Planthropology: The Myths, Mysteries and Miracles of My Garden Favorites by Ken Druse
I hit on a real winner here. I had not heard of Ken Druse but now I intend to read everything he has written. He is a passionate writer and the photography is amazing. Planthropology is the anthropology of plants; it deals with the origins, physical and cultural development, and characteristics of plants. That may sound a little dry, but the book is full of wonder and the style is very readable. The book is split into four parts. I most enjoyed 'Discovery' in which we look at plant exploration, historically and from the point of view of a child. We learn the origin of terrariums, of plant names and of herb gardens. We read about poisonous and medicinal plants. Part 2, Attractions, gives a fascinating view of the techniques plants use to attract pollinators. The pages on fragrance are particularly evocative. Elegant Design takes us from strange numerical relationships in sunflowers to planting in odd numbers, to giant water lilies and beyond. Finally in Growing Forward, the author writes about more of his favorite plants, with asides on deer resistance and growing trees from seed. This book is highly recommended, not only is it a great read, but you pick it up again anytime and browse the incredible photographs. If you don't know what to put on your Christmas list, ask for Planthropology.