Bobby J. Ward is past president of the North American Rock Garden Society. He has a degree in plant physiology, received his PhD in botany from North Carolina State University, and is a retired environmental scientist. A dedicated gardener, he has long been interested in plant names and plant lore. His book A Contemplation Upon Flowers won the Quill & Trowel Award of the Garden Writers Association. Bobby grew up on a farm in eastern North Carolina where his early interest in native plants started with observing the plants around him. In college, he had the opportunity to learn more about general biology, including botany, becoming interested in it as a career. He began his professional life as an environmental scientist working for 25 years at a major electrical power company. During these years, Bobby drifted toward horticulture and gardening as an avocation, so when he retired he already had his next career as an author and gardener in place. Bobby has traveled to Chile, Canada, the U.K., Mexico, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and extended regions of the United States to interview modern explorers and to see the landscape and locations where they do their species collecting. In his spare time, Bobby enjoys reading, traveling, and a sweet, peaceful dedication to his private gardens.
Ward, a retired environmental scientist and gardener, has gathered quotations from poems, myths, novels, and plays from ancient Greece to the 19th century to illustrate the literary history of 80 garden plants. He traces the origins of the scientific and common names for each plant and provides its mythological and religious contexts, symbolism in the arts, and traditional medicinal uses, as well as its meaning in the language of flowers. He also mentions unusual uses of flowers as food, for example oil made from the seeds of snapdragons. The most challenging part of his research was verifying that a recognizable common name was applied to the same plant over the years by different writers. Ward is meticulous in identifying the particular plants referred to in the literary selections he quotes, whose sources range from the familiar to the obscure. This book offers much information and entertainment for patrons of large public and academic libraries.ÄDaniel Starr, Museum of Modern Art, New York Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
A Contemplation Upon Flowers is an exceptional read, full of enticing, well researched, beautifully crafted words that bring to life many of the plants we already grow in our gardens. As a lecturer and plantsman, I found myself unable to put it down - each page revealing a multi-dimensional, highly entertaining, 'take' on the plants we as horticulturists have already come to appreciate. I will find Bobby Ward's work eminently useful in my writing, lecturing and for simply embracing more exuberantly the historical interaction between the plants I grow and the human condition. A requisite adjunct to any botanical or horticultural reference book currently available! -- Dan Hinkley Pacific Horticulture 19990901 At a time when the outpouring of new gardening books, good, bad, and indifferent, seems to be unabating, it has been a joy to read an authoritative work that is totally different and absorbing. Bobby Ward's book is the result of five years of meticulous research into old botanical books and herbals, early gardening books and travel writings around the world, the works of the major and minor poets, classical novels, and much more. The result is a compendium of over eighty plant genera, each describing the earliest references to the plants in history and in legend, in poetry and in prose, including their earliest uses in herbalism and medicine. One of its great joys is the abundance of quotations, that are long enough to give a feel for the work from which they are taken, especially the poetry, and there is a comprehensive bibliography for those who want to discover more. I found it fascinating to be given such a deep insight into the feelings engendered in past generations by the old favourite plants which we now take for granted, especially at a time when growing 'new' plants is the primary aim of most gardeners. -- Jack Elliott Trillium 19990901 If a gardener's curiosity about plants seems to increase the longer one plants, prunes, and propagates, this excellent meditation on plants will help appease such inquisitive tendencies. Booklist 19990801 Ward is meticulous in identifying the particular plants referred to in the literary selections he quotes. Library Journal 19990801 From casual flirtations to lifelong affairs, Bobby Ward probes our relationships to the flowers of gardens, fields and forests. With the relentless fervor of the paparazzi, he delves into literature past and present to unveil the joyful as well as the dark emotions that plants incite. His sumptuous commentary brings to life writers who exult the triumphs and lament the tragedies that have inextricably bound us to ornamental plants throughout history. -- C. Colston Burrell Horticulture 19990901 A Contemplation Upon Flowers may inspire you to view your own garden in a different light, and to consider new additions to your borders based on what William Blake or the ancient Romans said about them. -- Tim Morehouse Cincinnati Enquirer 19991218 This is a highly entertaining compilation and a most worthy addition to the flowers-folklore field. Taxon 19991101 Here is a book that is different, a book that will delight gardeners who wish to know more about the flowers they grow. It is not about their botany or cultivation but about the love and respect or occasionally even fear they engendered in the past. -- Jack Elliott Trillium 20000201 This is a great resource for further delving into literature with a horticultural flavour. Victoria Times Colonist 19991216 Another good reference to savor. -- Karen Baar Diversion 19991201 He has built a charming paper garden by excerpting from and commenting on hundreds of literature references to many of our favorite flowers. -- Lucio Russo Cactus and Co. 19991226 The book is easy to use as compared with other such titles, in part because it is arranged by type of plant, and because Ward weaves it all together, gives historical and botanical context, with his commentary. -- Valerie Easton Garden Notes 20000301 Luscious trivia, and a great deal more, can be found in Bobby J. Ward's A Contemplation Upon Flowers. Country Living Gardener 20000401 Combine poetry, literature, botanical information together with a generous measure of love of flowers and the result is this entertaining book. And, this book will provide untold hours of pleasure to any plant lover, as the reader returns again and again to discover more with each visit. -- Terry Peters North Shore News 20000305 This book provides yet another delicious escape from work weather and worry for gardeners who love to trace the history of plants, following their travels and remarking their shifting popularity. -- Nancy Brachey Charlotte Observer 19990916 A Contemplation Upon Flowers is such a beautiful and entertaining look at folk fancies and plant facts that you're inspired to start writing poetry about what's in your own garden. When you read author Bobby Ward's delightful touches of humor and references about his own garden, you simply want to put on your gardening rags, run out into the backyard, and start growing goodies. -- Don Denevi Palo Alto Daily News 19991106 A book that will delight gardeners who wish to know more about the flowers they grow. -- Jack Elliott Trillium 19990310 It's an Alistair Cooke/cardigan sweater sort of book for gardeners with a scholarly bent. Mr. Ward has sorted through a massive amount of literary bric-a-brac and compiled an entertaining, if questionably useful, volume of scientific and literary trivia about plants. -- Peter F. Sleight Morning Star 19991008 An informative discourse on garden plants of myth and literature-beautifully illustrated with 17th century botanical engravings and wood cuts. -- Ann Armstrong Port Townsend Leader 19991015 Gardeners and literature buffs will thumbthin the pages in no time. MarciaAdams.com 20000322 A Contemplation Upon Flowers: Garden Plants in Myth and Literature offers new terrain for a garden romp. -- Gloria Mazure Albany Times Union 20000312 The book captures the historical significance of each flower. -- Marty Figley Michigan Observer and Eccentric 20000330 This book offers much information and entertainment. Library Journal 19990828 Rich with literary references, this book would be useful for public speakers or writers, but anyone who appreciates plants will enjoy dipping into it for simple reading pleasure. -- Marge Howard-Jones California Garden 20000515 A fascinating compendium of thoughts about flowers. Avant Gardener 19990901 The book is the result of several years of research and promises to give readers more than that amount of pleasure. -- Suzanne Hively Cleveland Plain Dealer 19990813 Altogether a pleasing book for dipping into, with charming prose and poetry that discusses beliefs about plants such as ivy and lilies, primroses and poppies, daisies and buttercups. -- Judy Glattstein Home Monthly 19990901 This is a timeless book than can be picked up and enjoyed again and again, and I will. -- Marjorie Daughtridge Pinehurst Pilot 19990913 If you enjoy herbal lore and history, this is a perfect book to read in the hammock amongst the poppies, roses, honeysuckle, and evening primrose. American Herb Association Quarterly Newsletter 20001005 Whimsical, scholarly, informative, and entertaining. -- Barbara Blossom Ashmun Fine Gardening 20001027 This book is pure joy for the avid gardener. -- Lynette Walther Palatka Daily News 20000830 'A Contemplation Upon Flowers' can mesmerize the mind. -- Nell Lewis Greensboro News and Record 20001125 This work besides being pleasurable reading may have particular value as a source of tales and quotations ... -- Joann Karges Sida, Contributions to Botany 20000328 One can open this book on any page and find something very special. -- Betty Mackey Hunt 20010413 [An] exquisitely penned book, sure to be treasured by any literary gardener. -- Pam Beck Raleigh News and Observer 20011201 The scientific to religious history of our living antiques is explored in this exquisitely penned book, sure to be treasured by any literary gardener. -- Pam Beck Raleigh News and Observer 20011202 Thoroughly delightful. -- Valerie Sudol Newark Star-Ledger 20080312