How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants
The book is now on sale — Feb. 25, 2014
In the tradition of The Botany of Desire and Wicked Plants, a witty and engaging history of the first botanists interwoven with stories of today’s extraordinary plants found in the garden and the lab.
In A Garden of Marvels, Ruth extends the story of her first book, Paradise Under Glass. Frustrated by plants that fail to thrive, she sets out to understand the basics of botany in order to become a better gardener. She retraces the progress of the first botanists who banished myths and misunderstandings and discovered that flowers have sex, leaves eat air, roots choose their food, and hormones make morning glories climb fence posts. She also visits modern gardens, farms, and labs to discover the science behind extraordinary plants like one-ton pumpkins, a truly black petunia, a biofuel grass that grows twelve feet tall, and the world’s only photosynthesizing animal. Transferring her insights to her own garden, she nurtures a “cocktail” tree that bears five kinds of fruit, cures a Buddha’s Hand plant with beneficial fungi, and gets a tree to text her when it’s thirsty.
In her friendly and reassuring voice Kassinger introduces the basic botany of plants—flowers, roots, stems, and leaves—and explains how they function together. Combining science and botanical knowledge with reflections on her personal quest to become a better gardener, and illustrated with more than two-dozen black and white drawings, Garden of Marvels is a journey of discovery that offers fresh and unexpected insights into the natural.