The John Tradescants: Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen by Prudence Leith-Ross

This book was recommended by one of the Readers‟ Group members who was unable to attend at the beginning of the meeting. Most of those there had obtained a copy but nobody had actually read the book as it was found to be more of a reference book than a reading book and the lists of plants with their prices and their origins had not been particularly interesting. One member had got as far as the first 72 pages and another, the undersigned, had skimmed through the historical parts but not the botanical sections, thus drawing the short straw for this report.
The John Tradescants, father and son, were both plant and artefact collectors and gardeners and I found the descriptions of the people for whom they worked and the houses and gardens in which their patrons lived very interesting. The elder John Tradescant was employed by the King, James the First, the Duke of Buckingham and others to design and plant their gardens and there was interesting information about the doings of the Court and the aristocracy of the time as well as descriptions of John Tradescants‟ travels to find and purchase the required plants.
There were also descriptions and catalogues of his and his son‟s collection of artefacts, many of which are now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. However, it did seem more of a reference book and not an easy read. When the reader who had recommended it finally turned up she expressed surprise that nobody liked it and said she had read it, admittedly a long time ago, but she had found it an enjoyable novel! When she looked at the book she found that she had recommended the wrong one as she had not read that one. After a little research she found the title of
the one she had meant to recommend which was “Earthly Joys” by Philippa Gregory, also about the John Tradescants but much more readable! As nobody had read the one she had mistakenly recommended there was not very much discussion about it. However other talk flowed freely over the tea and cakes which were very much appreciated.

Jane Yardley