The Flower of Empire

The Flower of Empire

The Amazon's Largest Water Lily, the Quest to Make It Bloom, and the World It Helped Create

eBook - 2013
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
Narrates the story of the discovery of an Amazon water lily and its impact on Victorian life and culture, as prominent botanists of the day became obssessed in their quest to make the flower bloom in England.

Oxford University Press
In 1837, while charting the Amazonian country of Guiana for Great Britain, German naturalist Robert Schomburgk discovered an astounding "vegetable wonder"--a huge water lily whose leaves were five or six feet across and whose flowers were dazzlingly white. In England, a horticultural nation with a mania for gardens and flowers, news of the discovery sparked a race to bring a live specimen back, and to bring it to bloom. In this extraordinary plant, namedVictoria regia for the newly crowned queen, the flower-obsessed British had found their beau ideal.

In The Flower of Empire, Tatiana Holway tells the story of this magnificent lily, revealing how it touched nearly every aspect of Victorian life, art, and culture. Holway's colorful narrative captures the sensation stirred byVictoria regia in England, particularly the intense race among prominent Britons to be the first to coax the flower to bloom. We meet the great botanists of the age, from the legendary Sir Joseph Banks, to Sir William Jackson Hooker, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, to the extravagant flower collector the Duke of Devonshire. Perhaps most important was the Duke's remarkable gardener, Joseph Paxton, who rose from garden boy to knight, and whose design of a series of ever-more astonishing glass-houses--one, the Big Stove, had a footprint the size of Grand Central Station--culminated in his design of the architectural wonder of the age, the Crystal Palace. Fittingly, Paxton based his design on a glass-house he had recently built to houseVictoria regia. Indeed, the natural ribbing of the lily's leaf inspired the pattern of girders supporting the massive iron-and-glass building.

From alligator-laden jungle ponds to the heights of Victorian society, The Flower of Empire unfolds the marvelous odyssey of this wonder of nature in a revealing work of cultural history.

Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, [2013]
ISBN: 9781299156357
1299156355
9780199706044
0199706042
0195373898
9780195373899
Characteristics: 1 online resource

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at SPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top