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.
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For more information on ‘The Cabaret Of Plants Botany And The Imagination’ by Richard Mabey, please click here.
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