Botany for Gardeners By Brian Capon


Botany for Gardeners:

An Introduction and Guide


Brian Capon


reviewed by Caroline McCullagh


If you have ever wondered why the plants in your garden do what they do, Botany for Gardeners is a book I can recommend highly. It isn’t the kind of book you would curl up with to read for entertainment. It isn’t the kind of book you are going to love or hate. It’s a tool for gardeners. It’s the kind of book you will find more useful or less useful.

Capon is a retired college professor. The book reads just like what it is—a textbook—but a very good one. Capon jumps right into teaching mode with the first word of the introduction. Every sentence is packed with information. For example, he writes,

“Geographic isolation, favoring speciation, is also believed to take place when

cataclysmic geologic events split plant groups into small populations; and when, by

chance, a few seeds or spores cross mountains or large bodies of water, borne by

migrating animals, high altitude winds or ocean currents.” (page 77)

His style is straightforward, but dense.

Capon organizes the book in five sections, each having a prologue and two chapters.

Chapters include Cells and Seeds; Roots and Shoots; Inside Stems; Inside Roots and Leaves; Adaptations for Protection; Adaptation to Fulfill Basic Needs; Control of Growth and Development; The Uptake and Use of Water, Minerals and Light; From Flowers to Fruit; and Strategies of Inheritance. The chapter titles make it sound like fairly dry reading.  It is, and somewhat technical. However, I think anyone who remembers a little bit of high school biology and chemistry will feel comfortable with even the more technical parts.

The 220-page book includes 121 color photos and 53 black and white illustrations. Many of the illustrations come in pairs: first, a photo example of what is being written about and, next to the photo, a line drawing of the photo with all the relevant parts or functions labeled. These are well done, evidently by the multi-talented author, since no other credits are given.

One of the most useful parts of the book is a 16-page glossary-index. Key words are defined with all text locations listed. I haven’t seen this combination in a book before. It is extremely useful in a technical book of this nature.