Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Three Books that Plant Ideas


Each of these books deserves its own posting but time is not on my side at the moment. They are quite different but each of them does what we try to do as a botanic garden: inspire the appreciation and conservation of plants.

Trees of History and Romance – Essays from a Mount Wilson Garden, by Michael Pembroke. Illustrated by Libby Raines.
I was lucky enough to read a draft copy and have commented already on the dust jacket about how much I enjoyed this book. Written and illustrated by two Mount Wilson (at least one partly transient) residents, this is a book to dip into, to savour, and to learn a little from. It’s written by someone who obviously loves plants and the stories that go with them. It’s a wonderful read.

Australia’s Remarkable Trees, by Richard Allen and Kimbal Baker.
I have a friend who describes these kinds of books as botanical pornography. He means this in a nice way – the pictures and words are so seductive. And this is a great example. Beautiful pictures and fascinating stories (I bought it for the articles…). It will make you want to visit the trees and to look after them.

Germplasm Conservation in Australia – Strategies and Guidelines for Developing, Managing and Utilising Ex Situ Collections, edited by Catherine A. Offord and Patricia F. Meagher.
The longest, and quite explanatory, title. Not a book to cuddle up with in the evening, or to drool over, but perhaps of the three the one that may most directly save the world. It’s all about how we store seeds and other bits and pieces of plant so that we have a back-up collection should something awful happen to their natural habitat. The seeds can be planted out again to restore vegetation or be used to maintain the species if we want to keep that genetic line alive. It’s very practical, very accurate and very important.

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