2017 titles announced for Book Discussion Group

IMA Horticultural Society Book Discussion Group

You do not have to be a member of the museum or the horticultural society to participate. Discussion Group meets at the IMA Cafe, in the IMA main museum building, at 11 a.m., Friday on the dates indicated. All Discussion books are available in the Horticultural Society Library, and may be borrowed by Hort Soc members. Library hours are Thursdays, 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm, September through May, and all other times by appointment. (317) 923-1331 x 429 and leave a message.  For more information, please contact Discussion Leader Oren Cooley, pastpfct@aol.com

2017 Schedule:

March 10: Planting in a Post-Wild World: history of royal botanic garden kewDesigning Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West

May 12: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (2007) by Ray Desmond

August 11: The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt, A Lifetime of Exploration, and the Triumph of American Natural History (2016) by Darrin Lunde

November 17:  Botany of Desire:  A Plant’s-Eye View of the World(2002) by Michael Pollan



IMA Horticultural Society Book Group

2017 Selected Titles/Meeting Dates




Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West

Over time, with industrialization and urban sprawl, we have driven nature out of our neighborhoods and cities. But we can invite it back by designing landscapes that look and function more like they do in the wild: robust, diverse, and visually harmonious. Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West is an inspiring call to action dedicated to the idea of a new nature—a hybrid of both the wild and the cultivated—that can flourish in our cities and suburbs. This is both a post-wild manifesto and practical guide that describes how to incorporate and layer plants into plant communities to create an environment that is reflective of natural systems and thrives within our built world.

The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (2007) by Ray Desmond

This is the definitive history of the world’s greatest botanic garden. Comprehensively revised, this stunning, richly illustrated reference takes in every aspect of Kew’s history over two centuries – from its origin, pivotal roles in collecting, classifying and identifying the world’s plants, the commercial crops it gave to the British Empire, to being a world renowned institution at the cutting edge of plant science. Kew’s heritage – the herbarium, art and architecture, from Kew Palace and Burton’s Great Palm House to the Princess of Wales Conservatory, state-of-the-art laboratories and new Davies Alpine House – is illustrated and described, together with the events leading to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2003. Lastly, it is a social history of the gardens and of the scientists, architects, designers and gardeners who have made Kew.

The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt, A Lifetime of Exploration, and the Triumph of American Natural History (2016) by Darrin Lunde

A captivating new account of how Theodore Roosevelt’s lifelong passion for the natural world set the stage for America’s wildlife conservation movement and determined his legacy as a founding father of today’s museum naturalism. No U.S. president is more popularly associated with nature and wildlife than is Theodore Roosevelt—prodigious hunter, tireless adventurer, and ardent conservationist. We think of him as a larger-than-life original, yet in The Naturalist, Darrin Lunde has firmly situated Roosevelt’s indomitable curiosity about the natural world in the tradition of museum naturalism. As a child, Roosevelt actively modeled himself on the men (including John James Audubon and Spencer F. Baird) who pioneered this key branch of biology by developing a taxonomy of the natural world—basing their work on the experiential study of nature. The impact that these scientists and their trailblazing methods had on Roosevelt shaped not only his audacious personality but his entire career, informing his work as a statesman and ultimately affecting generations of Americans’ relationship to this country’s wilderness. Drawing on Roosevelt’s diaries and travel journals as well as Lunde’s own role as a leading figure in museum naturalism today, The Naturalist reads Roosevelt through the lens of his love for nature. From his teenage collections of birds and small mammals to his time at Harvard and political rise, Roosevelt’s fascination with wildlife and exploration culminated in his triumphant expedition to Africa, a trip which he himself considered to be the apex of his varied life. With narrative verve, Lunde brings his singular experience to bear on our 26th president’s life and constructs a perceptively researched and insightful history that tracks Roosevelt’s maturation from exuberant boyhood hunter to vital champion of serious scientific inquiry.

Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2002) by Michael Pollan

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings.

2016 Schedule:

Orchid Thief book

Friday, March 11:  The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession, by  Susan Orleans



Gertrude Jekyll bookFriday, May 13:       Gertrude  Jekyll                     by Sally Festing




Flowers How bookFriday, August 12: Flowers: How They Changed the World,   by William Burger



Tomorow's Garden book

Friday, December 2: Tomorrow’s Garden: Design and Inspiration for a New Age of Sustainable Gardening, by Stephen Orr



Book Discussion Group Basics:

  • The group meets quarterly in the Café in the main IMA building.
  • The discussion books will be chosen by consensus, usually in late summer.
  • The books chosen will be related to horticulture—to include nonfiction, biography, history, and possibly fictional works about gardening, landscape architect, plants, etc.
  • There will be a designated discussion leader to enhance each session
  • Books in the HortSoc library that are related to the discussion book will be brought to the attention of the group
  • The sessions be open to members and the public

Past Discussion Books:

2015 books:

  • Mar. 13, 2015  André le Nôtre: Gardener to the Sun King, by Eric Orsenna  and The World of André le Nôtre, by Thierry Mariage.
  • May 8, 2015  The Not So Little Book of Dung, by Caroline Holmes
  • Aug. 14, 2015   Sissinghurst, An Unfinished History: The Quest to Restore a Working Farm at Vita Sackville-West’s Legendary Garden, by Adam Nicolson
  • Dec.  4, 2015       What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses, by Daniel Chamovitz

2014 books:

  • March 14: Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, by Justin Martin
  • May 9: The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire, by Joe Jackson
  • Aug. 15: The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest, by Jack Nisbet
  • Dec. 5: One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place, by Susan Haltom and Jane Roy Brown

2013 books: 

  • March 15: The Founding Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf
  • May 24:: Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers, by Amy Stewart.
  • Aug 16: American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us about Who We Are, by Wade Graham.
  •  Dec 6: Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters, edited by Emily Herring Wilson.

2012 books: 

  • May 25: The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession, by Andrea Wulf
  • Aug 17: British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter, by Fa-ti Fan 
  • Aug 17: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History, by Sarah Rose
  • Aug 17: Plant Hunting in China: A History of Botanical Exploration in China and the Tibetan Marches, by E. H. M. Cox and Peter Cox
  • Dec 7: Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History, by Bill Law