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Practical Botany for Gardeners

Over 3,000 Botanical Terms Explained and Explored

Gardening can be frustratingly shrouded in secrecy. Fickle plants make seemingly spontaneous decisions to bloom or bust, seeds sprout magically in the blink of an eye, and deep-rooted mysteries unfold underground and out of sight. Understanding basic botany is like unlocking a horticultural code; fortunately learning a little science can reveal the secrets of the botanical universe and shed some light on what’s really going on in your garden.

Practical Botany for Gardeners provides an elegant and accessible introduction to the world of botany. It presents the essentials that every gardener needs to know, connecting explanations of scientific facts with useful gardening tips. Flip to the roots section and you’ll not only learn how different types of roots support a plant but also find that adding fungi to soil aids growth. The pruning section both defines “lateral buds” and explains how far back on a shoot to cut in order to propagate them.

The book breaks down key areas and terminology with easy-to-navigate chapters arranged by theme, such as plant types, plant parts, inner workings, and external factors. “Great Botanists” and “Botany in Action” boxes delve deeper into the fascinating byways of plant science. This multifaceted book also includes two hundred botanical illustrations and basic diagrams that hearken to the classic roots of botany.

Part handbook, part reference, Practical Botany for Gardeners is a beautifully captivating read. It’s a must for garden lovers and backyard botanists who want to grow and nurture their own plant knowledge.

See sample pages from the book (PDF format).

224 pages | 200 color plates | 7 x 9 | © 2013

Biological Sciences: Botany, Natural History



"For anyone who has been horrified by the lopsided life that remains after a bout of pruning, gardening writer Geoff Hodge has some gentle advice: Pruning is both an art and a science. You’ll be better equipped to take on the challenge after reading the chapter on pruning in Practical Botany for Gardeners. . . . Botanical illustrations on almost every page add a decorative touch, and profiles of botanical artists pay tribute to those who make plants come alive on the page."

Boston Globe

"A gentle guide to the green world . . . organized precisely how a nonbotanist would need it done. Chapters introduce the plant kingdom and how botanists classify it; tackle growth, form and function; and take you inside a plant to understand how its cells, nutrition and hormones actually function. Others explore reproduction, soil, pests and disorders. . . It’s a beautiful book."

Denver Post

Table of Contents

How to use this book
A short history of botany

Chapter 1: The Plant Kingdom
Mosses and liverworts
Ferns and their relatives
Gymnosperms: conifers and their relatives
Angiosperms: flowering plants
Monocotyledons versus dicotyledons
Plant naming and common names
Plant families
Hybrids and cultivars

Chapter 2: Growth, Form, and Function
Plant growth and development
Bulbs and other underground food storage organs

Chapter 3: Inner Workings
Cells and cell division
Plant nutrition
Nutrient and water distribution
Plant hormones

Chapter 4: Reproduction
Vegetative reproduction
Sexual reproduction
Plant breeding—evolution in cultivation

Chapter 5: The Beginning of Life
Development of the seed and fruit
Seed dormancy
Seed germination
Sowing and saving seeds
Seed saving

Chapter 6: External Factors
The soil
Soil pH
Soil fertility
Soil moisture and rainwater
Nutrients and feeding
Life above ground

Chapter 7: Pruning
Why prune?
Pruning trees
Pruning for size and shape
Pruning for display

Chapter 8: Botany and the Senses
Seeing light
Sensing scent
Scent as an attractant
Feeling vibrations

Chapter 9: Pests, Diseases, and Disorders
Insect pests
Other common pests
Fungi and fungal diseases
Viral diseases
Bacterial diseases
Parasitic plants
How plants defend themselves
Breeding for resistance to pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

Credits and websites

Botanists and Botanical Illustrators
Gregor Johann Mendel
Barbara McClintock
Robert Fortune
Prospero Alpini
Richard Spruce
Charles Sprague Sargent
Luther Burbank
Franz and Ferdinand Bauer
Matilda Smith
John Lindley FRS
Marianne North
Pierre-Joseph Redouté
James Sowerby
Vera Scarth-Johnson OAM

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