Synopses & Reviews
In October 1987, a great storm drove in from the English Channel, devastating the southeastern counties of the British Isles. Huge gaps opened in the landscape of England, and the historic tree collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London, and Wakehurst Place in West Sussex lay fallen. The storm exposed the mortality of heritage trees for all to see and provided the impetus for a new wave of plant collecting by the Royal Botanic Gardens, led by the enterprising Mark Flanagan and Tony Kirkham. The losses sparked a realization: the collections at Kew and Wakehurst Place lacked key representatives of the world's temperate woodlands, and to fill the gaps, Flanagan and Kirkham looked east, to the species-rich temperate forests of Korea, Taiwan, eastern Russia and Japan. These hidden corners of the Far East became their hunting ground. Plants are at the heart of this story, and the descriptions convey the excitement of the find. The narrative unfolds with an immediacy that makes us feel right there beside them as they uncover rarities like Cotoneaster wilsonii (found only on the remote island of Ullung-Do), hang off the side of a gorge to collect the seed of Magnolia sieboldii and endure a punishing day in search of the Taiwan beech. Vividly illustrated with color maps and photographs, this entertaining travelogue will appeal to travellers, plant-lovers and anyone with an interest in the rich diversity of flora of the Far East.
"Well written, never dry, often exciting, sometimes hilarious, the book allows the reader to experience events in an immediate way through the use of first-person narrative."
—Penny McCook, Sida, Contributions to Botany, September 2005 Contributions to Botany
"The story they tell in Plants from the Edge of the World
—William Grant, Pacific Horticulture, Summer 2005 Pacific Horticulture
"A rare and wonderful trove of plants encountered along the way is described enthusiastically amid the breathtaking scenery of panoramic gorges, pristine mountainsides, and monolithic trees. Armchair botanists will enjoy each fascinating journey to the outer reaches of distant continents and the authors' accounts of successful plant cultivation back in England."
—Alice Joyce, Booklist, July 22, 2005
In reaction to severe storm damage at the Royal Botanic Gardens, two enterprising plant explorers set off on a collecting expedition to the Far East. Plant discoveries and adventures are revealed through rich language, color maps, and photos.
At the heart of this descriptive and entertaining travelogue is the authors' personal tale of exciting rare plant discoveries in the Far East. Vividly illustrated with color maps and photographs.
About the Author
Mark Flanagan is Keeper of the Gardens in Windsor Great Park, where he is responsible for the world-renowned Savill and Valley Gardens as well as the gardens at Frogmore (the resting place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) and Royal Lodge. He has traveled extensively in search of hardy plants, with visits to Turkey, eastern Asia, western Canada and the western United States. He lectures widely and contributes regularly to horticultural journals. Mark is married and has two children; they all live in a house in the woods in Windsor Great Park.Tony Kirkham is Head of the Arboretum and Horticultural Services at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, where he cares for the existing heritage landscape and woody plant collections and maintains the integrity and development of the living scientific plant collections. The latter responsibility has been the impetus for plant collecting trips to Chile, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, western China, and Japan; many of the trees now growing in the collection originate from seed collected on these trips. Tony lectures internationally, runs workshops, and has published papers on a wide range of subjects. He is married with two children and lives in London.