Botany for Gardeners, 3rd Edition
With our feet firmly planted in the twenty-first century, we live in a world greatly changed from that in the middle of the 1980s when I started to plan the first edition of this book. New words have become commonplace in our vocabulary: Internet, global warming, cell phone, and digital camera. And a blackberry is no longer just a luscious fruit. Keeping up with changing technology is becoming more challenging with each passing year. To a person of my generation, at least, finding a place where things are not so hectic, where time seems to take a more leisurely pace, is even more important than it was a quarter of a century ago. That place is my garden.
In my plants I find a connection with the past—happy memories of the days when I planted them —and satisfaction knowing that some will be there for years to come as a legacy, perhaps beyond my lifetime. While tending to their needs, I find comfort in their unchanging, placid ways, unbothered by the fever of human activity. And when working on them with trowels and garden clippers, rather than react as would an attacked animal, the plants miraculously grow even better, rewarding me with more perfect selves. A relationship of this kind is hard to find in any other part of our daily lives.
All gardeners can probably trace their love affair with plants to an earlier experience in their lives. Mine was growing up in a home where my father maintained a spectacular flower garden with beds of perennials arranged in the traditional English style and blooming periods overlapping throughout the summer to create an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color. From this I directed my education and career to studying and teaching botany. When the time came to retire, I looked for a way to continue spreading the good word about plants to a new audience, the readers of a botany book specifically written for gardeners and others who have not had my own privileged scientific background but, nevertheless, are hungry to learn more intimate details about plants other than the practical aspects of growing them.
Among the courses I taught, one of the most satisfying was a general botany for the non-science majors, students who “had to” take a science course as part of their prescribed curriculum. Most anticipated a tedious litany of dull facts, but by the end of the course so many came to me excited that learning about plants had been a revelation, awakening their awareness of the world around them. It was there that Botany for Gardeners was born in 1990.
Botany is a dynamic science, with new information about plants constantly being added by research scientists. Most of the latest discoveries are above the comprehension of gardeners and others without a scientific background, for example, studies of key proteins or other substances and their involvement in complex biochemical systems that regulate growth. But all modern research has, as its foundation, the basic, core principles of plant science that are outlined in laypeople’s language in this book. Equipped with this information, you will be ready to expand your knowledge of plants (and it can be limitless), delve at great depth into any of the many subdivisions of botany, and, perhaps, make discoveries of your own.
For this third edition, new concepts not covered in previous editions are introduced in three short essays related to the topic of plants as human food sources. The dimensions of the text have also been expanded with interesting facts about plants presented in sidebars, and several new photographs have been added, including startling extreme close-up images as seen with scanning electron microscopes.
We hope this twentieth anniversary edition of a gardener’s favorite, in its newly designed form, will give you new insights into the lives of some of the most wonderful living things that share this planet with us.
BRIAN CAPON, 2010
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