Author(s): WEBB DA
This is a key volume to anyone interested in wild saxifrages with a degree of botanical expertise tempered with tips on cultivation, on finding the plants in the wild as well as extremely useful extra chapters on saxifrages from other continents. In particular the chapters on North America and Africa must be recommended as invaluable.
Webb & Gornall approach the genus as taxonomic botanists. Professor Webb had contributed the definitive account of Saxifraga to Flora Europea (1964) as well as working for many decades on the status of many problems within the genus. Richard Gornall, well-known to many members of the society, is responsible for the revision of the genus which is now accepted by everyone in the field as the best overall account of the genus to date (except occasionally Plant Finder). Together their expertise on the European saxifrages was unchallenged and any enthusiast is incredibly lucky that they produced a volume which is both so readable and so well produced and illustrated. Any member who does not have a copy should make sure that they get one.
Each species is dealt with in detail , hybrids described, distribution maps, diagnostic features and botanical status are discussed, along with other sources of illustrations, type specimens, chromosome numbers. But although this is the way in which most readers will use the volume most of the time no-one should overlook the introductory chapters which would provide any reader with a valuable information about the genus, its botany, history and ecology, and there is a bibliography which is to say the least comprehensive. It is also worth pointing out that there are 60 colour plates, 75 maps, and 60 figures (including excellent black and white photographs). The only quibble with any of them is that they all relate to the European species (which is after all the title of he book) and it is a shame that the opportunity to illustrate the North American species in particular was not taken. As far as the European species are concerned there is a valuable key to aid identification.
As it says on the cover "This book is set to be the standard work on saxifrages, not only for the keen gardener, but also for the professional botanist, the botanically minded holidaymaker and, indeed, for all plant enthusiasts". Apart from pointing out that it is wild saxifrages rather than garden hybrids about which they write, this is unarguable. It is indeed a standard work and a very good one.