redcurrants, Blackcurrants and Gooseberries
Rosemary
Roses
Saffron crocuses and Safflowers
Sage
Snowdrops and Snowflakes
Sorrels and Woodsorrels
Stocks and Sweet rockets
Strawberries
Tansy and Feverfew
Thistles
Vervain and St John’s wort
Vines
Violets and Violas
Wallflowers
Waterlilies
 
Further Reading
 
Index of Manuscripts
 
General Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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