Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

« Celebrating with Cranberries and Pure Maple Syrup | Main | Nature’s Imperfections: “The Mottled Moments That Make Us Human”. »

Flowers of Volunteer Park Conservatory; a book review

Flowers of Volunteer Park Conservatory, blooming month by month. Sara L. Chapman, published by Book Publishers Network

I belong to a community of over 3,000 garden writers where members are encouraged to evaluate each other’s work, by assigning votes to pleasing blog posts. The number of visitors each one receives also determines a member’s popularity. Ever since the creation of this garden community, almost four years ago, the most popular blogs, have been those offering spectacular photographs of flowers. Every day, talented photobloggers enchant their followers with close-ups of plants, otherwise impossible to appreciate with the naked eye.

When I first glanced at the first few pages of Ms. Chapman’s book, I realized that she, too, understands the power of the flower close up; immediately, I was blown away by her work. This visually entertaining book is a photographic phenomenon. – vivid colorful close-ups of flowers and plants, each page more beautiful than the next, and each featuring a plant at its zenith.

A hidden gem of Seattle, Washington’s park system, Volunteer Park Conservatory is one of the last Victorian glass conservatories in the U.S.  This historic venue is comprised of five houses: the Palm House displaying an incredible orchid collection; the Seasonal house with an ever-changing show of flowers in spring, summer, autumn, and winter; the Cactus House containing intriguing cacti, succulents, and flowers, the Fern House with tropical and carnivorous plants; and the Bromeliad House home to pineapple plants, air plants, and other exotic flowers.

The intention of the author has been to create a miniature coffee table book to share her personal view of the flowers as they change throughout the year. This work, based upon twelve monthly visits, showcases at their peak, magnificent, rare flowers and extraordinary foliage gathered from around the world.

Throughout the year, each of the houses is in a continuous state of flux, as extraordinary specimens are put on display when they come into bloom or bear unusual fruit. The conservatory is known also for its signature blend of perfect horticultural techniques with world- class, creative plant combinations. Inserted skillfully between the showpiece plants are complimentary foliage to enhance and create a seamless display. The result is a year-round, fluid, horticultural journey through five diverse bioregions. Ms. Chapman has artfully captured it all with this publication.

This reviewer cannot emphasize enough the intense pleasure conveyed by each group of seasonal pages. The images are so powerful, that admiring more than a few at a time might be overwhelming. Like a fine brandy, the contents of this photographic essay should be sipped slowly - a little bit at a time. The quality of the illustrations is so great that a reader can feel the healing beauty of the plants simply by admiring their photographs.

Award-winning nature photographer Sara L. Chapman is also a graphic designer, photoblogger, and gardener. Like Monet, she gardens to have good photo subjects. This book, offered both in hardcover and paperback, is available from or may be purchased directly from the author at   


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

That cover photo is incredible. I can almost smell the angel's trumpet from here! Closeups of flowers are strikingly beautiful. I find it's easier to take pretty ones (at least to my eyes) than it is to take wider view shots of the garden.

November 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVW

Really a good one. Thanks for sharing the post.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGraphic Design

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>