This book is about women who have a plant species or genus named after them. The women were variously plant hunters, botanists, horticulturalists and botanical artists. Some are well known, others less so. They have not previously been brought together in this manner. For each of the 34 women, a short biography of their life is presented together with characteristics of the plants named after them. The women had varied and exciting lives and some went to considerable lengths to pursue their botanical interests, but have been overshadowed in the literature by men. This book aims to go some way towards rectifying this omission and give the women the credit they are due.
There She Grows will appeal to those interested in garden history, biography and, of course, plants and their origins. The book covers genus and species names, not cultivars. It is especially topical since it coincides with the 100th anniversary of women first getting the vote in England. It is also, as far as I know, unique the first book to address this topic exclusively. Here is some more information about the contents of each chapter:
Chapter 1 Introduction: Historical background and how the women were selected for inclusion in the book; plant hunting; innovations in plant transportation; impact of the industrial revolution; the naming of plants; photography and the role of women in the society in which they lived.
Chapter 2: Twelve women who were born in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Only one, Maria Sibylla Merian, was born in the seventeenth century and she is already well-known as a botanical and entomological artist. Others in the chapter deserve to be better known.
Chapter 3: Twelve women born in the Nineteenth century,
Chapter 4: Two women living entirely in the twentieth century Kathleen Kellogg Meserve and Margaret Ursula Mee.
Chapter 5 The Oregon Connection: This chapter provides a diversion with biographies of three women whose names are associated with plants growing in the US state of Oregon.
Chapter 6 The ones that (almost) got away: For some women, little information about their lives has been found. Their dates have to be inferred and for some even their first name is obscure. There are five women here.
Chapter 7 Summary: The characteristics of the lives of the women are summarised in this chapter. The most important practical feature leading to their success in having at least one plant named after them is wealth, enabling them to pursue their interests unhindered by the need to earn a living. However, their lives were not always easy. Factors such as family influences, geography, moving overseas, contact with eminent botanists were all important as were determination, stamina and overcoming opposition.
Trained as a botanist and plant biochemist (DPhil York) the author is also a qualified horticulturalist. She lives in the Lake District.