Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history. Grow with us.

Legends in the Garden: Who in the World is Nellie Stevens?

By Linda L. Copeland and Allan M. Armitage

Foreword by Richard W. Lighty

One of those rare gems that reflects good scholarship, good writing, and fills a void so obvious that you are left wondering why such a book had not been written before.

American Gardener

If you've ever wondered about the people and places immortalized in plant names, this enlightening and entertaining book will provide some answers. Legends in the Garden introduces 46 people and places — some familiar, others unknown — associated with popular garden plants. Rosa 'Burbank' honors Luther Burbank, the "plant wizard" of Santa Rosa. John Champneys and Philippe Noisette, key figures in the development of the rose, gave their names to R. 'Champneys' Pink Cluster' and R. 'Blush Noisette'. But who were Nellie Stevens (Ilex 'Nellie Stevens') and Frances Williams (Hosta sieboldiana 'Frances Williams')? This delightful book combines accounts of the lives of these intriguing characters with descriptions of the plants that bear their names and the stories of their chance discoveries or deliberate breeding.

Filed under: ,

Media reviews

"People and plant stories intertwine, greatly enlivening the history of horticulture."


"A unique little hardcover that will put faces with the names of a number of those cultivars, or hybrids, that have become so popular ... Stimulating, educational reading."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"Theres really quite a crowd sharing those beds in the backyard, but who are those people? ... Part celebration of plants and people, part history book — Knowing the stories behind the plants in your borders can make a stroll in the garden seem like a visit with friends."

—Denise Cowie, Philadelphia Inquirer

"What a labor of love to research and record those wonderful stories about naming outstanding plants! ... One feels like an 'insider' having the privileged information."

—Jean Johnson Givens, Garden Gateways

"Gardens are more than just a bevy of flowers and shrubs. Every plant has a history, a story to tell, a face or two behind the flower and foliage. And Legends in the Garden shares some of these fascinating tales ... Gardens will take on a new meaning to readers of Legends."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"Book animates gardeners of old ... Im enamored of the neat, little book ... which details the lives and discovery events of almost four dozen such gardeners, all Americans, and each of whom has an enduring plant named after them ... Its a celebration and journey to bring alive a few of the observant, inquisitive, 100 percent American gardeners whose legacy is ours to share."

—Felder Rushing, Jackson Clarion Ledger

"Those curious about the origins of plant names like Annabelle hydrangea and Arnold Promise witchhazel will enjoy Legends in the Garden."

—Marty Hair, Detroit Free Press

"A whimsical volume ... Tells the stories of the people for whom many of our most-loved plants were named."

—Denise Cowie, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Legends in the Garden is one of those rare gems that reflects good scholarship, good writing, and fills a void so obvious that you are left wondering why such a book had not been written before."

—Dick Bir, American Gardener

"A delightful little book."

Floral and Nursery Times

"Unlocking the secrets of modern garden plants, their origins, and intriguing names is explained in Armitage and Copelands Legends in the Garden ... Great stories of gardeners and their namesakes are chronicled."

—Pam Beck, Raleigh News and Observer

"Lively Legends provides a look at plant origins ... To read the stories makes one wonder what plants we might have missed and what is out there yet to be discovered."

—Martha Tate, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"I could hardly put the book down and of course I learned far more than I had expected to."

—Herman McKenzie, Northside Sun

About the authors

Linda L. Copeland

Linda L. Copeland grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and graduated from Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, with a BA in Economics. Always passionate about flowers and gardens, her serious studies in the field of horticulture began at the University of Georgia in 1992. She lives and gardens in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Atlanta History Center, the Southeastern Flower Show, and Gardens for Peace. For the last ten years she has coordinated garden tours abroad for Garden Vistas. Linda and her husband Dean have a son and daughter, and three precious grandsons.

Read more about Linda L. Copeland

Allan M. Armitage

Regarded as one of the world's foremost horticulturists, Allan M. Armitage travels as a lecturer and consultant. Charming and lively as well as knowledgeable, Allan is in constant demand as a speaker, and sees working with plants as therapeutic, exciting, and creative.

Read more about Allan M. Armitage

Want this author to speak at your event? Visit the Timber Press Speakers Bureau

This book is no longer available

Unfortunately, we don't have any copies of this book for sale.