Kiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You, Amanda Thomsen, Storey Publishing (December 18, 2012); 160pp, softcover; publisher's price: $16.95, Amazon price: $13.02.
I took Kiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You by Amanda Thomsen as my "airport book" on a recent trip, and everyone who saw it asked me if it was a children's book. Um, no, not unless your child has just bought a house, and is wondering what the heck to do with the yard. In that case, Kiss My Aster is a great first book towards getting that question answered.
Don't let the whimsical illustrations and hand-lettered text fool you. Kiss My Aster is full of sensible landscape advice that will keep someone new to gardening from making expensive mistakes or merely wasting a lot of time and effort. It doesn't go into depth on any topic but gives the reader enough of an overview to know whether or not it is a project he or she wishes to undertake, and where to go for more information. And if you couldn't figure it out from the title, it is handing out liberal doses of smart-aleck humor as it does so.
The book's organization is rather eccentric, modeled on the Choose Your Own Adventure books the author read as a child. (I prefer to think of it having a built-in decision tree.) The table of contents is organized by topic, and at the bottom of each page in that topic are suggestions for what page to read next. Being a linear type of person, I just read it straight through. That works, too.
Since it is a book clearly aimed at youngish adults embarking on their first forays into gardening, I can't imagine many rock gardeners having a need to add it to their personal libraries. But you just may know a youngish adult buying their first home, and this would make a perfect housewarming gift, with perhaps a gift card from the local garden center tucked inside.
Kathy Purdy is newsletter editor for the Adirondack Chapter of NARGS.