“plant-conscious” aka summer reading list 2019

Category : Books
Date : June 24, 2019

And so, we provide our summer reading list.

Summer brings us out into the garden and woods, appreciating nature’s daily changes and honing in on all the residents, both flora and fauna.  Early mornings before working in the garden and rainy afternoons are spent reading to become more “plant-conscious,” as author Richard Powers terms it.


The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells (Tim Duggan Books, 2019).

“Personally, I think that climate change itself offers the most invigorating picture, in that even its cruelty flatters our sense of power, and in so doing calls the world, as one, to action.  At least I hope it does.  But that is another meaning of the climate kaleidoscope.  You can choose your metaphor.  You can’t choose your planet, which is the only one any of us will ever call home.” (pp. 228-9).

Casting Deep Shade by C. D. Wright (Copper Canyon Press, 2019)

Ben Lerner writes in the introduction, “It is a book full of love and admiration for eccentric arborists and purveyors of folk knowledge, for they are—like the poet—committed to keeping the language and landscape particular, unpredictable, collective. Committed to preserving these slow-growth kinetic sculptures [beech trees] under siege by profiteers and voles. This is an uncommonplace book.” (p. x)

“Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation,” A United Plant Savers Publication (United Plant Savers, 2019).

“The Theme is Voices from the Land, with intent to share indigenous perspectives in relationship with plants.  This perspective is most profound in the article on white sage and the conflict with commercialization and cultural appropriation of a plant sacred to many…”We have filled this issue with international perspectives on how medicinal plants are managed, such as the innovations in Bulgaria and the impact of communism in regards to the medicinal plant trade in Albania…”In a rapidly changing environment we have a story from the Marshall Islands dealing with climate change, the opportunity of using invasive plants as medicine…”Stories from our Botanical Sanctuary Network and featured artists from our Deep Ecology Art Fellowship bring creativity to how we can enrich our relationship with plants and in return heal ourselves and the planet.” (p. 2)

The Art and Science of Natural Dyes: Principles, Experiments and Results by Joy Boutrup and Catharine Ellis (Schiffer Books, 2018)

“For millennia, humans perceived color through nature and its reflections in human interpretation. Throughout the ages and around the world, dyers relied on the colors obtained from plants, fungi, lichen, insects, shellfish, and rock minerals…”We want to understand how dyes and mordants work and how different types of fibers react to dyes, mordants, tannins, water, heat and ulturviolent rays…”Having very clear and precise instructions to follow helps us achieve that goal, but unless we understand the whybehind the how, we won’t be able to make the most intelligent decisions when changing circumstances require that recipes be altered…”Taking such factors into account, this book creates a bridge between art and science, showing us the way.”  (p. 8).

Shaker Herbs: A History and A Compendium by Amy Bess Miller (Clarkson N. Potter, 1976).

“An anonymous Shaker editor of the medicinal herb catalog published by the New Lebanon society gave his readers a bonus—a “supplementary” in 1851 which today would be termed a preface. This was the first time such a statement appeared in a Shaker medicinal marketing publication.  It reflects the reasons the Shakers felt so much care and effort should go into the production of medicinal products:

“Perhaps no study contributes more to the length, utility, and pleasure of existence—which adds to health, cheerfulness and enlarged views of creative wisdom and power, and which improves the morals, tastes and judgment, more than the science of botany.” (p. x).

A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D’Aquino (will be published in early September by Princeton Architectural Press).

“Ruth looked carefully at everything around her.
“What kind of plant are you? she wondered.“

“What a fascinating shape your shell is, Snail.”

“Hello Spider.
How did you figure out how to make your web?”

“Ruth liked to look at the drops of water in her garden.
She often stopped to notice how the light shone through their delicate shapes.”


Trees.  Plants.  Dyes. Herbal Medicines.  Hands.  And only one Earth. 

Comments (2)


Many thanks for your reading list – lots of food for thought about nature and its wonders.

4 years ago

    Thanks for reading the blog. Happy Summer Reading to you!

    4 years ago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Website by Roundhex. Adapted from Workality Plus by Northeme. Powered by WordPress