Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Book Reviews

Reviews of recommended books by Miller Library staff and volunteers.


Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming by Liz Carlisle, 2022

Reviewed by: Priscilla Grundy on January 25, 2023
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Most readers know that America’s long history of racial discrimination has severely limited land ownership by people of color. In Healing Grounds Liz Carlisle shows how farming practices among four oppressed groups – Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian Americans – have historically maintained and improved the land these people have been able to occupy, and…


The New Gardener’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful & Bountiful Garden by Daryl Beyers, 2020

Reviewed by: Diane Nuckles on December 30, 2022
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The subtitle of this book is “Everything You Need to Know” and it definitely is that. It is the best book I’ve read, for both beginners and experienced gardeners alike. Beyers has lots of useful information, very clearly stated with photos and drawings to illustrate. For the ecology-minded, he tends toward natural and organic methods,…


Chasing Plants: Journeys with a Botanist through Rainforests, Swamps, and Mountains by Chris Thorogood, 2022

Reviewed by: Priscilla Grundy on December 28, 2022
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“Just imagine it: your parents on their hands and knees groping at a swarm of crickets unleashed from an upturned box; your teenage sister screaming at toads spawning in the bath; squirting cucumbers launching a raid of missiles down the stairs; and the gut-wrenching stench of a freshly unfurled dragon arum wafting through the front…


Becoming a Gardener by Catie Marron, 2022

Reviewed by: Priscilla Grundy on November 23, 2022
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First off, this book is a feast for the eyes. Big glossy photographs of Marron’s garden are combined with charming gouaches from the Copenhagen collective studio All the Way to Paris, plus an array of painting reproductions ranging from Beatrix Potter to Cy Twombly. The visual experience is rich. Marron, with a background of success…


Saunders’ Field Guide to Gladioli of South Africa by Rod and Rachel Saunders, 2021

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson on October 19, 2022
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The stiff spikes of gladioli are a mainstay for florists and favored by home gardeners for the hundreds of named cultivars in almost every color. Lesser known is the large genus of Gladiolus in the Iridaceae family with about 300 species, thriving in a wide range of environmental settings. While there are a handful of…


Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids by Jeremy Spath, 2021

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson on
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When I visit desert gardens in conservatories, or in captivating places such as the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, I’m always drawn to the agaves. My favorite is Agave victoriae-reginae, a native of the Chihuahua Desert of Mexico that enchanted me the first time I visited my parents when they lived in Arizona. The precise…


Swamplands: Tundra Beavers, Quaking Bogs, and the Improbable World of Peat by Edward Struzik, 2021

Reviewed by: Priscilla Grundy on September 21, 2022
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This very well written book, brimming with lively anecdotes and clearly explained information, has a somewhat misleading title. The subtitle finally reveals the main focus: “The Improbable World of Peat.” Each chapter recounts a visit Struzik took to a different peatland. His descriptions of nature are winsome. His background histories are equally appealing. The chapter…


Plants on the Move by Émilie Vast, 2021

Reviewed by: Rebecca Alexander on September 14, 2022
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With its stylized but clearly recognizable illustrations, Plants on the Move introduces readers of all ages to the various ways plants travel and multiply. It is divided into sections by type of movement: plants that creep or explode of their own accord, and those that move with the aid of wind, water, or the help…


Stories from the Leopold Shack: Sand County Revisited by Estella B. Leopold, 2016

Reviewed by: Priscilla Grundy on August 17, 2022
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Even if you have never read A Sand County Almanac by the famous conservationist Aldo Leopold, you will enjoy and learn from this memoir by his youngest child. In the first half of the book, Estella Leopold recounts the family acquisition of Wisconsin farmland, long abandoned, and the remodeling of a decaying barn on the site, so…


The Crevice Garden: How To Make The Perfect Home For Plants From Rocky Places by Kenton Seth, 2022

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson on August 9, 2022
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In May 2022, I visited the Denver Botanic Gardens.  After I tore myself away from the array of tall bearded iris at the peak of bloom, I found nearby different renditions of the traditional rock garden.  The rocks were not the smooth, roundish boulders but instead craggy slates, positioned vertically and close together, with only…



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