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John Parkinson

The Paradisi in Sole Paradisus terrestris. A Garden of pleasant Flowers (1629) by John Parkinson (1567-1650) was long the best known English gardening book and it retains its interest as a delightful first-hand record of plants cultivated in England early in the 17th century. Parkinson's account of Paeonia (pp. 341-344) begins with the statement: “There are two principall kindes of Peonie, that is to say, the Male and the Female. Of the Male kinde, I have onely known one sort, but of the Female a great many: which are thus to be distinguislied. The Male his leafe is whole, without any particular division, notch or dent on the edge, and his rootes long and round, divided into many branches, somewhat like to the rootes of Gentian or Elecampane, and not tuberous at all. The Female of all sorts hath the leaves divided or cut in on the edges, more or lesse, and hath alwaies tuberous rootes, that is, like clogs or Asphodill rootes, with many great round peeces hanging, or growing at the end of smaller strings, and all ioyned to the toppe of the maine roote”. Parkinson then described six kinds:

1. Paeonia mas. The Male Peonie (now Paeonia mascula);

2. Paeonia femina vulgaris flore simplici. The ordinary single female peonie (now P. officinalis);

3. Paeonia femina vulgaris flore pleno rubro. The double red peonie;

4. Paeonia femina flore carneo simplici. The single blush peonie;

5. Paeonia femina flore pleno albicante. The double blush peony;

6. Paeonia femina Byzantina. The single red peony of Constantinople (now P. peregrina).

He then stated that "All these peonies have beene sent or brought from divers parts beyond the seas; they are endenized in our Gardens, where wee cherish them for the beauty and delight of their goodly flowers, as well as for their physical vertues”.

From the book:

Peonies of Greece A taxonomic and historical Survey of the Genus Paeonia in Greece William T. Stearn and Peter H. Davis

1629 John Parkinson (1567-1650) published his herbal Paradisi in Sole Paradisus terrestris in this year. Parkinson had a garden in Long Acre and held the title of herbalist to Charles I. His work is more a gardening than a scientific book. In it he mentions five paeonies. The first is obviously P.peregrina, the red paeony of Constantinople, and the second is probably P.officinalis. Paeonies No. 3 and 5 are double-flowered garden forms ; he says of the double red form, " This double Peonie as well as the former single is so frequent in every garden of note through every country that it is almost labour in vain to describe it." The fourth paeony he describes may be P.arietina. This herbal is particularly interesting as it shows the paeonies that were grown in gardens in 1629.

Stern 1946

Parkinson, J. Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris. Or a choice garden of all sorts of rarest flowers, with their nature, place of birth, time of flowring, names, and vertues to each plant, useful in physick, or admired for beauty. To which is annext a Kitchin-Garden furnished with all manner of herbs, roots, and fruits, for meat or sawce used with us. With the art of planting and orchard of all sorts of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, shewing the nature of grafting, inoculating, and pruning of them... The second impression much corrected and enlarged. London, Richard Thrale, 1656. Folio (337 x 220mm). pp. xii, 612, (16), including woodcut frontispiece and 110 full-page woodcuts containing many hundreds of figures.

Second edition of the earliest important treatise on horticulture published in England. The first edition was published 1629. The charming woodcut frontispiece portrays the garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve tending the flowers. It is signed in the lower right-hand corner by Switzer, most probably Christopher Switzer, although a capital A is above his name, but it is not certain whether this is an initial or not. The other woodcuts in the book seem to be by the same hand. "The illustrations of plants were printed from whole-page woodblocks, each composed of a number of species. These appear to be mostly new figures but some are copied from previous works, including the 'Hortus floridus' of Crispan van de Passe the Younger... Part of the charm of the 'Paradisus' lies in the author's love of plants and his sensibility of their beauty, feelings strongly reflected throughout his writing. His book is of interest and value as a record of the state of horticulture in England at the beginning of the seventeenth century... Parkinson describes a great number of plants many of which grew in his own garden in Long Acre, and in his book refers frequently to contemporary botanists and gardeners" (Henry pp. 163-4). John Parkinson (1567-1650) was apothecary to James I. This royal connection was continued by Charles I who gave Parkinson the title 'Botanicus Regius Primarius'. Frontispiece with small repaired tear, new endpapers. Nissen 1489; Hunt 267; Johnston 221.
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