Monday, February 18, 2013

Kiss My Aster - A Book Review

Late last autumn, I was asked to preview and provide a brief opinion of Amanda Thomsen’s book, Kiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You just before its November 2012 release. The publisher (Storey Publishing, who also created my own books) wanted some quotes for the book jacket and promotional materials. Being a HUGE fan of Amanda already (she has a tattoo of a pair of flaming Felco pruners for goodness sakes! Who wouldn’t worship her?), I was thrilled to get a sneak peek at her book and here is the (not-so-brief) blurb I originally provided to Storey:

Amanda Thomsen is a quirky, badass landscape genius! This is the first time I've read a garden book (or heck, any book for that matter!) that required me to use 'jazz hands'. And I liked it. Kiss My Aster is cavity-inducing eye-candy, but it's also packed with solid information that covers all aspects of crafting a stylish, yet sustainable landscape. The choose-your-own-adventure form is easy to follow and allows the would-be gardener to change direction when new inspiration strikes or a project seem overwhelming ("call a guy!"). Thanks to Amanda, I'm no longer ashamed of my love for garden gnomes and my new landscape goals include sculpting a life-sized topiary of Mr. T from boxwood. If I plant it near the veggie garden, will it keep the deer away? ("I pity the deer that tries to eat my pole beans!") . Kiss My Aster is THE new bible for anyone who wants to learn, laugh and landscape.
So much information, so much fun!
Since then, I’ve read it cover to cover - twice - and my opinion hasn’t changed a bit. In fact, it’s become my go-to gift - especially for friends who are buying a new house and are in desperate need some solid advice. Amanda delivers and then some! Her humourous approach will have you laughing and landscaping, quickly taking an overgrown or non-existent yard from frumpy to fabulous.
The best part is that Amanda, who, if you’re the kind of person that wants some credentials, is a Master Gardener and landscape designer, gives gardeners - especially novice gardeners - the inspiration, information and permission to go ‘off the grid’ and create a landscape that reflects their own needs and wants. You don’t have to have that horrific juniper foundation planting. You don’t need to have a dozen shrubs scattered in the front yard each circled by a tidy ring of mulch. She helps you define your aforementioned ‘needs and wants’ and then shows you how to achieve them. Want a hedge? Check! Want to pick the best evergreens for your yard? Check! Want to improve your desert-sandy soil? Check! Want to grow a vine to cover the side of your house? Check! Want to take a break and colour in a gnome? Check! 
“Your landscaping is just as much an expression of your style as your rugs, curtains, or ‘Hello Kitty’ waffle iron are.” Amanda Thomsen
Garden fashion!
In conclusion, Amanda rocks. And if you want to connect with her, check out her incredible book (just $19.95 Canadian - cheaper online at amazon and chapters!) and/or find her online at, on Facebook at Kiss My Aster! and on Twitter at @kissmyaster. 

Some of my favourite fellow bloggers are also reviewing Kiss My Aster this week.. check out their take on this choose-your-own-adventure-style landscaping book here:

Austin Garden Design - J Peterson Garden Design
Cowlick Cottage Farm
Gardener to Farmer
Red Dirt Ramblings
Kiss My Aster
The Dandelion Wrangler
Gossip In The Garden

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