The Artist's MotherEvery month Lars Book Club contributor, Julie Richardson introduces a new book to us, and reviews the previous month’s book along with some discussion questions. For the month of April we read The Reason for Flowers. Take a look after the jump for her review! Feel free to leave your own comments about it!


Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and as this year’s book list was put together, I thought it’d be fun to read something this month that honors mothers, but in a unique way. So in all my searching and scouring of book lists and websites, I was excited to find May’s book, The Artist’s Mother: The Greatest Painters Pay Tribute to the Women Who Rocked Their Cradles, by Overlook Press, Introduction by Judith Thurman.  Maybe you’ll know some of these artists, or maybe not. But either way, it’s an interesting look at how each of them portrayed their mothers through prints, paintings, and drawings. Enjoy this look into their lives.

And to all you mothering figures out there – you are appreciated, loved, and irreplaceable, for “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” — William Ross Wallacequote about flowers Review of April’s book, The Reason for Flowers
Well, do you look at flowers differently now?? Is there anything Buchmann didn’t cover in The Reason for Flowers? I can’t begin to imagine the hours of research that he must have put into it. His bibliography is legit (aka extensive), no? Quite impressive. I’ve always liked flowers, but have really grown to love them since I moved to the Northwest. There are rose gardens, lilac gardens, tulip festivals galore…spring time truly feels like the Garden of Eden here! Also, on our honeymoon, my husband and I stayed in a small B&B on Cape Cod called The Wildflower Inn. Flowers were part of every dish, beverage, and dessert, and up until then I had no idea any flowers were edible! Did you? Here are some questions and ideas for you to think on:

1. In his opening preface, Buchmann states, “Flowers represent our past along with our hope for a bright future.” Would you agree?

2. How amazing that we can now have just about any plant we want shipped right to our door! Buchmann describes the many different pleasure gardens created by various cultures through the centuries, each with their distinct features and plants: Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, Japanese, Aztec, and Persian (to name a few). Which garden appeals to you most?

3. Learning about flower breeding and hybridization is fascinating. If gene modifiers are eventually successful, would you ethically agree with (and buy) the first blue rose? (see pages 144-46!)

4. Buchmann states on page 296, “A number of scientists believe that flowering plants have more control over us than we think. Just who has domesticated whom?” and in his closing statements on page 302, “Whether flowers or people are in control of this relationship is perhaps debatable. Nevertheless, by caring for them, we learn that flowers sustain and feed us, enriching our lives…Flowers and people need and depend upon one another for mutual survival.” After all you’ve now read about flowers, do you agree? Are they in charge, or are we?

Please feel free to share any thoughts or maybe the most interesting fact you learned while reading this book…for example, did you know floral perfumes have three “notes” or distinct levels of scent? that Americans buy around 4 billion cut stems a year? about 10 million a day? that lizards and small mammals are important pollinators as well as many insects? that if it weren’t for fly maggots, the world would not have chocolate? The horror! 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this book. Below are a few suggestions for further reading about flowers, and please do come back in a month as we chat about The Artist’s Mother!

Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers by Amy Stewart

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan (The tulip and apple chapters were my faves!)

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Secret Garden by France Hodgson Burnett (Because classics are always a good idea.)

How to be a Wildflower: A Field Guide by Katie Daisy (This journal-like book just looks like pure, beautiful fun!)

The Lars Book Club is hosted by contributor, Julie Richardson