04.1 Plant Thesaurus

The Plant Thesaurus is a guide to understanding how plants grow and combine together, listing in systematic detail the key attributes of over 600 plant groups. Based upon original research by Harry Watkins since 2011, it catalogues the growth of plants suitable for gardens and landscapes over the course of a year, illustrating for the first time the true nature of a plant.

Whereas traditional reference works simply list plants as mature specimens, the Plant Thesaurus provides context to show why certain plants are right for a given place, how they will grow and change there, and what influence they will have on their neighbours and their environment. It starts with the premise that all plants have evolved to respond to specific stresses and opportunities and that understanding these growth strategies are the key to being able to use plants successfully. As such, it will be of use to gardeners, designers, landscape managers, and presented clearly enough to be of appeal to non- specialists.

The Plant Thesaurus is based upon the CSR plant vegetation theory developed by Philip Grime, which explains how plants have evolved a combination of three growth strategies to exploit specific niches. These growth strategies are crucial to understand and a major gap in current and traditional horticulture resources outside of academia and will become increasingly important as new threats to plant systems emerge due to changing travel and trade patterns, creating an ever increasing need for plantsmen to appreciate genetic diversity and ecosystem resilience.