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Potted History

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There are plenty of books on how to look after houseplants but Catherine Horwood is the first to show us how, when and why these plants came to be found in our homes. We learn how potted plants are as subject to fashion as pieces of furniture. For the Victorians it was the aspidistra in the front parlour; for us it is the orchid in the designer loft. We find that Wedgwood created a market for special bulb pots and that some of Conran's early designs were for houseplant containers. Then there is the story of mignonette: a modest plant once prized in every home for its intoxicating scent ... a scent now lost to us for ever. Catherine Horwood's novel combination of social history, plant history and the history of interior design is intriguing. Her illustrations come from a variety of unusual sources since potted plants can be found in many unexpected corners.
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About the Author

Dr Catherine Horwood is a cultural historian and honorary research fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. A former research fellow at the Yale Center for British Art, she has recently been awarded a Fellowship at the Huntington Library and Botanical Garden in California. She has published and broadcast widely on 20th-century social history. Dr Horwood has been involved with the National Gardens Scheme for many years and has a roof garden in north London and a patio in Oxford, both packed with pots.


Intriguing blend of social history, horticulture and interior design that examines changing fashions in houseplants Bookseller An interesting take on a topic that has rarely been discussed. Spectator A well-researched and intelligently written book, with appropriate and useful pictures - but also plenty to read. This is a book to recommend, both to those with an interest in growing plants indoors and under cover, and also those with an interest in social history. Garden An interesting book, well researched and illustrated, and an enjoyable read. Professional Gardener

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