April 27, 2011
In Planthropology, Ken Druse explores the history, biology, economics, and cultural significance of plants. In addition, each page includes striking photographs of flowers and plants, including a note of scientific or culturally significant information next to it; with the genus name.
Image of Banksia, a genus of plants with bottlebrush flowers, named after Sir Joseph Banks, p. 22 from “Planthropology: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites” by Ken Druse. [New York, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008].
Library's Call Number for Planthropology is SB455 .D78 2008
April 20, 2011
If you love water gardens and always dreamt of owning one, you can learn how to build one yourself. The Arboretum Library has many books with easy-to-read instructions on constructing ponds, selecting specific flowers and plants for your water garden, and the types of fishes that are appropriate for a pond.
Members can check books out for three weeks and renew them twice! Non-members are welcome to browse the library stacks and take notes. As a friendly reminder, admission fee to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is not required to use the Arboretum Library.
Image of water lilies, p. 66 from “Water Gardening Basics: by William C. Uber. [Dragonflyer Press, Upland, CA, 1988].
To see a list of books on water gardening, please click on water gardens
April 13, 2011
The Reading the Western Landscape Book Group met April 6, 2011, to discuss In a Desert Garden: Love and Death Among the Insects. Below is a summary of the questions that were brought up for that book and a preview of the book that will be discussed on April 6 at 7:00pm.
Previous book selections can be found here and future selections here.
April 2011 – A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories
A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories, by Norman Maclean; Chicago: University of Chicago Press ©1976. Find it at your local library.
From a review: “[Maclean] would go to his grave secure in the knowledge that anyone who'd fished with a fly in the Rockies and read his novella on the how and why of it believed it to be the best such manual on the art ever written–a remarkable feat for a piece of prose that also stands as a masterwork in the art of tragic writing.” (Philip Connors Nation)
Specific questions for this book include:
Talk about the women in this book. Describe a passage about women where they don’t seem objectified.
What is the reason for the way the author portrays women?
What does this book say about familial relationships?
What is Maclean generally trying to say?
How does the last line fit with the rest of the story?
What can Maclean cherish in the story?
Give some examples of how nature relates to the people for better. Or worse?
May 2011 – The Blue Plateau: an Australian Pastoral
Discussion on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
The Blue Plateau: an Australian Pastoral, by Mark Tredinnick; Minneapolis, Minn.: Milkweed Editions ©2009. Find it at your local library.
The Blue Plateau is located in the Blue Mountains southwest of Sydney. This book reveals the plateau through its inhabitants: the Gundungurra people, the Maxwell family, the ranchers and firefighters; and the author himself. This book incorporates poetry, history, ecology, mythology, and memoir. From the WorldCat summary.
For more information about the Reading the Western Landscape Book Group and to RSVP, please contact the Arboretum Librarian, Susan Eubank, at 626-821-3213 or via email.
April 6, 2011
Want to learn about the natural history of the world by reading about the interrelationship of geology, botany, zoology, ecology, biogeography, climatology and paleontology, and learn how different phenomena throughout the earth's history has affected the natural world we live in? Amateur researchers as well as professional ecologists can take advantage of The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden Library's wide selection of books on this topic and learn how the natural environment has evolved and the interrelations among different forms of life.
Image of “The Blue Heron” (Ardea caerulea purpureo capite) p. 14, inscribed in pen and ink, over brush and green watercolor and graphite, in “Mark Catesby's Natural History Of America: The Watercolors From The Royal Library, Windsor Castle” by Henrietta McBurney. [Houston, TX, Museum of Fine Arts, c 1997].
Anthony Eglin has written a horticultural mystery novel, a very imaginative and striking idea. He sent out announcements to garden clubs and that is how I came across his book. His usual beat is rose gardening. He has made gardening videotapes and has been awarded a prize for his personal rose garden in Sonoma. Mr Eglin’s credentials are thus impeccable.
The mystery novel set in gardening circles is not altogether unknown. One of the very first was by Sheila Pim, an Irishwoman who wrote Common or Garden Crime back in 1945. More recently Anne Ripley has devoted herself to this genre, with books such as Mulch, Harvest of Murder and Death at the Spring Plant Sale. There are also other writers, both English and American.
Making use of a professional skill such as horticulture or in other cases, cooking, fishing, breeding cats and so forth is an excellent way of incorporating realism and credibility into a crime novel. Ministers of several major religions also feature in many such works: Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by the late Harry Kemelman is a particularly attractive one.
Anthony Eglin grew up in England but has lived in the US for many years. As a result he writes in a truly mid-Atlantic style. English usage such as “blathering on” (chattering too much) or “spatchocked” (jammed into) sits side by side with American wording, “called up” (UK: ringing up) and “going out the door” (UK: going out of the door).
Reviewing a mystery story is a fine art, telling the prospective reader enough to make them want to read the book but not so much that it gives the game away. Anthony Eglin introduces his chief characters right at the beginning. The Sheppards, a delightful married couple, buy an old parsonage in a Wiltshire village, Steeple Tarrant. Alex is an architect and Kate owns an antique store in a nearby country town.
The parsonage garden has been neglected for ages and while Kate is entranced by its possibilities, Alex sees only dreary hard work ahead. All this changes when they hack through into the rear of the property and find a flourishing rose bush bearing sapphire blue flowers.
Creating a truly blue rose is a holy grail of rose breeding, and has never been accomplished. Here is where the author shows us his depth of knowledge, explaining that the gene for bright blue delphinidin cannot be taken from the genus in which it resides and made to work with rose genes.
The rest of the book is devoted to what might happen once the barrier were overcome. Visions of gigantic wealth dance before the Sheppards’ eyes. There is a large cast of supporting characters and the author distinguishes them very nicely through dialogue.
The insights into large but purely imaginary nursery firms are not pretty. Before the end of the book the Sheppards are heartily sick of their discovery. It has caused them only grief. That is all I am going to tell you. The rest is up to you to find out.
Eglin, Anthony. The Blue Rose. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.
Find this book at the Arboretum Library here.
We're fortunate to be featuring book reviews by horticultural history author Judith M. Taylor. After a career in neurology she retired to northern California and now “practices history without a license.” She is currently working on her forth book and is the honorary librarian and book editor for the San Francisco Garden Club. Her website is Horthistoria.