Earth Week with Amy Stewart’s Books

Amy-Stewart1.jpgFor Earth Week, we’re getting down and dirty with Amy Stewart’s wonderful books about what grows and crawls, creeps and blooms in the world around us — which is alternately not as benign nor as quite as horrifying as you think.

From the Ground UpFrom the Ground Up: Amy Stewart had a simple dream. She yearned for a garden filled with colorful jumbles of vegetables and flowers. After she and her husband finished graduate school, they pulled up their Texas roots and headed west to Santa Cruz, California. With little money in their pockets, they rented a modest seaside bungalow with a small backyard. It wasn’t much–a twelve-hundred-square-foot patch of land with a couple of fruit trees, and a lot of dirt. A good place to start

From the Ground Up is Stewart’s quirky, humorous chronicle of the blossoms and weeds in her first garden and the lessons she’s learned the hard way. From planting seeds her great-grandmother sends to battling snails, gophers, and aphids, Stewart takes us on a tour of four seasons in her coastal garden. Confessing her sins and delighting in small triumphs, she dishes the dirt for both the novice and the experienced gardener. Along the way, she brings her quintessential California beach town to life–complete with harbor seals, monarch butterfly migrations, and an old-fashioned seaside amusement park just down the street

Each chapter includes helpful tips alongside the engaging story of a young woman’s determination to create a garden in which the plants struggle to live up to the gardener’s vision.

Stewart_DrunkenBotanist_jkt_rgb_web_HRThe Drunken Botanist: Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley, tequila from agave, rum from sugarcane, bourbon from corn. Thirsty yet?  In The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries.

Of all the extraordinary and obscure plants that have been fermented and distilled, a few are dangerous, some are downright bizarre, and one is as ancient as dinosaurs—but each represents a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history.

This fascinating concoction of biology, chemistry, history, etymology, and mixology—with more than fifty drink recipes and growing tips for gardeners—will make you the most popular guest at any cocktail party.

Stewart_EarthMoved_pbk_jkt_rgb_web_HRThe Earth Moved: In The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart takes us on a journey through the underground world and introduces us to one of its most amazing denizens. The earthworm may be small, spineless, and blind, but its impact on the ecosystem is profound. It ploughs the soil, fights plant diseases, cleans up pollution, and turns ordinary dirt into fertile land. Who knew?

In her witty, offbeat style, Stewart shows that much depends on the actions of the lowly worm. Charles Darwin devoted his last years to the meticulous study of these creatures, praising their remarkable abilities. With the august scientist as her inspiration, Stewart investigates the worm’s subterranean realm, talks to oligochaetologists—the unsung heroes of earthworm science—who have devoted their lives to unearthing the complex life beneath our feet, and observes the thousands of worms in her own garden. From the legendary giant Australian worm that stretches to ten feet in length to the modest nightcrawler that wormed its way into the heart of Darwin’s last book to the energetic red wigglers in Stewart’s compost bin, The Earth Moved gives worms their due and exposes their hidden and extraordinary universe. This book is for all of us who appreciate Mother Nature’s creatures, no matter how humble.

Stewart_WickedBugs_jkt_rgb_web_HRWicked Bugs: In this darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the natural world, Stewart has tracked down over one hundred of our worst entomological foes—creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world’s most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop traffic, to the“bookworms” that devour libraries, to the Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of six- and eight-legged creatures.

With wit, style, and exacting research, Stewart has uncovered the most terrifying and titillating stories of bugs gone wild. It’s an A to Z of insect enemies, interspersed with sections that explore bugs with kinky sex lives (“She’s Just Not That Into You”), creatures lurking in the cupboard(“Fear No Weevil”), insects eating your tomatoes (“Gardener’s Dirty Dozen”), and phobias that feed our (sometimes) irrational responses to bugs (“Have No Fear”).Intricate and strangely beautiful etchings and drawings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs capture diabolical bugs of all shapes and sizes in this mixture of history, science, murder, and intrigue that begins—but doesn’t end—in your own backyard.

Stewart_WickedPlants_jkt_rgb_web_HRWicked Plants: A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war.

In Wicked Plants, Amy Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother). Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard.

Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

The Wicked Plants Coloring Book: In this delightfully devilish coloring book, Briony Morrow-Cribbs exquisite etchings from Wicked Plants are now finely rendered coloring-book art and are paired with details from the original book. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend—and written with Stewart’s trademark wit—each wonderfully creepy spread offers a fascinating portrait of the evildoers of the plant world, from the vine that ate the South (kudzu) to the weed that killed Lincoln’s mother (white snakeroot), to the world’s deadliest seed (rosary pea).

 

 

 

Flower Confidential: Award-winning author Amy Stewart takes readers on an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought—for better or worse—to achieve perfection. She tracks down the hybridizers, geneticists, farmers, and florists working to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature can provide.

There’s a scientist intent on developing the first genetically modified blue rose; an eccentric horitcultural legend who created the most popular lily; a breeder of gerberas of every color imaginable; and an Ecuadorean farmer growing exquisite roses, the floral equivalent of a Tiffany diamond. And, at every turn she discovers the startling intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce.

Post A Comment:

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