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Definitive dictionary

By Rene Schweitzer | July 26, 2019

A resource for gardeners

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Bill Zuback
A Botanist’s Vocabulary
By Susan K. Pell and Bobbi Angell
Published by Timber Press
133 SW 2nd Ave. #450
Portland, OR 97204

7″ x 9″
228 pages
Price: $24.95

Bill Zuback
I’m the type of person who can open a dictionary and quickly get lost in the illustrations on the page. Nicely drawn illustrations grab my attention and I’ll soon forget exactly why Istarted searching!

This book is an alphabetical reference of 1,300 gardening terms, so it’s essentially a dictionary for gardeners. And within its 228 pages are 726 line drawings, illustrating many of the words.

While the majority of the book is terms/definitions, there’s a short introduction in the front and two pages of recommended reading in the back.

The book uses just two colors on its pages: Red for the gardening term and its synonyms/antonyms, and black for the definitions and drawings. Each entry contains the word, its definition, and synonyms/antonyms if appropriate. About half of the entries include a drawing. If the entry refers to only part of the drawing, a red callout points to the specific area of mention. On average, a spread of two pages contains between 8-12 definitions.

A red colored tab on the outside edge of the page highlights the letter of the alphabet you’re on. These tabs are staggered down the pages’ edges, so it’s easy to flip to a certain letter. Every letter of the alphabet includes entries, except for “y.”

If this book had been just a list of definitions, I wouldn’t be writing this review. The illustrations turn a good book into a great one. They are nicely done and have a vintage feel. Photos (or in this case, illustrations) are worth 1,000 words. On page 37, for instance, you’ll see the term “bud scale.” I didn’t recognize this term, but when I saw the illustration I immediately knew what it was (and in this case, it included two drawings showing different bud scales). The photo above left shows this page.

The only quibble I haave is that I’d love to have a pronunciation guide next to each term. While many words are easy to pronounce (bud, branch, force), others words could benefit from pronunciation assistance (fulvous, mucronate, monoecious).

This isn’t a book you’ll likely read cover to cover, though you certainly could. It will be a book you’ll find valuable when you need to look up a term, or if you need a visual of a plant’s components. I recommend it.

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