Spring, The Botanical Treasury, and Savaging Books

Warning: this post contains an alarming amount of exclamation points and questions marks. Proceed at your own risk.

We started the second day of Spring with snow and, quite frankly, a shitty attitude.

Did you know snow in Farsi is pronounced barf?
Small bird dive bombs a cardinal. Chutzpah? Small brain? Territorial dispute?
Testy because it's snowing?
No lack of drama at our backyard feeders.

But not for long. Several hours later, sun! Blue sky! Melting snow!

Indoors the hyacinth is in glorious bloom. Life and light have returned. All is well.

Do you think the fragrance of hyacinth is overwhelming? I do but in a deliriously happy, vernal equinox way.  

Another happy attitude boost, the arrival of the recently published The Botanical Treasury. Curated by Christopher Mills, Head of Library, Art and Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

For the record, I purchased my copy from University of Chicago Press (link does NOT generate any revenue for me but please go purchase it anyway, it is that great).

This beautiful box holds a paperbound book and 40 gorgeous prints.

The book's cover proclaims, a celebration of "...40 of the World's Most Fascinating Plants through Historical Art and Manuscripts" and it does not disappoint. Beautifully written histories of fabled plants with exquisite illustrations, letters, and notes drawn from Kew's archives.

The book is a treasure for gardeners, certainly. The 40 prints are a gold mine, for all.

A charming detail of the Ginkgo Biloba print.

Which brings us to Part 3 of this post.

I'm not proud of it, and it is no secret that I have in the past dismembered a book or two in search of the right print. Prints.

My husband picked up this volume of Japanese haiku at a library de-accession event, for free.

I carefully took it apart and framed two of them. They are  more vivid in real life. 

OK, I admit, despite the two missing pages, A Chorus of Birds is a darn nice little book. Especially as I am more than enamored of Japanese art and how sweet of my husband to think of me.

But let's be serious. If this book sits on the shelf for the next 15 years, how many times will I open it?

Two? Three times, maybe? 

Isn't it put to better use as wall decor? Where it can be seen and enjoyed? 

Still think I'm a book disfiguring Philistine?

How about these six little Redoute botanicals?

Rather than savaging a volume, I like to think I gave a used $4.95 Thriftbooks find another life. And I gave my local framer some business. And dressed a naked wall.

I don't have a problem taking apart a book that has no value. In fact, I recommend it as an excellent value when looking for similar size prints.

Some of us think savaging a book, regardless that it has no real value, is blasphemy. 

I think some of us should get over it.
With great thanks to Kew, I will keep my copy of The Botanical Treasury intact and frame any or all of the 40 prints.

And I'm dying to know if you love or detest the fragrance of hyacinth!

Happy Spring!

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan


  1. Hyacinths - I love the scent. Would I find it as deliriously intoxicating in July as it is in March? Would it make me swoon in September? I don't think so. It is the perfect perfume, just when we need it most.
    Yes, I am guilty of taking a thrift shop book apart for a print. Better to save part of the book than see the whole thing headed for the tip.

    1. Kindred spirits! Love that term, tip! Thanks for visiting.

  2. Love this post and I just treated myself by buying some tulips from the grocer yesterday :)

    1. Tulips -- another very happy flower!

  3. Linda.. great post. I love botanicals and never thought to look for a book at used book sales. Love the Redoute botanicals on the wall. If my husband hung them, there would one off balance. I love the looks of Hyacinths - not sure about the smell. Hope you have a wonderful week.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Katie! Maybe just do one hyacinth, instead of half a dozen!

  4. Hate the smell of Hyacinth! Love using book images as art. Why not?

    1. Good to have another designer's endorsement!

  5. I think it's an excellent way to give a book new life. Also I love the look of book illustrations on a wall. My mother has a wall of Alice in Wonderful pages in a guest room.

    1. Yes, I remember that post with the Alice illustrations. Since then I've had my eye out for nice editions (already found one) and hope to emulate your Mom in a future project!

  6. Oh yes, Linda I have framed botanical from both a book, and a calendar that was from Smith and Hawken! Beautifully framed!!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. Glad to hear it! Thanks for visiting.


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