The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination by Richard Mabey - review by Charles Elliot

Charles Elliot

Ways of Seeding

The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination


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Richard Mabey is our own Green Man. Who else has explored the world of British plants (and other countryside matters) so knowledgeably with such persistence and sheer enthusiasm, drawing so many of us along with him? Who else can write about nature with such fluency? In nearly twenty books, including such tours de force as his majestic survey of our native botanical riches, Flora Britannica, Mabey has done as much as anyone to celebrate and define our natural history. I’m certainly prepared to grant him as much latitude as he wants when it comes to pursuing a thesis.

His general argument is that these days we no longer credit plants with the kind of importance we give to animals or other creatures, instead viewing them as ‘furniture’ and taking them for granted. It was not like this in the past. In the 19th century, when botany was the

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