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The Victorian Fern Craze


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About the Author

Dr Sarah Whittingham is an architectural historian who lives in Bristol. She specializes in the architecture, interiors and gardens of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 2008 she was elected President of the Council for the Preservation of Ancient Bristol.


"Searching out the story of a far-reaching plant hobby that began in Britain during the early nineteenth century, British architectural historian Sarah Whittingham has brought to light a fad that went across all segments of society. Discovering, cultivating, and displaying ferns was aided and abetted by amateur naturalists, botanists, nurserymen, and street vendors who urged society to grow these tender plantings in specially designed glass cases, conservatories, and glass houses. The rage for this greenery even reached into nineteenth century fashion, from jewelry, glass, and chinaware to building ornamentation. Although this craze slowly dissipated, the author draws attention to some contemporary examples of 'pteridomania.'" --Marilyn K. Alaimo, Chicago Botanic Garden Journal of Current Books on Gardening and Botany (March 2010)"Sarah Whittingham's book is a fascinating, lavishly illustrated look at this fern craze, examining social factors such as the rise of the amateur, middle-class urban gardener, the wealth of botany books and periodicals that sprang up in the mid-Victorian period (many specifically devoted to ferns) and to the fern as a popular motif in decorative art -- pottery, greeting cards and even designs on buildings." --Lidian, The Virtual Dime Museum, (April 2010)

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