Primrose

Elizabeth Lawson

Primrose

Elizabeth Lawson

Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 115 color plates | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth $27.00 ISBN: 9781789140774 Published July 2019 For sale in North and South America only
For centuries common primroses have spread breathtaking carpets of pale lemon yellow across the globe, the first sign of spring. Abundant, edible, and beneficial for many ailments, they have supported civilization’s social and cultural foundations. When undaunted plant hunters risked their lives to introduce the many Himalayan primroses of breathtaking beauty, the primrose gained iconic status. Capable of endless variation, primroses have captured the attention of gardeners, plant breeders, and scientists, while artists and poets have found them essential as both subject matter and muse. William Shakespeare introduced us to the “the primrose path,” a pleasurable but destructive route, in several of his plays, and Charles Darwin spent more than thirty years working with primroses to solve an elegant evolutionary mystery.

This book tells the story of how primroses became so successful, circling the Earth, adapting to human civilization, and yet holding their own on inaccessible craggy summits where they may never be seen. Bringing together facts, folklore, and beautiful images from around the world, Primrose is a delightful guide to this hugely popular flower.
Review Quotes
North American Rock Garden Society
"Lawson’s book is graced with over 100 other splendidly reproduced illustrations: botanical paintings of individual plants, photographs, herbarium sheets, electron micrographs, handwritten letters with line drawings, portraits of primrose breeders and historians, and posters from popular culture incorporating the flower. Around and among these visual delights are striking condensations of history and biography. . . . Authorial joy permeates our richly illustrated verbal travels from Scotland to Turkey to Tibet to the one South American primrose. This labor of love includes a comprehensive index, a list of associations and websites, an excellent bibliography, 20 pages of references, and a superb timeline. . . . Primrose is the newest addition to the Botanical series from Reaktion Books Ltd. As for the phrase from Hamlet reused by so many—perhaps most movingly by Oscar Wilde in De Profundis—'the primrose path' is explored both metaphorically and literally in Lawson’s finely written book. I leave you, dear reader, your own pleasurable adventures with her through its host of colors and meanings."
Choice
"This comprehensive treatment of the botanical genus Primula is part of the Reaktion's Botanical series, which integrates plant groups' horticultural and botanical information with social and cultural information about the group. Primroses are among the most important garden flowers, particularly in Europe. . . . The book is beautifully crafted, rich with colorful illustrations, and written in a straightforward style that includes many anecdotes. Recommended."
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