In the tradition of The Botany of Desire and Wicked Plants, a witty and engaging history of the first botanists interwoven with stories of today’s extraordinary plants found in the garden and the lab. In Paradise Under Glass, Ruth Kassinger recounted with grace and humor her journey from brown thumb to green, sharing lessons she learned from building a home conservatory in the wake of a devastating personal crisis. In A Garden of Marvels, she extends the story. Frustrated by plants that fail to thrive, she sets out to understand the basics of botany in order to become a better gardener. She retraces the progress of the first botanists who banished myths and misunderstandings and discovered that flowers have sex, leaves eat air, roots choose their food, and hormones make morning glories climb fence posts. She also visits modern gardens, farms, and labs to discover the science behind extraordinary plants like one-ton pumpkins, a truly black petunia, a biofuel grass that grows twelve feet tall, and the world’s only photosynthesizing animal. Transferring her insights to her own garden, she nurtures a “cocktail” tree that bears five kinds of fruit, cures a Buddha’s Hand plant with beneficial fungi, and gets a tree to text her when it’s thirsty. Intertwining personal anecdote, accessible science, and untold history, the ever-engaging author takes us on an eye-opening journey into her garden-and yours.
"A sumptuously written history of greenhouse horticulture." -- Entertainment Weekly "Ms. Kassinger's writing is chatty and intimate, but she has clearly done her library research." -- International Herald Tribune on Paradise Under Glass "The book [PARADISE UNDER GLASS] vividly chronicles her [Kassinger's] initiation into the world of indoor gardening as well as the fascinating and unlikely histories of greenhouses and the flamboyant gardens they have housed...Kassinger's lush writing and exotic stories will delight the armchair gardener and historian." -- Publishers Weekly "[M]y favorite gardening book of the year...But be warned... you might feel a need to start acquiring houseplants, or even a greenhouse." -- Boston Globe "Ms. Kassinger's writing is chatty and intimate, but she has clearly done her library research." -- New York Times Book Review on PARADISE UNDER GLASS "[A] pleasant ramble through the world of plants ... Kassinger weaves a huge amount of information into what still feels like a personal memoir, and by the end of this effortless afternoon stroll with her, readers will be startled to realize how much they have learned." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "A self-taught, infectiously enthusiastic home gardener... intrepid journalist and indefatigable plants woman, Kassinger ferrets out the most entertaining and educational aspects of plant science with a researcher's fervor and a collector's zeal... Kassinger has a knack for uncovering horticulture's quirky side." -- Booklist on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "A delightful book, fun to read and share..." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "Kassinger has a knack for explaining without oversimplifying, so that xylem and phloem finally make sense, and the discovery of photosynthesis becomes an exciting event." -- Columbus Dispatch on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "Garden is a lively alternative to traditional botany books..." -- Discover magazine on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "...if you told me I was going to find a book on the history of plant physiology fascinating, I would have snorted. But there you have it: truth is stranger than fiction." -- Cold Climate Gardening on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "That [Kassinger] makes botany so approachable is a feat; that she makes it downright enthralling is almost as miraculous as an adorable photosynthesizing sea slug." -- Shelf Awareness on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "This is a delightful compendium of botanical discoveries." -- Meaghan Walsh Gerard of A Cineaste's Collection on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "...gardeners, if you're looking for a good read, I recommend the book. Yay science!" -- My Garden Group on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "This is an entertaining, sophisticated primer on botany itself..." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer on A GARDEN OF MARVELS "This delightful book is jammed with revelations on plant physiology, biology, and an array of botanical yarns that read like a Gothic page-turner... [a] fast-paced,highly readable book." -- The American Gardener magazine A Garden of Marvels is a delight." -- Bookslut on A GARDEN OF MARVELS