There is no shortage of books on how to look after houseplants but no one has shown us how and when and why these plants came to be in our homes. Catherine Horwood’s combination of social history, plant history and the history of interior design explains why, as Flanders and Swann sung in the 1950s, ‘the garden’s full of furniture / and the house is full of plants. In this fascinating book we learned how potted plants are as much subject to fashion as pieces of furniture. For the Victorians, it was the aspidistra in the front parlour, the Edwardians loved a palm, and, for today’s millennials, no home is complete without the ubiquitous fiddle-leaf fig.
This book show that there is little new when it comes to plants in the home. In the mid-18th century, Wedgwood created a market for special bulb pots and in the 1950s, some of Terence Conran’s earliest designs were for houseplant containers. Across the ages, the choice of potted plants has been influenced by the layout of houses, the levels of dirt and pollution and the equipment to hand.
Now, with so much choice, we seem happy to treat houseplants as disposables. This book gives a better understanding of the miracles that were once achieved with indoor plant displays, inspired by Sir Hugh Platt’s 1608 vision of a garden ‘within doores’. This new edition has been revised with new material added to bring the history of the houseplant and its massive explosion in popularity right up to date.