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PLANTHROPOLOGY

--- Anne K Moore July 4, 2009 ---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---

Not only do I have a passion for gardening just like Ken Druse, I also have a passion for garden books.  Writers who are hands in the dirt gardeners are the best reads.

One of those garden writers that gardeners dig is Ken Druse.  He is one of the premier garden photographer/writer’s in the nation.  He is an organic gardener, a designer, a lecturer and naturalist.  He is also a trained artist and avid gardener.  His books are beautiful. 

These titles from my own library illustrate his gardening fevers:  The Natural Shade Garden; The Collector’s Garden; The Natural Habitat Garden; The Passion for Gardening; probably the premier book of all time for illustrated propagation of plants, (and a Garden Writer’s Book Award Winner) Making More Plants. 

His newest book, Planthropology, is just as beautiful and interesting as the rest.  Never heard of Planthropology?  That’s because Ken made up the word to fit the content.

In this newest book his art background co-mingles with his love of plants and gardens.  This is where gardens and history meet.  He takes us down through the gardening-related ages in art and story, explaining the significance of an included flower or just describing the familiar background scenes in works of art from long ago.

An interesting tidbit in Planthropology, among many, is the section about plant hunters.  Down through the centuries, these plant explorers have risked their lives to find new plants and bring them to our gardens. 

In 1770, one of the best-known plant-finding excursions sailed into an Australia cove.  The bay where they anchored gave a safe harbor to the ship Endeavour, captained by James Cook.  The ship carried the renowned plant explorer, Joseph Banks, and his small group of plant explorers.  Sydney Australia’s harbor is still known today as Botany Bay because of the 110 new genera and 1,200 new species collected there by Banks and his cohorts.

Find out which plant hunter was burned at the stake, which was eaten by cannibals, and which lived to tell tales of the plant hunting experience.

Ken describes how terrariums came into being, and soon decorated Victorian parlors, renamed as Wardian Cases.  Dr. Nathanial Ward was the first to discover this method of growing finicky plants.  He was actually growing a moth chrysalis in a jar, but Voila!  Plants grew, too.

I can definitely recommend this book or any other hardback by Ken Druse.  Each is beautiful enough to rank as a coffee table book, but too good to just display for show.  I am a fan.

Visit his gardening website, http://www.kendruse.typepad.com/  and subscribe to his podcast, “Real Dirt”.  Ken will help keep you up to date on what is happening in the gardening world.

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