4 out of 4 stars
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Houseplants 101: How To Choose, Style, Grow, And Nurture Your Indoor Plants is the latest in a series of plant books by Peter Shepperd. If you’re thinking of buying some plants for your home and are looking for some guidance on the subject, then look no further. You’ll find all the advice you need inside the pages of this delightful book. The book is aimed primarily at people who are novices in this field, the type of person who has tried keeping houseplants in the past but found that they were more of a "plant murderer" (page 9) than a plant nurturer. The author hopes his easy-to-follow guide will persuade these people to have another go. The author also provides plenty of ideas and tips for the more skilled plant enthusiast.
The book consists of six chapters, bookended by an introduction and a conclusion. Total beginners in this field may find the first two chapters of greatest interest, as they cover basic care for houseplants and the best ones to buy. Readers more knowledgeable about plants may find they learn new things from the chapters covering topics like edible plants, succulents, how to re-pot plants, and plants with which to style your house. The book is packed full of scientific information and practical tips. The text is accompanied by more than fifty photographs that add splashes of color to the book.
I loved this author’s style of delivery. He has a light, humorous way of writing that enables him to impart quite a lot of technical and scientific detail without it ever becoming tedious. Here’s one example from page 34: “While some plants will throw an almost immediate fit when you move them—Fiddle Leaf Fig, I’m looking at you—others will show their unhappiness over time.” His use of phrases like “plant parents” (various pages) and “plant babies” (page 32) acts as a counterbalance to some of the more cerebral scientific bits. The author’s light touch is also the perfect vehicle for conveying the enthusiasm he has for his subject and his love for plant life. In the course of the book, he provides us with many good scientific reasons for cultivating our own indoor urban jungle, including cleaner air, but the best reason he saves for near the end of the book: “Caring for houseplants not only feeds the soul, but it has a more tangible impact on you physically and psychologically.” (page 169)
One small flaw in the book is found in how its images are labeled. Details of the fifty-five figures used in the book, such as where they were obtained from and the name of the photographer, are given in the reference section. The images are not numbered in the main body of the book, however, so there is no easy way of matching the image with the relevant reference.
I’m pleased to award this book 4 out of 4 stars. I can state, in all honesty, that it has inspired me to go looking for plants for my own home. It has been professionally edited and I found fewer than a handful of minor errors. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in plants, indoors or outdoors. Total beginners – I’m looking at you, plant murderers - will find it of particular interest.
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