Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beautifully Useful

My favorite reference books are both practical and attractive. Whether it's a guide book, a manual or a monograph, I can find what I need quickly and then enjoy the scenery and side trips if I have the time. It's all about good informational design and The Perennial Care Manual has it in spades.

My first copy just arrived from Storey and it's outstanding (and not just because I did the photography.) The cover is both elegant and contemporary and the inside pages are beautifully organized and presented. Nan's words are clear and concise with just a touch of neighborly advice and flowery passion. She writes from years of trialling plants and testing techniques on her own handwoven perennial beds.

Expertly edited by Carleen Madigen and Gwen Steege who are two of the most efficient and kind-hearted book editors I've met. They know how to rework masses of words and images into graceful passages without roughing them up.

Physically, the paper is bright, the reproductions are sharp and the binding is flexible so it stays flat when opened -- a great feature when your hands are muddy and you need to reread an entry before you tackle a misbehaved perennial.