Teri Dunn Chace Seeing Seeds: A Journey into the World of Seedheads, Pods, and Fruit
Photographs by Robert Llewellyn,
Timber Press, Portland Oregon, 2015, 284pp, 145 color photographs
list price: $29.95 Amazon: $21.08
The introduction begins, “If you have ever been on a journey and returned a changed person, I invite you to sit down with this book.” I certainly could relate and was hooked already.
These words from author Terry Dunn Chase, accompany the jaw-dropping photos by collaborating photographer Robert Llewellyn. It is not their first book together (see also Seeing Flowers) nor their last, though Llewellyn has previously published several other books including Seeing Trees with writer Nancy Ross, a book that was reviewed for NARGS in 2013 here.
While all Llewellyn’s books gave been of similar format, offering stunning photographs, Seeing Seeds, was selected in 2016 by the American Horticultural Society as one of their choices for the five outstanding gardening books of the year. Check out the book for yourself and you will understand why.
If you are like me, you may not be able to resist thumbing through the photographs first; they are irresistible. Many of us have come to know seeds well because we grow plants from seed, collect seed, participate in the various phases of the NARGS seed exchange, or perhaps are involved in all three.
You will be entranced at the intimacy of these photographs. There is much to be gained by viewing seeds through the magnified lens of the camera and the eye of an artist. Llewellyn has developed a technique called image stacking, a “stitching together”, as Chase describes it, using photographs shot from various angles. The result is not dissimilar to illustration. You will simply have to see the results for yourself. The author has chosen to highlight 100 seeds, pods and fruit as representative of the thousands of species available in the botanical world. One can only speculate how these 100 were chosen, though it would be easy to be overwhelmed by the possibilities.
While it is easy to be distracted by Llewellyn’s photographs, be sure to go back and read the text. Chase’s writing is of equal merit. A self-taught “amateur” biologist (her words) and author of several gardening books, she knows her stuff. She explains complex science simply without bogging down in scientific jargon. I appreciate that. Even the most botanically literate among us will learn something, or at least learn something in a different way.
I virtually guarantee with this book you will view seeds in a whole new way, that is to say it offers you a new perspective. And isn’t that one of the reasons we read books? I urge you to buy this one!
Carol Eichler is a member of the Adirondack Chapter and its current newsletter editor. While growing alpines in troughs for years, she finally built her first rock garden (with lots of help from her husband) two seasons ago and is enjoying it immensely. She has gotten the bug for growing many of her garden plants from seed and participated this year for the first time as a seed donor.