Fantastic Flowers by Susan Stockdale

Fantastic Flowers, Written & Illustrated by Susan Stockdale Children’s nonfiction/nature, Ages 4-94    222.peachtree-online.com

Learning to see involves looking closely and learning the language to describe what is right before our eyes.  Fantastic Flowers is a perfect introduction for budding gardeners to explore the blooms in the flower beds of the world.  Susan Stockdale’s beautiful illustration of the shapes of flowers that look like upside down pants, prim ballerinas, or wild baboons introduces early readers to an imaginative view of nature.  A flower is not just a flower but can be compared to the shapes of other known objects. A hybrid Osteospermum spirals out in the shape of spoons, the hybrid Calceolaria represents a purse with a flap.  Teaching children to name what they see helps them remember and will spark their curiosity to look more closely at the beauty of the world.

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Plant, Exploring The Botanical World

Plant  Exploring The Botanical World  Phaidon Editors, C 2016

My Christmas gift to myself is this glorious compilation of botanical art, all 350 pages of brilliant renderings of the plants of the world. I judged this book by its cover, it was so beautiful I wanted it for the art piece alone.  The idea to pull together the oldest of illustrations of plant life to the newest technology renderings from artists, photographers, illustrators and scientists all in one volume was bold. The enormity of the work to select and arrange these is inspiring.

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The Bold Dry Garden

Lessons From the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Johanna Silver, Photographs by Marion Brenner, Published by Timber Press  2016

Today’s gardeners digging succulents and arid plants will immediately be attracted to the beautiful cover of The Bold Dry Garden.  The surprise in opening the book is that before you learn about arid plants you get a story of Ruth, a curious gardener who loves plants and design. Johanna Silver has written this important story of Ruth Bancroft and her Bold Dry Garden documenting her place in American garden history. Ruth’s succulent and cactus garden in Walnut Creek, CA has been growing since 1972. For over 40 years this garden filled with succulents, cactus, shrubs, and trees from arid lands around the world has been inspiring visitors.This was long before drought conditions introduced gardeners to such interesting plants as Aeonium, Agaves, Aloes, Euphorbias, Sedums and Yuccas.

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Gardens of Awe and Folly

GARDENS OF AWE AND FOLLY

A Traveler’s Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening by Vivian Swift

Visiting gardens wherever I travel is my greatest delight, yet friends ask, “Why? Don’t you see the same plants over and over?”   Vivian Swift in her new book Gardens of Awe and Folly, has the best answer to this question. She writes, “If all you ask of a garden is What?, then all you’ll probably get in reply is a planting list.  But ask instead, Why? How? When? and most of all, Who? and then you’re in for a nice, long conversation.”

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Around the World in 80 Gardens

August is a hot month in my Arizona garden and the heat is so constant it drives me inside.  Recently I’ve been busy researching gardens in New Zealand for our upcoming trip this fall.  By chance I found a Youtube program featuring Australian and New Zealand gardens.  The program was part of a 10 part series produced by the BBC2, Around the World in 80 Gardens with Monty Don, the host of “Gardeners’ World”. After one episode I was hooked and I’ve been traveling the world visiting gardens in Mexico, Cuba, India, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, China, Japan, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, South & North America.

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Inspiration from Chanticleer

The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer,  R William Thomas, Timber Press, 2015

In the nearly 100 gardens I visited in 2015, Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA was by far the most inspiring. I came home and implemented design ideas from a Northeast garden into my Southwest landscape.   Bill Thomas is the executive director and head gardener of Chanticleer and in the introduction he says the “book aims to be a conversation between our staff and you. . . Our garden exists to inspire and is filled with ideas to try at home.”  

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The Blue Rose, an English Garden Mystery by Anthony Elgin.

Retired Botany Professor Lawrence Kingston  is called in to examine the authenticity of a sapphire blue rose growing in Alex & Kate’s English garden.  Then a mystery begins without the blood & gore of so many mystery tales but with intrigue surrounding the ins and out of the rose industry, including gardening practices, vividly rainy days, strong tea and beautiful gardens.  Antony Elgin is a gardener, award winning rosarian and producer of  a series of best selling garden videos. Originally from England he lives in California where his  “pint-sized garden was awarded Garden Design magazine’s Golden Trowel Award.”  His English Garden Mystery series with Dr. Lawrence Kingston sleuthing his way through the plants and plotting includes six titles, the latest, The Alcatraz Rose includes action in San Francisco.  These books are highly entertaining for a gardener as the horticulture insights are delivered along with a good story. Other titles in the series I’m eager to try include, The Water Lily Cross, Gardens of Secrets Past, The Lost Gardens, The Trail of the Wild Rose. If you are a fan of PBS’s Rosemary & Thyme mystery series you will enjoy these books. 

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Digging Deep

Fran Sorin’s 10th Anniversary edition of Digging Deep,

Unearthing your creative Roots Through Gardening 

Author Fran Sorin offers such a clear song of hope in an era of ernest gardening.  This book offers garden guidance, motivation and inspiration to reframe your definition of gardening. So many gardeners are digging in their plants with a fear of doom and food appocolypse in their hearts.  If a gardener isn’t connected to the beauty and randomness of nature in gardening many will give up when the birds devour the first crop.   In these pages find you find a way to weave the everyday joy a garden offers as the essential work is done. You will know flowers are essential to feed the soul. This book will coach beginning gardeners, encourage the discouraged and inspire the devoted. If you are lucky enough to have a small patch of earth to tend, this book will speak to your heart and help you see you are indeed lucky enough.

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