The Magnificent Flora Graeca: How the Mediterranean Came to the English Garden


The extraordinary story of one of the most famous and beautiful of all botanical books is here vividly brought to life in this ravishing publication.

— Sir Roy Strong, former director of the National Portrait Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Stephen Harris has written a superb account of the story of the Flora Graeca. I have seen the originals and their beauty and exquisite detail are faithfully recorded here.

— Shirley Sherwood, author of New Flowering: 1000 Years of Botanical Art

The full-page color illustrations offer convincing proof of Bauer's genious; his ability to reproduce even the tiniest variations of spines, leaves, and petals is breathtaking. Side-by-side reproductions of the original watercolors and their engraved versions display an unmatched level of craftsmanship by the anonymous colorists. Even more amazing are the black-and-white field sketches, which Bauer coded with numbers from a color chart. Relying only on these numbers, Bauer created astonishingly accurate watercolors full of delicately rendered colors.

— Michael S. Gant, Metro Newspapers, California

(Please note that this really is a beautifully illustrated book — so rare these days — so please forgive my not-ready-for-prime-time photography!)

Published in 1830, the Flora Graeca is one of the most extraordinary botanical publications of all time. The spectacular quality of the botanical illustrations, the size of the publication (10 double folio volumes), its cost on publication (over GBP620 in 1830) and the lengths to which people went to see it all added to the Flora's reputation. In fact, there were so few copies of the first printing - just twenty five - that some people were skeptical that the book existed!

The Magnificent Flora Graeca: How the Mediterranean Came to the English Garden summarizes the story of the Flora Graca enterprise, and it profiles the leading characters, British scientist John Sibthorp and his celebrated illustrator Ferdinand Bauer, charting their eastern Mediterranean adventures in the early nineteenth century to collect a rich array of exotic specimens. The books also looks at the scientific and artistic aspects of the publication of the Flora Graeca and its printing history.

And, it looks at the horticultural legacy of Sibthorp's voyages and the plants he brought back to England, such as Crocus flavus ssp. flavus collected in Turkey, now popular in its own right as one of the parents of a popular garden hybrid, 'Golden Yellow', and Cyclamen persicum, now one of the most widely grown autumn-flowering species and the parent of many of the garden cyclamens.

Heavily illustrated with 100 color plates, The Magnificent Flora Graeca: How the Mediterranean Came to the English Garden brings together images of Sibthorp's specimens (looking remarkably fresh after 180 years) and illustrations from the original watercolours and the engravings preserved in Oxford, England. It makes available in print more images from the Flora Graeca than have ever previously been published!

The Magnificent Flora Graeca truly is a a fascinating treasure of floral wonders, which makes it a perfect addition to the collection of any plant or flower lover, or for anyone curious about the natural history behind their favorite garden retreat.

Stephen Harris is Druce Curator of the Oxford University Herbaria, a University Research Lecturer and a Governing Body Fellow of Green Templeton College.


  • Condition: New in New dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards
  • Edition: First Edition - Published December 15, 2007
  • Publisher: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
  • ISBN-13: 9781851243068
  • Pages: 200, 100 color plates
  • Dimensions: 9 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches
  • Rating:★★★★★ (See FAQs)

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