The Cabaret of Plants Botany and the Imagination
By Richard Mabey
Published by Profile Books
Throughout The Cabaret of Plants, Richard Mabey’s eloquent and detailed descriptions illuminate the beauty of the plant world for the reader. With reflections from Richard’s own lifetime of experiences of the plant world, together with references and information about the findings and studies of other botanical researchers through time, Richard Mabey has gathered together stories of interest and fascination to delight every reader.
Prepare to be enlightened as to some of the interesting and exciting developments as they unfold throughout time, in the understanding of plants and plant science, from the earliest maize breeders to plant scientists; learn about the magical significance of some plants, discover more of the impact of the studies and the resulting discoveries of specific plants and their amazing, surprising capabilities, including water lilies, passionflowers, carnivorous plants, yew trees, orchids, the Titan arum and others.
The Cabaret of Plants is an intriguing book, with much of the information and anecdotes included, as you’d expect given the book’s title, to amuse and excite the reader; it is also poignant, touching, and tenderly written. Richard Mabey gives us a personal insight into his relationship with his friend and colleague, the late Tony Evans, describing how they worked together to achieve the often long-awaited attainment of the most symbolic photographs, after searching for the very best examples of each plant species to achieve the fruition of their works which they created together.
The reflections of the many types of art featured in The Cabaret of Plants, from the earliest known art works featuring plants, art works illustrating myths and plant legends, to the ‘Company Art’ style created by the East India Company in the seventeenth century, following their desire to gather scientific knowledge of the unrealised economic importance of plants, repeatedly demonstrate the significance of plants and the varying relationships and obsessions that surround them.
In The Cabaret of Plants, Richard Mabey charts some of the more remarkable encounters between people and plants, including those that detail some of man’s destructive, far reaching, often catastrophic, impact on the plant kingdom. For example, the story of the giant sequoias: the witnesses who first discovered these ancient trees were astounded by their majestic size and beauty, but despite this many of the giant sequoia trees were cut down soon after their discovery. One ancient sequoia tree was felled, in order for the stump to be smoothed so that it could become a dance floor on which thirty-two people danced, another ancient sequoia was cut down, and this time the stump was planed so that it could become a two-lane bowling alley. I hope that stories such as these will evoke a desire within each reader to protect and respect the beautiful, plant kingdom and encourage future generations to take inspiration from the beauty of nature, but to act with caution and refrain from causing damage to the natural world in which we are so lucky to live and to be able to share with plants.
Throughout The Cabaret of Plants, Richard Mabey demonstrates how humans have tried to make sense of the plant kingdom by comparing it to our own world, to our identity, looking for similarities or human features in a plant that can be identified with or recognised, and finding where connections can be made. Often plants with similarities to parts of the human body have been taken to signify that it is this very area of the human body that they were destined to treat, as if this is the very purpose of the plant’s existence, to help and heal humans. Throughout time similar connections have been made – night fevers were often treated with plants that flowered at night, or by plants that were gathered and collected at night.
In The Cabaret of Plants, Richard Mabey discusses whether plants have their own intelligence, relaying details of the chemical communication between plants as well as the sensory communications between plants and insects. Interesting studies of the sensitive plant, Mimosa, are recounted, all of which will intrigue and fascinate the reader.
The Cabaret of Plants is a beautiful book in every sense of the word; the dust jacket is illustrated rather splendidly with depictions of exotic plants, the artwork, photographs and illustrations chosen to accompany the text are delightful, and the book itself is interesting, intriguing and absorbing, it’s rich in content, which will enchant you from beginning to end. I love this book, I hope that you’ll love it too.
Other links and articles that may interest you……………………….
For more information on ‘The Cabaret Of Plants Botany And The Imagination’ by Richard Mabey, please click here.
To read my review of Katie Scott and Kathy Willis’ book Botanicum, please click here.
To read my 2016 recommended, trialled and tested gifts for gardeners, please click here.
To read my review of the Trug Makers hand-made trug No. 7, which is hand-crafted, using traditional methods in Sussex, please click here.
To read my review of Kathryn Aalto’s new book, ‘The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood’, please click here.
To read about Dalefoot Composts’ peat-free compost, which is made with sheep’s wool and bracken, and find out more about container gardening, please click here.
To read my review of Lakeland’s Apple Master, an amazing device that peels, slices and cores apples in super quick time, please click here.
To read my review of Garden Girl’s Rain Poncho, a lovely versatile, adjustable, waterproof poncho, please click here.
To read my review of the Espresso Mushroom Company’s Pearl Oyster Mushroom and Hot Pink Mushroom growing kits, (yes, you really can grow your own delicious pink mushrooms indoors!) please click here.
To read my review of the My Kitchen Food Dehydrator from Lakeland, please click here.
To read my review of the BiOrbAir, a specialised, automated terrarium from Reef One that features an ultra sonic misting unit and automatic watering system, please click here.
To read about live, growing Christmas trees, available from Wheeler Street Nursery in Witley, in Surrey, please click here.
To read my review of the Espresso Mushroom Company’s Wild Flower Tea Seedbombs, please click here.
To read my review of Burgon & Ball’s Weed Slice and Burgon & Ball’s Short Handled Weed Slice, please click here.
To read my review of Stephen Woodham’s latest book, ‘Garden Design Solutions: Ideas for Outdoor Spaces’, please click here.
To read my review of the EarthBox, a patented container growing system, please click here.
To read my review of Louise Curley’s latest book, ‘The Crafted Garden’, please click here.
To read the results of my 2015 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.
If you’re looking for reputable suppliers of snowdrops, sold ‘in the green’, please click here.
For gardening advice of what you could do at your allotment or in your garden from mid-November until mid-December, please click here.
For gardening advice of what you could do in your garden or at your allotment from mid-December until mid-January, please click here.
To read my interview with David Neale, an award winning Garden Designer based in Guildford in Surrey, please click here.