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By the early eighteenth century botanists were inching towards the shocking truth that plants had male and female organs and reproduced sexually. The first person to realize the practical implications of this was London nurseryman and author Thomas Fairchild. By transferring the pollen of a sweet William into the pistil of a carnation, he created a new plant that became known as ‘Fairchild’s Mule’: the first man-made hybrid in Europe. But this primitive form of genetic engineering aroused a scientific and religious furore.
Michael Leapman offers fascinating and colourful detail about the life and times of Fairchild, a troubled, gentle soul whose pioneering work changed the course of horticulture and paved the way for the growth of gardening as a cultural obsession.
‘A beguiling perambulation around the Georgian nursery trade.’ Sir Roy Strong, Daily Mail
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