Sunday October 19, 2008 Tropicalismo! Book Review

Just out is Pam Baggett’s first book Tropicalismo!  Reading it while only 15 degrees from our first frost made it all the more poignant.  Already, I’m planning to add more tropicals to my beds.  I do that – but usually in January.  No doubt I will revisit Pam’s book again in January when I need to figure out where to get some of these plants.  And then I need to figure out where to actually put them.  Is that the way it works or is it the other way around?  I keep forgetting what comes first, get the plant for the place or find a place for the plant!  In either case, Pam’s book convinced me I need more.

It reads like a chunky catalog of tropical plants, but unfortunately there is no number to call to place the order.  Still, it convinced me to make the effort to find them.

Here’s a few of the nifty bits about the book I liked.

  • The obvious, which is Pam’s gift for description.  This should not be overlooked.  This would be hard to do since she leads each entry with a well thoughtout, artful description.
  • Each spread is the same.  The even numbered page has the description.  The odd numbered page has a drop dead gorgeous photo.
  • I like the listing of the way each plant is pronounced.  I’m challenged in this area enough.  Seeing a pronunciation guide is the next best thing to pushing a button and hearing how it sounds.
  • The care needs are easy to read, follow and understand.  You got to love graphics to tell the story.
  • I also like the size of the book…17″ wide by 15″ high.  Weird way to measure success, but somehow it works for me.  The book has to be comfortable to hold and it is!
  • But best of all for my design conscious sensibilities is that it is color coded!  If you are looking for just the right chocolate color to add to your garden, just flip through until you find a chocolate margin on the even pages (left side).

If I could change one thing, it would be to group all similar colors together.  But then that would throw off the alphabetical-ness of the book.  I can only imagine the discussions at Timber Press deciding what would be more important to the reader, color order or  alphabet order.  The alphabet won.  Having this book in my garden book library makes me a winner too.

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