From Erica's list on orchid history and culture.
Well, thank god this book exists. It fills a huge gap—Joseph Paxton, an English architect, gardener, and engineer, as well as a lover of orchids—was everywhere, doing everything, in the 19th century United Kingdom! He built London’s Crystal Palace (cementing it as the first and possibly most grand World’s Fair in history) as well as directed all activities at Chatsworth (home to one of the world’s largest orchid collections in its time). The book shows us once again that the rich and powerful were not in complete control of the subtropical orchid trade—it took visionaries like Paxton to make them grow successfully in cold locations. I loved getting to know Paxton, his environs, and his relationships with all the well-known horticulturists and botanists of his age.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
This is a biography of Joseph Paxton, horticulturist to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, architect of the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and a great unsung hero of the Victorian Age. In the 19th century, which witnessed a revolution in horticulture and urban planning and architecture, Joseph Paxton, a man with no formal education, strode like a colossus. Head gardener at Chatsworth by the age of 23 and encouraged by the sixth Duke of Devonshire, whose patronage soon flourished into the defining friendship of his life, Paxton set about transforming this Derbyshire estate into the greatest…