Two new books from RHS Botany

It’s an exciting time for botany at the RHS. This month sees the launch of two books with which the botany team have been closely involved.

The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs and RHS Plant Finder 2014 will come out in April.

The Hillier Manual is a horticultural classic that gives concise, punchy descriptions of over 13,000 woody plants found in gardens in the British Isles. It has previously been published by Hillier Nurseries but for this edition (the 8th) the RHS has got involved as publishers and editors. Working with Roy Lancaster and John Hillier, the RHS botanists have overhauled the previous listings and added 1,500 new entries.

For months before the hand-in date, weekends and evenings were given over to hours of proof-reading and the hundreds of decisions that need to be made and never occur to you until you are confronted with them. Should the AGM symbol be accompanied by the date the award was given? (we went for no); how can the authors of plant names be prevented from running into the common names? (we inserted a fixed space between the author and the entry); how should the South Korean place name 울릉도 be rendered in English? (we went for Ulleung-do).

One of the things we are most pleased about with the Hillier Manual is that we have been able to harmonise the names used in the book with those found in RHS Plant Finder. This helps to provide a stable nomenclature and gives gardeners confidence that the same name is being consistently applied to the same plant. We really hope both books will help make gardening more interesting and more fun.

The burgeoning spring means there will be no respite in our work. As the sap rises we are flooded with requests from RHS members for plant identifications while Trials assessment gets properly underway and the Shows season kicks off in Cardiff. Added to our ongoing research interests it makes for a busy time but one full of fascinating and wonderful plants.

Over the coming weeks and months I hope to share some of the things that make working in the RHS Herbarium so interesting and I hope you will take the opportunity to comment on anything that catches your eye.

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