The Dominion of Flowers

Mark Laird

Publicaton Date
September 2024
Standard Number
Yale University Press

How a wave of exotic botanical imports from across Britain’s empire shaped its gardens
Between 1760 and 1840, exotic plants were imported from across Britain’s empire and were lavishly depicted in periodicals and scientific treatises as specimens collected alongside other objects of natural history. Mark Laird’s provocative new book – part art history, part polemic – weaves fine art, botanical illustration and previously unpublished archival material into a political and ethical account of Britain’s heritage, showing how plants were not only integral to English gardens of the Georgian and Victorian eras but also to British culture more broadly.
The Dominion of Flowers shines with captivating cross-cultural plant stories. The book opens with the Seymers’ exotic Butterflies and Plants and Pulteney’s catalogue of Dorset’s native wildflowers. It then moves to the German artist John Miller and his illustrations for Lord Bute’s Botanical Tables and concludes by tracing Britain’s fascination with New Zealand’s unique flora, first depicted in Mary Delany’s collages.
Copiously illustrated with almost two hundred works, and drawing on Laird’s genealogical research into his own family’s colonial past, this volume foregrounds Indigenous ideas about 'plant relations' in a study that brings the trans-oceanic movement of plants and people alive.