Familiar Flowers of Field & Garden


Familiar Flowers of Field & Garden

by F. Schuyler Mathews, 308 pages, 7x5, softcover. Dover reprint of an 1895 edition. A small silver lining in the cloud of 2020 is that some of us had more time (and need) to go outdoors and pay attention to plants. This delightful book brings us back to slower and more observant times. From Trailing Arbutus in early spring to Cosmos and Chrysanthemum in late fall, Mathews describes each in his botanic, poetic and opinionated way, “with a little friendly gossip based on personal experience.”

Both common and botanical names have changed a bit since 1895, but all these New England flowers, both wild and tame, are familiar. Most are illustrated by the author’s excellent line drawings—so good that our Fedco graphics department has pulled from the original edition for years. Readers like me will enjoy Mathew’s grousing about color descriptions: he reveres botanist Asa Gray but says he must be “at least partially color blind” and expresses horror at someone confusing scarlet with crimson.

Not particularly recommended as a guide for identifying flowers, but I am looking forward to going out with the book and trying to distinguish some of the 14 species of Goldenrod that Mathews covers. Ends with a huge 50-page index that charts name, family, color, location, environment, bloom time and page number. An absorbing and soothing book. -Susan Kiralis

9557 Familiar Flowers of Field & Garden
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