Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Seeing Seeds: A Book Giveaway


Isn't this a gorgeous book cover? 

It is just one of the amazing images in the new book Seeing Seed, A journey into the world of Seedheads, Pods & Fruit. 

Photographer Robert LLewellyn uses a unique technique known as image stacking to keep every part of his photographs in perfect focus. 

Each image begins with a series of photographs that are taken with a variety of focal points. Then all the photographs are merged and blended together with a special computer software program. The results are photographs with breathtaking clarity and detail. (You can see a great example of image stacking in Robert's photograph of a translucent Honesty seedpodLunaria annua by clicking the link).

All of the Seeing Seed's photographs are on a crisp white background giving them the look of masterful botanical illustrations. 

Meadow Rue seeds in my garden

Allium seeds from my garden


Seeing Seeds is a book you could easily read cover to cover. Certainly author Teri Dunn Chace presents the subject matter in a way that is light and entertaining, as well as informative. 

I think however, that this is a book you are more likely to turn to as a reference and end up finding yourself getting lost in its pages. 

Before you know it, you'll have expanded your knowledge about the way seeds work without feeling the weight of having learned anything. 

Poppy seeds

The book begins with an introductory series of short essays. Seeds vary greatly, yet there are underlying principles and patterns at work. The essays examine the structure and the diversity of forms seeds take, and what seeds do and how they do it. The introduction also examines the way in which seeds fit into the environment as a whole.

Teri Dunn Chace writes,"Everything plants do or can do, every fruit or pod or loose seed, is connected to us and to all living things. There is no autonomy; nothing is entirely solitary. To say we are co-evolutionary with seeds is to gaze at the edge of a mystery. A life force is embedded in everything, not just in seeds." *

* Pg 10. Seeing Seed, A journey into the world of Seedheads, Pods & Fruit by Robert Llewellyn and Teri Dunn Chace, Timber Press, 2015.


As I read on, I couldn't help but feel that seeds have more to teach us than simple botany.

They remind us that nature is intricately connected. Plants do not reproduce in isolation; flowers depend on bees and other insects for pollination, on the birds that eat ripe berries and fruit, on animals that carry seed in their fur and on the wind for dispersal.

Milkweed

The second half of the book highlights 100 representative seeds, fruits and pods. Here you will discover interesting stories and a treasure chest of curiosities.

For instance, did you know that Milkweed flowers have a tiny slits in their sides which will often catch the feet of insects that land to drink the nectar? 

Saddlebags of pollen held by tiny wire-like filaments will often attach themselves as the insect struggles to free itself. Inevitably some insects fail in their escape attempt and perish on the flower.


To make up for any short fall, Milkweed produces a great abundance of delicate, tan-colored seeds. 

Each seed has silky wings that allow them to drift and sail on the wind.



After you read this book, you may find yourself adding plants to your garden for a whole new reason; not for the flowers, but for the ornamental quality of their seeds.

The seeds above may be familiar to you, but have you seen the seeds of Iris domestica or the blackberry lily as it is commonly known? Like daylilies, the small speckled orange flowers of Iris domestica last for a single day. Then the green pods ripen and split to reveal handsome clusters of shiny black seeds that resemble blackberries.

High on my personal list of elegant seeds pods would be that of an old fashioned plant: Lunaria annua. Honesty, Silver Dollars or the Money plant, as it is variously known, forms translucent coin-shaped envelopes to house its seeds. If you tug gently on the small tail at the end of each ripe pod, the protective sides of envelope come away revealing fine brown seeds on a silvery interior shaped like a small coin. (You can see a translucent Silver Dollar here).

For years, my Mom gathered the seeds and used the translucent silver dollars to make dried arrangements she would keep all winter.

Seeds covered with frost in late fall.

I have always thought that seeds have a beauty which rivals that of flowers. This book is sure to convince you of it!


About the Book's Author & Photographer:

Robert Llewellyn has been photographing plants and landscapes for more than forty years. His work has appeared in more than thirty books and includes the books Seeing Flowers and Seeing Trees, which was chosen as one of the best gardening books of the year by The New York Times.
You can see examples of his work on his website: Robertllewellyn.com



Teri Dunn Chace is a writer and editor with more than thirty titles in publication including Seeing Flowers (Timber Press, 2014) and How to Eradicate Invasive Plants (Timber Press, 2013). Chace has gardened in a number of climate zones and with a number of soil types. She now lives in upstate New York. To learn more about the book's author, visit her website: terichacewriter.com


The Book at a Glance:
Book Authors: Robert Llewellyn and Teri Dunn Chace
Publisher: Timber Press
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 284 pp.
Images: 145 color photos

Thomas Allen & Sons has given me a review copy of the new book: Seeing Seed, A journey into the world of Seedheads, Pods & Fruit. I am going to give it away to one lucky reader.

Leave a comment if you would like to be included in the book draw. The draw will remain open for the next 7 days.

If you are not a blogger, you can enter to win on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page. 

Please, please make sure there is a way for me to track down your email address should your name be drawn. ( I still have a copy of Grow Gardeners for draw winner Bonnie Johnson because I have been unable to find an email address for her. Bonnie, if you're out there, please email me!)

27 comments:

  1. The cover is amazing--I've never heard of image stacking before. But your photos are just as stunning, Jennifer! I leave poppy and nigella seedheads standing for a while in the summer just because I think they're so cool-looking. As for the Blackberry lilies, I think I like the look of the seeds better than the blooms.

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  2. Sounds like such an interesting book. I think it's a book I need to own. I've used iris and daylily seed pods in flower arrangements. Jennifer, I enjoy your blog so much and have learned so much from it. I only wish you and your garden were closer! I love visiting the gardens you highlight.

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  3. Very interesting! How much we don't know yet! The images are outstanding - yours and those from the book.

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  4. What beautiful photos! I would love to page through this book :)

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  5. I have been collecting seeds all summer from my garden (and anywhere I can grab a few). I put the lids on them yesterday as they seemed dry. I buy old tins and pretty boxes when I see the price is right. They make great gifts. There is an old lady (that means someone a lot older then me at 66) who I give some to and each year we drive by to see how her garden is. She always proudly shows me what she has from my seeds.

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  6. I would love to be entered for this book. I just recently started collecting seeds from my garden. It is too expensive to buy individual plants for a large yard and so I am hoping for a great success next spring.

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  7. Beautiful post. Love the Allium seed photo!

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  8. Oh, that book cover is just gorgeous!
    I wonder what kind of software he uses for blending the image stacks, does the book say? Probably some hugely expensive one :-) I suppose you can do it manually with many photos on different layers and using layer masks – but that’s a lot of work!

    Your photos are beautiful as always, I love how you are using the late afternoon sun to illuminate everything to make the seeds come alive and add interest. I find seeds fascinating and I don’t use them enough, usually strictly deadheading to avoid being swamped in my tiny garden. But some plants are allowed to set seed and soon it’s time to harvest this year’s Lilium regale seeds. It’s a bumper year, I could probably grow more than 1000 plants for next year…..!

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    1. 1000 plants! That is really impressive Helene.
      The book describes the vaguely program as one that was " originally developed in Russia for use with microscopes". On the same page (11) they show Robert Llewellyn computer set up and it looks very impressive with two screens, a tablet and more.
      I am wondering if, as a short cut, you could stack the images perfectly (you would have to make the layer semi-opaque and really be exact) and then use the eraser tool to remove the sections on each layer you don't want. Then merge the layers. I must try it sometime, although it sounds too good to be that easy.

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    2. Eh, well I said I COULD probably grow more than 1000 plants – not that I WOULD!
      I will try to give away some Lilium regale seeds as they are so easy to propagate, and the lilies are so easy to take care of once established plants, but it takes 4-6 years to grow a decent bulb so you have to be a bit patient :-)
      I usually throw away most of the lily seeds as I don’t have enough people to give them too, unfortunately it’s not legal to send abroad, only within UK.

      You could use the eraser tool, but I would prefer a layer mask on each layer as with a layer mask you can always add back again if it doesn’t look right, with the eraser tool you have removed something permanently. You have spurred me on to try this myself now – just need the right object for it, good light and the tripod set up :-)

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    3. You are right about the eraser tool, although if you were desperate, you could try to get something back using history. I haven't used masks all that often, so I am not super confident with them. It is something I should work on. If you do any experiments let me know how it goes. I would love to see what you create.

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    4. Will let you know - I am being admitted to hospital tomorrow morning for a few days and when I come home I don’t think Photoshop will be the first thing I grab for, but I will certainly have a go at this. I use layer masks all the time, couldn’t really do without them, very useful tool. My header photo is made from 2 photos merged using layer mask.

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  9. Oh I'd love this book!! Thanks for the chance to win. I didn't get any opium poppies this year and yet I had loads of them last year. First time ever they didn't come back from seed. Boo!!

    Thanks for all the lovely inspiration.

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  10. What a beautiful cover!
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy!

    Collecting seeds feels like such a pleasantly provident thing to do, and at the end of the season, you end up with a little treasure trove of envelopes of potentiality. And when you garden with an eye for the beauty of the seeds as well as the foliage and flowers, it adds yet another dimension of enjoyment to the hobby.

    (I love your photos of the poppies!)

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  11. Beautiful seeds & seed pods are some of my favorite reasons to garden. I'm a messy gardener because I love to let everything go to see.

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  12. This looks like a beautiful book, and I love your description of learning without "feeling the weight" of it! Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

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  13. Would love to win a copy of this book. Curious to discover why plants I normally have grown from bulbs have seed pods.

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  14. I have always been fascinated by seeds, and the fact that something soooo very tiny can produce something amazing, and beautiful. Magical I say. This looks like a book I will have to add to my library no matter. Thanks for the heads up!

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  15. A very interesting book cover indeed. So much eye candy! As a gardener and artist, I would love to be the winner of this book.

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  16. I would like to win this book. It's fabulous.

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  17. Oooohh!! I love a treasure chest of curiosities! Looks like a very cool book. Well written post. :o)

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  18. I have been trying my hand at starting plants by seed this year. Very timely. Looks like an interesting read with fabulous photography.

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  19. Seeds are wonderful ... so are your photo's.

    All the best Jan

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    1. I love collecting seeds. I feel like I'm getting something for nothing, which always feels good. I too use seed heads in flower arrangements and think they are often as pretty as the flowers. I would love a copy of this book. Thanks for the opportunity.

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  20. Oh, the pics of seeds in this book are simply stunning! I loved yours too! I would love to be in the draw...not sure if it's open to the UK though.xxx

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    1. If someone from the UK wins, I'll order a copy through Amazon. I find that makes the shipping affordable.

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  21. Would love a copy of this book and I adore seeds. My original blog name was Seed Collector but I changed it to Amateur Bot-ann-ist. As I write this there are even seeds to sort right here in front of me.

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