Friday, April 20, 2012

The Untamed Garden: Book Review and Giveaway


The Untamed Garden is a book that was inspired by a summer squash. 

The sexy, rounded bottom of a butternut squash, seen squeezing provocatively through the boards of a wooden fence in an alleyway in downtown Toronto, became the subject of a newspaper column, and then the germ of an idea for the book. (see the naughty butternut squash here.)


The moment you pick up The Untamed Garden, you know you are in for a treat. The book is small; intimate in your hands. 

The title is handwritten in pen and ink in broad, looping strokes. Peeking out from under the plain brown wrapper is a hint of the scene of a sumptuous feast, with Greek or possibly Roman figures seen cavorting among a sea of rose petals. 

The book binding is hot pink!


In this, her seventh book, master gardener Sonia Day takes an intimate look at our love affair with plants using a mix of myth, botany and plant lore.

The book unfolds in a series of thematic chapters that journey from "Innocence" and "Anticipation" to "Seduction" and "Rapture". Marking each chapter is a lovely illustration opposite a full page of some juicy color.


The author writes, "The truth is, the plant world is drenched in sex. Passionate, urgent, unabashed sex. Buds swell suggestively. Phallic stalks thrust skyward."

Peppered throughout are entertaining antidotes, love potions, and samplings of Victorian ideas on the "language of flowers".


One of my favourite parts of the books is the introduction, possibly because it is here that author is the most personal. 

Sonya is 19 in these early pages of the book. The occasion is the unfolding of her father's night-blooming cereus, an exotic and beautiful plant that flowers once a year and for only a few short hours at night. 

The scene is set beautifully, "It's a humid night in the tropics. The air is heavy and sweet like honey. The only sound, apart from the cicadas' high-pitched whine, is the clink-clink of the ice cubes as we sit in the patio, sipping rum and coke....And waiting."

 Sonia writes, "Subliminally or not, I think that my father's passion for his cereus made me want to become a gardener myself."


Another thing that I particularly liked about the book is the authors wit, humour and clever turn of phrase. 

Of peonies she writes, "...with their blowsy D-cup blooms strutting atop those precarious chicken-leg stems they are (to modern eyes at least) the Dolly Partons of the garden. Like the country singer, they can come across as a tad vulgar and over the top, yet that's the secret of their indefatigable charm too..."

She continues, "Those thin stems never seem to be able to prop up those too-weighty blooms for very long...and the mess they leave behind can severely test your patience. Yet despite this defect, you will rarely meet anyone who dislikes peonies. On the contrary. To most gardeners, they are heaven sent objects of adoration."

What can I say? Read the book. I promise that you will never look at plants the same way again!


I have contacted McClelland & Stewart, the book's publisher and they have generously provided me with a copy of the book The Untamed Garden A Revealing Look at our Love Affair with Plants to give away to one lucky reader.

If you would like to be included in the draw for a copy of the book, please leave a comment below. If are too shy or perhaps unfamilar with leaving a comment, but would still like to be included, please feel free to drop me a line by email and I will be glad to include your name in the draw. 

The winner will be drawn this coming Monday at 10 pm (my time). Look for an announcement of the winner early in the week. Many thanks to McClelland and Stewart for providing a book for this giveaway. 

Good luck everyone and have a great weekend!


More Information and Links:


I am linking this post to Holley Garden's monthly book review club. To see a roundup and review of some other fabulous gardening books, be sure to click the link: Roses and Other Gardening Joys.

About the Author of The Untamed Garden:


Sonia Day is a well-known writer and garden columnist for the Toronto Star newspaper. The Untamed Garden is Sonia Day's 7th book. 


Sonia  lives on 48 acres in rural Ontario where she maintains a huge garden and considers growing big fat globe artichokes to be her greatest gardening achievement. Her homegrown garlic is also apparently in high demand and gets her invited to a lot of dinner parties. Favourite flowers: Poppies, Peonies and Pinstripe Petunias. 


Watch a short video on Sonia's country garden here: Sonia Day's Garden


For a list of book signings and appearance dates click here.

Images in this Post: With the exception of the author's photo and the book cover the images are my own. Image 1: Rose from a private garden in Brampton, ON. Image 2: Tree Peony, Humber Nursery, Brampton Image 3. Close up of a amaryllis. Image 4: Amaryllis Image 5: Tree Peony, Humber Nursery, Brampton 

42 comments:

  1. I nominated your blog for The Versatile Blogger award. Here's some information: http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/

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  2. I would love to read Sonia Day's new book ! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

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  3. My PhD project is on sex determination of mammals. It has nothing on the act of 'sex' but people tend to think differently, although it is purely a genetic study. Its really hard for me to say what my actual PhD project is, so usually I will say I am studying animal biology. It looks like a book that I will really like to read.

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    1. Malay-Kadazan girl. The subject of your PhD thesis sounds fascinating.

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  4. Your post makes this book sound absolutely wonderful with your words and photos. I doubt I am eligible over here in Europe but if I am am I would love the chance to read this

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    1. LindyLouMac, Everyone is included. I would probably have to send the book through the post by surface to make it affordable should someone overseas win the draw.

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  5. Amaaaaazing (I´m shouting) flowers, so beautiful (the texture looks great too)! :-)

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  6. A fantastic book I would buy if it was sold in my country. The photografy is stunning.
    gr. Marijke

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  7. This book sounds a treat. I was reading recently about the Victorian language of flowers, I found it quite fascinating.

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  8. This book sounds so.....sexy! Like a Georgia O'Keeffe painting put into language. I could definitely see me reading this book on a hot sultry day, outdoors where the wind tickles my skin, drinking a pink lemonade to cool me off! Just from your illustration, from now on when I see a peony, I will think of Dolly Parton! I'll definitely be reading this book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, and thank for joining in. A great giveaway, too!

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  9. I'm reading it right now and loving it. Don't enter me in the contest as I have my own copy. But wanted to share with you how much I'm enjoying this lovely book. A glass of wine and a nice Muskoka chair top off the experience.

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  10. Jennifer I would love to read this book too !
    One of the first books I read as a teenager that emphasized plants and their influence on our senses was called the Moon Flower Vine, by Jetta Carleton .. a story about sisters going back home in the country .. it was wonderful how an event centered around the opening of those amazing white flowers and their wonderful scent. To this day I can NOT grow them to that point .. makes me crazy .. but I love reading about them ! LOL
    Joy

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  11. This sounds like an excellent book to add to my gardening library. I like her approach and her understanding of the garden. You have included some beautiful photos with this post!

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  12. Sounds very intriguing! At a symposium two years ago one of the speakers talked about all the sex going on with the ferns in the garden. It was funny but true! You photos are amazing! I love the crisp details of the last one!

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  13. It really does look like a beautiful book. Here gardening philosophy and those humorous descriptions would make for reading fun. Love, love love your images.

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  14. Your last photo is superb, so beautiful done!

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  15. Looks like a wonderful book!
    Your garden looks like paradise...wow!
    I love that little baby bunny shot, but I'm sorry it got into your vegetable garden. Stay warm up there in Canada.
    David/:0)

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  16. It looks like a fun book and I like her style! (I took a look at your garden photos and I must say, I have serious peony envy! I just can't grow them in my climate, Your flowers are beautiful!)

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  17. I would love to win a copy of this book! Looks like such a lovely read, and the binding is divine!

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  18. Sounds like a very interesting book, and I would love to own it.

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  19. This seems like a great gift for Mother's Day! I can think of two ladies I would like to give it to - hope my local book store will get it in. AMazon is great in a pinch but we must support our local independent book stores!)

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  20. What a fantastic find. I'll be sure to purchase this.

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  21. That looks like a wonderful book. Would love to win it because I don't think I can find it here in Holland.
    Good luck with the draw.
    Riet

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  22. I want that book!!! What a great find! About macro vs non-macro photography: your blog and photography are so exquisite that I'm a drooling fool over every shot. You are a true talent. Your shots are the finished canvas, mine are the messy studio. They remind me of the beautiful artwork found in expensive home boutiques. With shots like yours, we don't need the whole shrub. :o)

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  23. That does sound like a fascinating read. I'd love to be entered in your draw. Thank you!

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    1. I meant to add that the photos in this post are breathtaking.

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  24. Perfect photos to accompany the book! Don't enter me as I "understand" the book is coming my way already as a gift. :)

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  25. It sounds like a wonderful book jennifer, and your images are absolutely gorgeous!

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  26. Just the kind of book I crave. Having packed my own favourites away ready for a move, I've been relying on our local library. I had no idea there were so many boring garden books in circulation. Perhaps successful gardeners are not all destined to be great writers. When the two skills do come together I know it from the first sentence because my toes start to tingle.

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  27. Oh my! I just love these photographs. I must look for this book.

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  28. I can't believe how enticing this book sounds! You written this in such an intriguing way! I would love to have this added to my library! The pictures are beautiful, and so soft looking! Pink is my favorite color too!
    Good luck to everyone in this giveaway!

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  29. What a treat this book would be to read on a lazy day, after a few hours work in the garden. I can picture myself in a wicker chair, cold drink at hand and book in my lap. I wonder if I could truly make it happen???
    It occurs to me that this book would be the most wonderful mothers' day gift - so I'm off to see if I can find it online.

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  30. Sounds like a wonderful book. Great giveaway!

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  31. This sounds like a wonderful book--I love her vivid description and clever images. I'll be looking at peonies this spring in a whole new way:)

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  32. The photo of the naughty butternut squash cracked me up! The book sounds wonderful. I'm not sure what time it is your time; I may have missed the cut-off, but if not, put me in for the drawing. I enjoyed all of the photos!

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  33. Peonies with their D-cups ~ that's something I won't be getting out of my head! Sounds intriguing ~ lucky you to review it too.

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  34. Looks to be a very interesting book!

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  35. Thanks everyone. I will post the winner on Wednesday.

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