By Kate Colquhoun.
This is the first biography of an unsung Victorian hero, Joseph Paxton, who rose from humble origins to become the most influential horticulturalist and innovative architect of his day.
Few people would know the name of Joseph Paxton today and yet he was responsible for some of the most famous architectural developments of the Victorian age, such as the Crystal Palace and the London Embankment.
The nineteenth century witnessed a revolution in horticulture and Paxton was at the forefront, transforming the Duke of Devonshires estate at Chatsworth into one of the greatest gardens in England.
Queen Victoria was among the visitors who marvelled at the enormous glasshouses and ambitious waterworks he constructed there.
He also brought some of the world's rarest plants to Britain, including several varieties of orchid, the dwarf banana and the gargantuan lily.
Paxton was a visionary who came to fame as the designer of the Crystal Palace, home of the Great Exhibition in 1851.
The building was heralded as the architectural triumph of its day.
Two thousand men worked for eight months to complete it and by the time it was completed, it was six times the size of St Paul's Cathedral, enclosed a space of 18 acres, and entertained six million visitors.
He later went on to become a Member of Parliament, where he was able to use his experience and imagination to influence urban planning.
Kate Colquhoun's insightful biography is the compelling story of a man who embodied the Victorian ideal of self-improvement and whose vision influenced the direction of British horticulture, architecture and town planning.