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Gardenhome/city: Creating an Urban Haven

Gardenhome/city: Creating an Urban Haven
Bonnie Trust Dahan
Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 

cloth, 120 p., ISBN 0-811-83247-3, $27.50.

This book is mistitled, for the title leads you to believe that the focus is on gardening in the city. The subtitle is more accurate, since the book is really about interiors in the urban environment, not gardens on tiny lots or even container gardening. The author, Bonnie Trust Dahan, and the photographer, Shaun Sullivan, provide their perspective on eclectic urban interiors, which on occasion have flowers or plants as accessories to an overall decorating scheme.

In fact, many of the floral displays are simply table arrangements, unusual and tasteful, but not truly garden spaces. This seems to be the message of the book: You don't necessarily need to have a garden to enjoy the benefits of plants. Even the section "Inside/Outside," which illustrates clever uses of very small spaces in which to display plants, seems to focus on furniture, not plant arrangements.

Despite the misleading title, I enjoyed this book for its descriptions of unusual containers and interesting placements of plants. Who would have thought of using inverted metal graters hung on a kitchen wall as plant containers? Information in the section "Healing Houseplants" also gave me new information about plants that purify the air and improve ventilation. I'm installing some succulents in my home office, since the author notes that "cacti and succulents minimize the negative effects of computer-generated ozone."

If you're not expecting a book that details how to build a small garden in a limited urban lot, this book will not disappoint. In fact, Gardenhome/city will give you some creative new ideas on integrating plants into an urban interior.

— Joan Richards, Volunteer, Library, Chicago Botanic Garden