Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom
Plants are essential for life. They make our planet’s atmosphere breathable, their decaying bodies create the soil under our feet, and they transform light energy into consumable nutrients that keep us alive. They also inspire artists; think of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Poppies, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Trees, Leaves, Flowers & Seeds combines the art and science of plants, revealing complex botanical details in beautiful photographs and simple graphics. While previewing this book, I wondered where it was when I was a child interested in learning more about plants. It reminded me why I began my career in horticulture. At its most basic level, horticulture is the science and art of growing plants.
This amalgamation of disciplines is what first attracted me to the profession and has held my interest for more than 40 years. This volume brought me back to Hort Studies 101, with each chapter examining different plants, their parts, and how they interact with the world around them. Thankfully, the photographs used reveal details—ranging from tangled roots to distinctive seed and flower shapes—that surpass the old transparency sheets used by my professors. Similar to Trees, Leaves, Flowers & Seeds, Smithsonian Gardens combines art and science in its many diverse garden and landscape exhibits. While their beauty is often what initially attracts visitors, the science they embody showcases our living collections and provides depths of engagement with our audiences. Our gardens are delightful examples of performative art. They change every season, indeed every day, of their existence. Smithsonian Gardens’ staff horticulturists and gardeners are extraordinarily knowledgeable when it comes to plant science, yet so much of their work evolves into genuine artistry thanks to their natural skill in combining living collections. Perhaps the fascinating information and engaging photographs in Trees, Leaves, Flowers & Seeds will launch an inquisitive child’s journey into the mesmerizing world of plants
Throughout this book, you will find scale boxes that show the sizes of plants compared to either a child, a school bus, or a human hand.
Cynthia Brown Smithsonian Gardens Education and Collections Manager
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