Unless it is a phalaenopsis orchid, friends have long since learnt that the pretty pot plant they have just given me will probably be dead by the time their car has reached the end of the road. I have a fully justified reputation of being ‘bad with house plants’.
However, Baylor Chapman’s book Decorating with Plants – might hold the secrets to future success. Even if it doesn’t, it is still a delightful and fascinating book.
An A- Z of Plants
Baylor takes the reader through an A –Z of plants from Air Plant to the ZZ Plant (Zamioculas zamiifolia – if like me you have never heard of a ZZ plant before).
Along with each gorgeous picture of the plants comes an easy to read description and basic care instructions.
Baylor has taught me that Palms were around with the dinosaurs and there are over 2500 species; Air plants hail from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador; Pilea evidently were discovered in a Chinese mountain range and taken to Norway in 1946 by a Norwegian missionary living in China – hence its common name – ‘missionary plant’; and about Sansevieria (‘mother-in law’s-tongue) with its connections to enchantment and superstitions.
Plant and Display know-how
The book tells us how to Get Started – choosing and buying plants, potting them up, etc, then extends to an in depth Room by Room Guide offering advice on how to position and display the plants. We found the ‘Kitchen’ section particularly interesting as it includes edible plants that can thrive indoors.
Every now and again there are tantalising glimpses into the history of plants and their uses, such as medicinal plants and plants for feng shui. Usefully she also tells us if the plants are harmful to animals or humans, and there is an Appendix which lists common and botanical names.
Congratulations to Aubrie Pick for the terrific 225 photographs; and also to Baylor Chapman for encouraging me to bring plants into the house.
Decorating with Plants. Baylor Chapman. ISBN: 978 1 57965 776 5. £18.95.
Artisan Books. www.workman.com