Potted History: How Houseplants Took Over Our Homes

Pimpernel. 2nd ed. ed. Mar. 2021. 176p. ISBN 9781910258941. pap. $16.95. gardening
In this updated edition, social historian Horwood (Beth Chatto: A Life with Plants) tells the story of houseplants in Britain from the 16th century to the present. The 14 chronologically arranged chapters describe the people—nurserymen, plant collectors, horticulturists—and changes in social and domestic life that influenced trends in indoor growing. From masking street stench with heavily scented plants, to pursuing Instagram likes, people have grown plants indoors for many reasons; those reasons can tell us much about the ways in which they lived. Harwood includes many quotes from works of the time, along with extensive endnotes, a bibliography, and lists of plants introduced or discovered by date, botanical and common name, and area of origin. The text is informative and detailed but sometimes dry. More illustrations showing how plants were displayed at the time would enrich the work and make it more appealing to general readers.
VERDICT Readers seeking an academic but accessible take on the relationship between houseplants and social history will enjoy this book.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing