Cover image for The garden plants of China
Title:
The garden plants of China
Author:
Valder, Peter.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Timber Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
400 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), color map ; 30 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780881924701
Format :
Book

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SB407 .V347 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
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Summary

Summary

This definitive guide to the flora of China includes many cultivated plants that have had a great impact on the world, such as peonies, camellias, gardenias, azaleas, wisteria, and forsythia.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Years of experience gardening and a career in botany and mycology have made this well-traveled, award-winning Australian author an internationally recognized authority in horticulture. Valder's reference book on the plants from Chinese gardens that have had a major impact on Western horticulture has beautiful, copious color illustrations. Information about the history, occurrence, and use of more than 400 Chinese garden plants is covered in 20 chapters, beginning with one on Chinese horticulture, followed by separate chapters on ornamental plants in Chinese culture, the introduction of Chinese plants to other countries, ginkgo, cycads, conifers, bamboos, stone-fruited plants, orchids, magnolias, camellias, rosaceous plants, lilacs, peonies, wisteria and other vines, azaleas, roses, the lotus and other aquatics, chrysanthemums, citrus, and two final chapters on "others." Descriptive information is given for each plant, with Latin binomials, Chinese ideograms, and common names in English and phonetic Chinese. Where applicable, involvement of ornamentals with Chinese art, literature, symbolism, and everyday life is engagingly discussed. Glossary; extensive bibliography; table of Chinese dynasties. This splendid book is an important addition to the otherwise scanty and scattered literature in English on China's contribution to the garden splendor of the West and should be added to every library's horticultural section. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. L. G. Kavaljian; California State University, Sacramento


Excerpts

Excerpts

Over a very long period the Chinese have selected and developed an array of ornamental plants to use in the composition and adornment of their gardens. On the whole, unlike the gardeners of the Western world, they have not continuously sought novelty, preferring plants rich not only in physical beauty but in historical, literary, and symbolic associations. And the connection in China between the cultivation of ornamental plants and their representation in art, literature and decoration has long been an intimate one. In short, whether they be highly developed cultivars which can survive only with human aid or merely species saved from extinction or near extinction, the garden plants of China make up a very significant part of its cultural heritage. As mentioned above, they are valued not merely for their appearance but as icons of values and ideals accumulated over many centuries of appreciation. And these products of some 2000 or more years of Chinese horticultural endeavour eventually came to enrich gardens in much of the rest of the world, albeit cut off from their deep cultural roots and meaningless in symbolic terms to those who have little or no idea of their long past. Amongst the best known of these plants are peaches, peonies, chrysanthemums, camellias, gardenias, azaleas, forsythias, wisteria, and crabapples, to mention but a few. And the development of the modern repeat-flowering roses would not have occurred had the so-called monthly roses not been brought to Europe from Chinese gardens. Peonies The Shaoyao [peony] has remained a favourite flower in China, where plants are found in most gardens and parks in the areas which suit it. And although it is not a success in regions with mild winters, roots are shipped south annually as is done with the tree peonies. Herbaceous peonies have also been grown in China for cut flowers, a use to which in many ways they are better suited than as garden ornaments. Cibot (1786c) mentioned that in Beijing the plants were not sold, only the flowers, and that burning the bases of the stems made them last longer in the vase. Lotus The Chinese use only a small range of aquatic plants in their gardens. Of these the lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is by far the most important. It is cultivated in the ponds and lakes of most Chinese gardens and in smaller gardens and courtyards where it is, or at least was, planted in large earthenware or porcelain containers specially made for the purpose ... The fact that seed pods, flowers, and buds are present at the same time denotes the three stages of existence -- past, present, and future. The many seeds in each seed head suggest abundant progeny and, because its rhizomes are firmly rooted in the mud and its flowers and leaves are numerous, it is a symbol of steadfastness and prosperity in the family. And the pronunciation of the Chinese names for the plant, Lian and He , is the same as it is for other characters denoting continuity and peace, respectively. Hence the plant brings with it these connotations as well. Chrysanthemum The chrysanthemum is well chronicled in Chinese literature ... It is mentioned at least as far back as the 7th century BC, the appearance of the yellow flowers indicating the arrival of late autumn. It was subsequently mentioned in early pharmacopoeias as a safe and beneficial medicament, promoting longevity and immortality. Translations of both prose and poetry involving the chrysanthemum may be found in T. C. Lai's (1977) Noble Fragrance, along with reproductions of paintings of the plant. The symbolism attached to the chrysanthemum ... First there was its association with autumn, always seen as a romantic and melancholy season, when in ancient times sentences of execution were carried out, when the yang gives way to the yin, and when winter is known to be approaching. Then the chrysanthemum came to symbolise the Confucian scholar, for just as it withstood the shortening days and the onset of cold weather, so he too must withstand disfavour and disapproval for standing firm in support of some unpopular principle or rebuking some departure from Confucian ethics. Excerpted from The Garden Plants of China by Peter Valder All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.