The Auricula: The story of a Florist's Flower
The plant geneticist Sir Rowland Biffen (1874–1949), who is best remembered for his work on the improvement of English wheat varieties using Mendelian principles, was also a keen botanist and gardener. This short work on the auricula, published posthumously in 1951, contains a full botanical account of the species, but also a social history of this most popular of 'florist's flowers'. Probably introduced to England by refugees from the continent in the late sixteenth century, the auricula, though delicate-looking, is extremely hardy, can be grown in pots, and hybridizes freely, and so it was an ideal plant for competitive growers, especially in the north of England, who in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries vied with each other to breed ever more spectacular varieties, while adhering to strict guidelines on form and proportion. This work, illustrated with seven black-and-white plates, will be of interest to botanists and garden historians alike.
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