VICTORIA: The Seductress

victoria_rgb Victoria: the Seductress is the first major lavishly illustrated book that tells the fascinating story of the extraordinary Amazonian Victoria water lilies, their discovery, introduction into cultivation, adventures of countless personalities around the world who attempted to grow and understand this aquatic marvel, and the many ways in which this larger-than-life plant influenced Victorian culture and entered into the collective consciousness of society. Hailed as the Queen of the Plant Kingdom, Victoria has no equal among the plants of the world, and even today remains as elusive and unattainable for a home gardener and nature enthusiast, as she was 150 years ago when she entered for the first time into the princely homes and conservatories of Europe and America. Although the introduction of Victoria into cultivation inspired several magnificent folio books published in Europe and America in the 1850s, there have been few literary works published on this subject since. This book offers a new perspective on the subject, and presents a vivid portrait of Victoria for garden enthusiasts interested in natural and cultural history.

This book tells the story of Victoria’s discovery in the Amazonian wild and explains some the most intriguing aspects of lily’s biology, such as the flower’s annual development dictated by seasonal floods, and the lily as a rare case of thermogenic (heat generating) flowering and its pollination by nocturnal beetles.

This book is based on the author’s original research, expeditions to South America, visits to European and American gardens and museums, and historical sources. It also draws from a large body of literature in languages other than English to reflect the wider context to the Victoria narrative than previously presented. It tells the story of the plant through the lives of many explorers, naturalists, botanists, gardeners, and others who became involved in Victoria’s journey out of the wilds of the Amazon and Paraná, and into the princely houses of horticultural opulence and admiration in the civilized world. The book is richly illustrated, featuring 425 images, including many historical images, as well as the author’s original photographs.

The author, Dr. Tomasz Aniśko is curator of plants at Longwood where he oversees proper naming and identification of plants, coordinates plant trials, and leads plant exploration efforts.

Victoria: The Seductress will be sold at:

Longwood Gardens and online at www.longwoodgardens.org
Victoria: The Seductress (ISBN 978-1-935442-22-6) $69.99
Publication Date: May 1, 2013
468 pages, over 400 illustrations, mostly color, 10”x12”

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