Author(s): Chris Beardshaw
A tapestry of musings, rambles and I didn t know that facts that document some of the diverse, fantastic and entertaining relationships that humans have forged with plants throughout the ages. From the bewildering array of potential sustenance, nourishment and symbolism to the increasingly complex practical associations, effects and reactions they elicit, there can be no doubt that plants have provoked wonder, amusement and delight. They have bemused, confounded, frustrated and astonished those who have elected to experiment with them or have been confronted with such dazzling variety when in search of solutions to human problems. From adopting and popularising exotic plants as part of a nation s diet to discovering, or sometimes stumbling upon characteristics that facilitate technological advances, our relationship with the plant kingdom is as broad, wonderful and strange as the plants themselves. These pithy stories span species celebrated as tribal fodder to delicacies elevated as some of our most valued possessions. From the ultimate symbols of devotion and love to campaigns that resulted in genocide, revolt and the shaping of the global political landscape the thousands of plant species that are irrevocably intertwined with our existence have been deployed in warfare, espionage and even space travel. Never again will a carrot on a dinner plate, the seductive scent of a woman s perfume, or a pineapple in a fruit bowl be viewed with indifference. The relations forged reveal details of miscellaneous human traits, from our instinct for survival to decadent aesthetic expression, from ingenuity and inventiveness to stupidity and greed encapsulating superstition, fear and the absurd. Perhaps surprisingly many associations, no matter how historic and apparently disconnected, still have huge significance in our lives. Some of course were, and remain still, simple folly. What persists is our unquenched curiosity to unravel and unlock the secrets of the plant kingdom for our own ends resulting occasionally in absurdity but sometimes in mind-boggling technological advances. AUTHOR: Chris Beardshaw is one of the leading lights in the world of gardening. On screen and on air, Chris is loved by millions for his ability to communicate and share his rich vein of knowledge with warmth and enthusiasm. Off screen he is equally admired for his huge variety of work in design and education, where he is recognised as a real ambassador for the industry. Chris heads up a private design practice and has undertaken commissions for a number of high profile projects for clients such as English Heritage, The RSPB, RNLI and Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. He is a regular columnist for The English Garden and Garden News, and is the author of three books. Chris s broadcasting experience spans 14 years notable programmes include: Apples: British to the Core (BBC4), Wild About Your Garden (BBC1), The Flying Gardener (BBC2), Gardeners World (BBC2), Hidden Gardens (BBC2) and many more. He is also a long standing, regular panellist on BBC Radio 4 s popular Gardeners Question Time.