Book Reviews: Legends of the Leaf by Jane Perrone and The Garden Aviary by Gail Harland

I have reviewed two new books that I thought might be of interest: one on houseplants and the other is history of garden avaries.

To be transparent:  I bought Legends of the Leaf but I have not paid for The Garden Aviary, in both reviews my words and opinions are my own and I have not been paid to write these reviews.

Legends of the Leaf by Jane Perrone
Jane Peronne is the queen of houseplants, I have no hesitation in saying this.  Jane is a well known journalist writing for the Guardian and Gardens Illustrated amongst others and has been hosting 'On the Ledge', her podcast on houseplants, for some years now.  When I saw that Jane was crowdfunding this book I quickly signed up and contributed, I knew this would be a book worth having.

Midway through reading the introduction my belief in this being a good book was more than confirmed.  Jane tackles colonial botany, the white men (as it was largely men) who went on plant 'hunting' trips at risk to themselves and to the indigenous people who often had no choice in helping them.  This book is more than just how to look after your houseplants, Jane explains when and how they were introduced to the West so that we get the full picture of their history.  This is my kind of houseplant book.  

The book covers a good range of house plants which are well known and easily purchased.  The book is structured from A - Z with 25 plants being featured.  Jane tells us the story of a plant and then we get a care guide specific to that plant.  As I am currently having some aspidistra issues (more of that another day) I quickly went to that page which confirmed what I thought the issue is; keep your fingers crossed for them.

I learned a lot from this book.  I now know what Goethe's Plant is.  I also now know a lot about Aloes that I did not previously know about their supposed powers that are not around skin care etc.  I also recently bought a Devil's Ivy and after reading the care guide swiftly moved it closer to the window.
The illustrations by Helen Entwisle are superb.  I love the style of them and they depict the plants beautifully.

This is an excellent book and I cannot recommend it enough.

Legends of the Leaf by Jane Perrone is published by Unbound

The Garden Aviary by Gail Harland
I was asked to review this book and I did pause momentarily before saying yes as I have to admit, I am not keen on caged birds/animals.  I am also not very keen on being too close to birds (they are a bit flappy) but I do love birds and encourage them into my garden.  So this might not seem a natural fit for me in some ways, except I am fascinated by aviaries in parks and gardens.  They can be the most amazing structures and whilst I worry a bit for any birds in them; I love seeing the different types of birds there are.  I have never claimed to be consistent.....

First thing I did was to flip through the book to see if there were any aviaries in there that I had seen in real life.  I quickly found the aviary in The Arboretum in Nottingham and the ones at Birmingham Botanical Garden and the ones at Kenilworth Castle.  Then I settled down to read the book properly.

This is a fascinating book, Gail covers much more than I expected.  Gail starts by talking about why we love having birds as pets and also how we have used them such as the use of messenger pigeons and how birds have been depicted in art.  Birds have been collected, treasured, exhibited and displayed.  They can be a sign of wealth or a more down to earth sport like racing pigeons. 

Gail explains how aviaries have been used as attractions to encourage people in the early industrial era to use parks in their time off so that they get fresh air and exercise.  There is a chapter on how aviaries have been used as therapy, being based in hospitals and recuperative institutions.  There is also a discussion about how they have been used to breed and display rare species and that now they are often used to help conserve and return species back to the wild.  

There is so much in this book and I can happily recommend it.  

The Garden Aviary by Gail Harland is published by Amberley Publishing 

Take care and be kind

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