SWEET, Robert (1783-1835)
The Florist's Guide, and cultivator's directory; containing coloured figures of the choicest flowers, cultivated by florists
London: James Ridgway, 1827-1829. 2 volumes, octavo. 2 titles, descriptive text, 200 hand-coloured engraved plates by J.Watts after E.D.Smith (199) and William Prest (1).
Contemporary full green morocco, spines gilt with raised bands in six compartments, red and brown morocco lettering piece, marbled endpapers, gilt edge
Provenance: Frederick du Cane Godman (bookplates)
First edition of Sweet's highly decorative practical guide to the cultivation of many of the most beautiful flowering plants then available
Each plate shows a single variety and is accompanied by text giving a taxonomic description and instructions for the plant's cultivation. The work displays a bias towards the Tulip family and includes 61 'biblomen' or multi-coloured varieties. Also included are Carnations (19), 'Picotees' or Dianthus (14), Pinks (18), Ranunculus (38), 'Georgianas` or Dahlias (6), Auriculas (27), Polyanthus (2), Hyacinths (7) and Roses (8). Not included, of course, are any Cistus (or Rock-roses) or Geraniums, both of which were dealt with by Sweet in two earlier monographs. Robert Sweet `was born in 1783 at Cockington, near Torquay, Devonshire. When sixteen years old he was placed under his half-brother, James Sweet, at that time gardener to Richard Bright of Ham Green, near Bristol, with whom he remained nine years. He subsequently had charge of the collection of plants at Woodlands, the residence of John Julius Angerstein… In 1810 Sweet entered as a partner in the Stockwell nursery, and when that was dissolved in 1815, became foreman to Messrs. Whitley, Brames, & Milne, nurserymen, of Fulham, till 1819, when he entered the service of Messrs. Colvill. While in their employ he was charged with having received a box of plants knowing them to have been stolen from the royal gardens, Kew, but was acquitted after trial at the Old Bailey on 24 Feb. 1824. In 1826 he left the Colvills, and till 1831 occupied himself almost wholly in the production of botanical works, while still cultivating a limited number of plants in his garden at [Pomona Place] Parson's Green, Fulham. In 1830 he moved to [Cook's Ground, King's Road] Chelsea, where he had a larger garden and cultivated for sale to his friends… He died on 20 Jan. 1835... He had been elected a fellow of the Linnean Society on 14 Feb. 1812. The botanical genus Sweetia was named in his honour by De Candolle in 1825.' (DNB).
Cleveland 930; Nissen BBI 1925; Great Flower Books (1990) p.143; not in Stafleu & Cowan.