Recent Home, Garden & DIY picks

A beautiful garden doesn’t have to take a lot of space. Get great tips on small scale gardening or event table top gardening. Plus, we have tips on brewing your own beer.

Syndetics book coverThe art of the natural home : a room by room guide / Rebecca Sullivan ; photography by Nassima Rothacker.
“More than ever, we appreciate the importance of health and well-being, and place great emphasis on the word ‘natural’. For many of us, though, this is limited to focussing on what we eat and drink. If we really want to achieve a natural lifestyle and optimum health, we need to take a more holistic approach. And that is what this book is about – natural recipes and products for the entire home, from the kitchen pantry to the cleaning cupboard, from your make-up bag to the medicine cabinet (and, happily, a few treats for the drinks trolley, too).” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverBuild it yourself : weekend projects for the garden / Frank Perrone ; photographs by Nicholas Perrone ; illustrations by Christopher Perrone.
Build It Yourself is a fun, accessible, and portable guide to constructing twelve practical, tasteful projects for your garden and home. Author and master woodworker Frank Perrone instructs with the novice in mind. Each project is designed for simple building, complete with a materials list, a cut sheet that makes getting lumber a snap, dimensional diagrams, illustrated step-by-step instructions with attention to every detail, and “Helpful Hints,” plus space for notes.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy tiny flower garden : beautiful blooms in surprisingly small places / Matt Collins ; photography by Roo Lewis.
“With colorful cutting patches, sweet-scented city streets and pickup trucks perfect for pollinators, we’ve unearthed 25 amazing unconventional plots. Meet the couple packing pavements with flowers, the landscape architect who has constructed a meadow in the middle of London, and the Detroit florists who created an awe-inspiring installation in an abandoned building (before deconstructing the site and turning the land into a community flower farm).” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe foodscape revolution : finding a better way to make space for food and beauty in your garden / Brie Arthur.
“Once upon a time, veggie gardens lived in the backyard, isolated from the rest of the landscape. that’s so yesterday! Welcome to a whole new world of food gardening–right up front, sharing space with your ornamental plants for year-round, knockout beauty and function…in a way that even homeowners associations (HOAs) would approve.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverSunshine spaces / Beci Orpin.
“In “Sunshine Spaces”, designer Beci Orpin shows us how to make and create a range of fun homewares and other fabulous ideas for your outdoor space, including outdoor entertaining as well as how to bring a little of the outdoors inside your home! Inspired by the color and beauty of nature, projects include planter pots and hanging pots, picnic blanket and outdoor cushions, hammock and swing, sun umbrella and many more. Beci also includes advice on the best indoor plants and their care, some great pots to put them in, flower arranging and natural art installations, as well as a complete guide to plant-based fabric dying.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTiny tabletop gardens : 35 projects for super-small spaces– outdoors and in / Emma Hardy.
“No matter how small your space you will find these 35 projects simple and achievable. Why not try some indoor projects on rainy days; plant some little ferns under glass domes, make Japanese moss balls for the roots of some colorful orchids, or why not create a unique water garden in glass goblets? Make use of any outdoor space you have with hanging lantern planters, little place name pots for a party, a tower of plants, and a beautiful chandelier with small planted glasses.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBrew Your Own big book of homebrewing : all-grain and extract brewing, kegging, 50+ craft beer recipes, tips and tricks from the pros / editors of Brew Your Own.
“For more than two decades, America’s homebrewers have turned to Brew Your Own magazine for the best information on making incredible beer at home. From well-tested recipes to expert advice, Brew Your Own sets the standard for quality. Now, for the first time, the magazine’s best homebrew guides, recipes, troubleshooting, and tips are brought together in one book.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe value of weeds / Ann Cliff.
“Weeds are wild plants that have survived in the face of centuries of hostility. Many gardeners who are unfamiliar with the versatility of weeds think of them as a nuisance. They can be good, bad, dangerous, or beautiful. Above all, they are tough. This essential guide explores the virtues of good weeds, including how they can protect soil and add to soil fertility; act as companion plants in gardens; provide food for farm livestock; support wild life; provide herbal remedies for minor ailments; yield vegetable dyes; and finally, give us weed cuisine: nutritious food and drink for free.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWood floors : hardwood, laminate, bamboo, wood tile, and more.
“While home interior trends change, and some of the flooring options may come and go with them, the popularity of wood flooring does not wane. It’s an enduring material choice that can add value and charm to a home. DIYers with moderate tool skills can tackle a wood-flooring project and enjoy the cost savings that go along with their successful efforts.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe gardening in miniature prop shop : handmade accessories for your tiny living world / Janit Calvo ; with photographs by Kate Baldwin.
The Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop is the next big thing for the crafters and gardeners already captivated by gardening small. Organized by playful themes–including gardens around the world, holidays, and fantasy gardens–it’s a fun-filled guide to creating one-of-a-kind gardens and the accessories that make them shine. Thirty-seven projects are included with fully illustrated, step-by-step instructions.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent Home, Garden & DIY picks.

It’s all about creativity and style. This month’s pick features vertical garden, best soil, and personalised design for your garden, as well as decoration and desserts for your party!

Syndetics book coverDomino : your guide to a stylish home : discovering your personal style and creating a space you love / by Domino editors, Jessica Romm Perez, Shani Silver.
“From the editors of domino magazine comes the essential guide to discovering your personal style at home. Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home will help readers to: Identify your personal decorating style. Find inspiration from hundreds of beautiful, inspiring photos of real homes. Style the major and minor components of your home, from textiles to table settings to art. Shop for quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Learn from domino editors and tastemakers about how to style magazine-quality looks at home…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe good dirt / Xanthe White.
“As the title suggests, this book is all about the soil we find in our garden and more particularly how we can maximize its growing potential. If you’ve ever wondered why some plants thrive in one location but struggle in your own backyard you’ll be likely to find explanations in the soil below. Xanthe White examines the five main soil types found in New Zealand and offers advice on how to get the best from each one by working in harmony with nature. Complete with ingredients guides for each soil type and ideas and design features to enhance its fertility, this is an essential companion for anyone looking to establish a new garden or improve their existing one.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood Housekeeping simple household wisdom : 425 easy ways to clean & organize your home / edited by Sara Lyle Bow.
“Your home is the place where you’re free to relax, entertain, and express your personality. Filled with fabulous photographs of every room, plus genius tips, savvy shortcuts, and quick fixes for tidying, decluttering, organizing, adding style, and more, Good Housekeeping Simple Household Wisdom is your go-to guide for turning a house into the home you’ll love even more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverModern potluck : beautiful food to share / Kristin Donnelly.
Modern Potluck is a cookbook and guide for today’s potluckers that delivers Instagram-worthy dishes packed with exciting, bold flavors. These 100 make-ahead recipes are perfect for a crowd and navigate carnivore, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan preferences gracefully. With beautiful color photographs and lots of practical information such as how to pack foods to travel, Modern Potluck is the ultimate book for gathering friends and family around an abundant, delicious meal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVertical gardens / Leigh Clapp & Hattie Klotz.
“Vertical gardening is a fun, creative way to grow plants in urban spaces. As long as you’ve got a blank wall or bare fence that needs beautifying, you can tend edibles, annuals, even perennials with vertical garden products. Vertical gardens will turn your bare spaces into gorgeous living walls indoors and out.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverSimple tailoring & alterations : hems, waistbands, seams, sleeves, pockets, cuffs, darts, tucks, fastenings, necklines, linings / J. François-Campbell.
“Revamp your wardrobe with advice from acclaimed costumer and expert tailor J. Francois-Campbell in this comprehensive guide to maintaining and altering men’s and women’s clothing. Simple Tailoring & Alterations offers concise instructions covering all tailoring and alteration techniques from replacing buttons to changing a garment’s shape for a better fit. Guided by easy to follow instructions, you will enjoy projects on skirts, dresses, pants, jackets, shirts, coats, sweaters, vests, ties, and more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWell played : the ultimate guide to awakening your family’s playful spirit / Meredith Sinclair.
“From Today Show contributor, Meredith Sinclair, comes this ultimate resource for awakening your playful spirit, jumpstarting your relationships, and upping your happiness quotient. In our age of digital addiction, many of us have lost our ability to be spontaneous. More parents are complaining that they no longer even remember how to play…with their children, their spouse, and even with their own friends. Don’t fret! In Well Played, expert Meredith Sinclair helps families relearn what used to come naturally and shows how to find happiness through play. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElbows off the table, please : recipes to make any occasion special / Jo Seagar ; photography by Jae Frew.
“Delicious, effortless recipes along with wise advice on how to navigate any social occasion. A home-cooked meal or gift of baking is still one of the best ways to show your appreciation. …Jo Seagar shares her favourite dishes for simple gatherings, special celebrations and those times when a home-made offering saves the day. Accompanied by useful tips to help you be a generous host and gracious guest, this is an indispensable kitchen-to-table companion.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe finer things : timeless furniture, textiles, and details / Christiane Lemieux ; foreword by Miles Redd.
“Quality matters. Just as a home’s foundation should be built to stand the test of time, so, too, should the furniture, objects, and elements of our rooms speak to an enduring sense of beauty and comfort. They should outlast trends and our loving day-to-day use. …Weaving together the insights and guidance of dozens of wallpaper and paint specialists, textile fabricators, accessories artisans, and interior designers, Lemieux has curated an unparalleled education in recognizing the hallmarks of timeless, heirloom-quality pieces.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDecorate for a party : stylish and simple ideas for meaningful gatherings / Holly Becker + Leslie Shewring.
Decorate for a Party is a stunning sourcebook packed with decorating tips and techniques that will ignite your creativity. Whether you are planning a significant celebration or a simple dinner with friends, this book delivers creative ideas for every occasion.” (

Home, garden & DIY in Winter – featuring gardening for kids & DIY furniture

This month’s recent pick features home DIY and gardening projects, including some ideas for keeping the little ones busy in the winter! Also in this month’s picks — check out houses with energy saving designs.

Syndetics book coverHandmade personalized photo gifts: over 75 creative DIY gifts and keepsakes to make from your photographs
“Photographs always evoke strong emotions with those special moments caught on camera–this book shows you over 75 fabulous ways to display your photographs on virtually any surface! Using the very latest trends, techniques and materials this books shows you how photos can be added to practically any surface to create unique gifts. Project ideas include: canvas prints, bottles, plates, mugs and jars, jewellery, cushions, blankets, toys and puzzles. Step-by-step photographs will both teach and inspire you to create amazing results–so give your creativity free rein and fill your life with your special moments.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreative shrub garden: eye-catching combinations for year-round interest
“The Creative Shrub Garden celebrates a plant that is too often taken for granted and gives gardeners the confidence to use shrubs in the design-forward treatment they deserve. This book shows you how to make the most of the many benefits of shrubs–including their hardiness, year-long beauty, size, and low-maintenance nature–by making them the main element in a garden design. McIndoe teaches you the basics first, with tips on choosing shrubs based on a garden’s size, determining soil and climate needs, and pruning and maintenance. He then offers hundreds of shrub combinations that work with 15 main garden styles, including coastal, cottage, Mediterranean, tropical, urban, and more.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDIY furniture 2 : a step-by-step guide / Christopher Stuart.
“Featuring 30 new designs by leading designer-makers from around the world, DIY Furniture 2 builds on the international success of the previous title, showing you step-by-step how to make unique designer furniture.Including both conceptual objects and modern designs, the book showcases innovative processes using readily available materials commonly found at the local hardware store. Each project features diagrams with short, easy-to-follow instructions on how to build the piece.The projects range from novice to experienced, allowing the reader to start where they are comfortable and work towards more difficult projects as they gain knowledge, familiarity with tools, and confidence.The designs in this book will have you thinking about common materials in a whole new way!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProjectKid / Amanda Kingloff ; photographs by Alexandra Grablewski.
“Perfect for crafty parents who are eager to get their kids excited about DIY. Have you ever think a body-wash bottle would make a perfect rocket ship? Author Kingloff uses everyday objects in an unexpected, ingenious way. And these are projects for things kids want to make–and keep–from a juice-box owl to a pirate ship to a curio cabinet for displaying all of their treasures, plus games, jewellery, and more. Also included in the book are basic crafting lessons (such as pom-pom making and weaving) to help children of all ages build a DIY arsenal, a handy guide to must-have tools and materials, and a source directory.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTaming wildflowers : bringing the beauty and splendor of nature’s blooms into your own backyard / Miriam Goldberger.
“Easily cultivate wildflowers in your own garden…and have a year-after-year supply of gorgeous flowers at your fingertips. Wildflower farmer and floral designer Miriam Goldberger is here to show you how.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe nesting place : it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful / Myquillyn Smith.
“Myquillyn believes that there is beauty in imperfection, in the lived-in and loved-on and used-just-about-up. Imperfections put people at ease and free us to take risks and create the home-and the life-we’ve always wanted. Myquillyn’s warm and insightful words are paired with her own gorgeous four-color photos and creative, easy ideas for arranging, decorating, and building a home that welcomes everyone. Readers will learn how to create their own style-without breaking the bank or stressing over comparisons.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGardening lab for kids : 52 fun experiments to learn, grow, harvest, make, play, and enjoy your garden / Renata Fossen Brown.
“A refreshing source of ideas to help your children learn to grow their own patch of earth. This fun and creative book features 52 plant-related activities set into weekly lessons, beginning with learning to read maps to find your heat zone, moving through seeds, soil, composting, and then creating garden art and appreciating your natural surroundings. Author Renata Fossen Brown guides your family through fun opportunities learning about botany, ecology, the seasons, food, patience, insects, eating, and cooking. The labs can be used as singular projects or to build up to a year of hands-on outdoor experiences. So, slip on your muddy clothes, and get out and grow.” (Abridged from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverWarm house, cool house : inspirational designs for low-energy housing / Nick Hollo ; foreword by Jamie Durie.
“To aid in the minimization of environmental impact, this book offers valuable advice on how to help keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter with little or no reliance upon appliances. Illustrated with more than 100 inspiring contemporary examples of low-energy housing design, this fully updated edition contains practical and clever suggestions to make any home–in any climatic zone–an environmentally sustainable, comfortable, and attractive place to live year-round, while keeping electricity, gas, and water bills comfortably low.” (Syndetics summary)

Home, Garden and DIY March: Stylish Living and Property Investment

Gorgeous hand-made bouquet, with a hint of caffeine-influenced design, and beautifully preserved vegetables will bring your home a fresh new look. Also have a look at the property investment books.

Syndetics book coverDecorate with flowers: creative ideas for flowers and containers around the home
“This unique collaboration between international bestselling interiors author and stylist Holly Becker of the award-winning design blog, decor, and Leslie Shewring, product designer, photographer and stylist, offers advice on selecting, combining and arranging flowers to best complement your decor. Decorate with Flowers contains a host of exciting ideas separated into eight gorgeous styles, showing flowers in relaxed, casual homes alongside those with some serious panache. You’ll find a host of creative ideas for entertaining at home, from tea parties to cocktails with friends.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverBuilt for caffeine / by Ben Crawford.
“In the land of the long black and flat white, it’s no surprise that some of New Zealand’s most innovative and original design is found in our cafes. In Built for Caffeine, Ben Crawford explores the beautiful, inventive and sometimes quirky interior design from 20 favourite cafes nationwide… Contains interviews with the owners, architects and designers of each cafe, retelling their inspiring stories before translating their fit-out features into design ideas and tips that you can use in your own home.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverRowan Bishop with relish : fine chutneys, pickles & more / photographs by Carolyn Robertson.
“Preserving fresh seasonal produce as well as adding interest and flavour to meals with chutneys, pickles, relishes and sauces are age-old, timeless practices. In this, her fifth book, Rowan Bishop indulges her passion for these wonderfully versatile condiments. Not content to stick with the traditional, Rowan has developed over 50 recipes designed to reduce sugar content and let the natural qualities of ingredients shine. She has then enhanced and intensified flavours with spices and herbs from different cuisines and also extended the preserves repertoire beyond the familiar, to include sambals, salsas, pastes, tapenades, a liqueur and even a ‘champagne’. Ideal for the home gardener as well as easy on the budget, these are recipes to savour and relish.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe manual of seed saving : harvesting, storing, and sowing techniques for vegetables, herbs, and fruits / Andrea Heistinger ; in association with Arche Noah, Pro Specie Rara ; translated by Ian Miller.
“Heistinger, an Austrian agronomist, in association with Austrian (Arche Noah) and Swiss (Pro Specia Rara) conservation foundations, presents agronomist Miller’s translation of her award-winning Austrian publication, a comprehensive guide to correctly harvesting, storing, and planting seeds from more than 100 vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The author aims to enable gardeners and farmers to create their own heirloom seeds rather than depending on commercial varieties to grow plants that will thrive under local conditions, to maintain existing plant varieties that may be otherwise lost, to diversify crops, and simply to enjoy good-tasting homegrown foods. The tested techniques offered here in consultation with global experts are easy to follow in both photographs and text. Arranged alphabetically by common plant name, from amaranth to “tomato and relatives,” each plant is described in terms of botanical and propagation characteristics. Also included for each entry are overviews of the plant family, “What You’ll Need” to harvest the plant’s seed, pollination notes, and extensive information on growing the plant for its seeds, harvesting it, selection criteria of which to be aware, and cultivation history. VERDICT With increasing numbers of edible plant varieties disappearing from seed catalogs and gardens, this work enables its audience to engage in a worthy pursuit. It will be very useful for hobbyist and professional growers. A green thumb up.” (Adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverTruth lies & real estate : a property seller’s essential guide / Nigel Mayson & Wendy Mayson.
“The authors, who have extensive experience in both property and marketing in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, offer a practical guide for all property owners to confidently and successfully negotiate their way through the agent/agency appointment, property marketing, and selling processes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInvest & prosper with property : how Kiwis can profit from property investment / David Whitburn.
“A bang-up-to-date book on property investment in New Zealand, with lots of practical advice from a rising star in this market. This book has been written as an authoritative text on New Zealand property investment. Its goal is to inform investors and inspire and teach would-be investors about how investing in property the right way can make for an improved life. There have been numerous changes to legislation recently, requiring the vast majority of New Zealand property investors and would-be investors to consider changing their investment strategy in response. The global financial crisis and systemic changes to the finance industry also require changes from investors. The book includes many of the author’s own experiences. It is clear and readable in its technical aspects. Chapters include: Why should I invest in property? What do I need to know to get started? Should I buy commercial or residential property? What investment strategy is best for me? How can I really check out a property? How do I structure my property ownership? How can I save money on my mortgage? What do I need to know about accounting and taxation? How do I get and keep good tenants? How can I minimise risks… and much more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand guide on how to subdivide a 1/4 acre property : my experience of residential subdivision in New Zealand / by Toa Greening.
“This book is the complete guide on ¼ acre residential property subdivisions in New Zealand. A 90 page compilation of budgeting calculations, estimations, graphs, site diagrams, pictures and case studies are used throughout to illustrate the various aspects of property development and subdivision. “The aim is to share my experiences of subdividing a quarter acre section so that you too can realise the potential of property subdivision. I will show you how the initial deposit of $30,000 turned into $400,000 in less than five years through property subdivision. More importantly I will teach you how to successfully subdivide property yourself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHomes people can afford : how to improve housing in New Zealand / edited by Sarah Bierre, Philippa Howden-Chapman & Lisa Early.
“This book investigates New Zealand’s shortage of affordable and social housing. Contributors from a variety of disciplines and policy perspectives argue that when affordable and social housing is under-provided by the market, more active policies and investment are required from central and local government. They offer viable and exciting options which, in combination, could house New Zealanders in homes they can afford. The book explores new models of urban living that encourage a sense of community and a good quality of life, and shows that intelligent housing policy can help make communities healthier, happier, more stable and more resilient to climate change. In Aotearoa New Zealand we need once more to see quality, healthy, safe housing, whether it is rented in the public or private sector, or owner-occupied, as a human right.” (Publisher’s information)

Refresh your home and garden this summer: Recent Picks For February

This year’s new books features great innovative ideas for decorating and refreshing the home and garden. Have a browse.

Syndetics book coverBathroom ideas you can use : secrets & solutions for freshening up the hardest-working room in your house / Chris Peterson.
“A design and inspiration book that is packed full with gorgeous photos of beautiful bathrooms and highly desired bathroom fixtures. It contains useful information and intelligent discussion, and features hundreds of beautiful photos of rooms, materials and fixtures. All of the most common fixtures include: multi-head shower stalls, tubs and spas, vanities, lavatory sinks, toilets and bidets, vent fans and even saunas and infrared steam baths. Accessories can transform a plain bath into a luxury salon, including: towel warmers, anti-fog mirrors, cabinetry and cabinet organizers, paper holders and towel rods, shower doors, and home electronics. Whatever your plans may be, from a simple refreshing to a complete makeover, your next bathroom remodeling project starts here.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreative vegetable gardening
“British garden writer Larkcom suggests ways to enliven vegetable gardens by adding flowers, arches, arbors or free-standing decorative items. Beginning with a brief overview of the potager, the centuries-old concept of vegetable gardening in France, she moves from vast elegantly designed gardens to the practical, with photos of British gardens she knows. Elements of design and siting are explained and beautifully illustrated in sufficient detail for even novice gardeners who want to embellish their vegetable patches with colorful unexpected elements. Taking on all details, from myriad variations on fencing, edging and garden paths to the multiple color and texture diversity of various lettuces, spinaches and other greens, Larkcom also offers a comprehensive alphabetical directory of vegetables (including little-known varieties).” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGardens are for living: design inspiration for outdoor spaces
“Here, Kameon shares insights for making dynamic outdoor spaces that are both beautiful and usable. Inspired by the midcentury-modern ethos that introduced the idea of everyday outdoor living, she shares strategies for making complete environments-what to look for when choosing the paths, walls, and plants but also the lighting, furniture, and accessories. The goal is to create a linked series of warm settings for different purposes to suit different occasions-whether it is a patio for cocktails around the fire pit, a large table for dinner parties, or a cozy hangout nook for curling up with a book. She also shows how to use elements like mats, pillows, lanterns, and benches to carve out individual retreats. It is an inspiring lifestyle with deep roots in California, but one that can be created anywhere.” (Abridged from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverHomes from home : inventive small spaces, from chic shacks to cabins and caravans / Vinny Lee.
“Lee (Recycled Spaces) opens with a reminder that “there is something special about a small, intimate living space, a place where you can let your imagination roam and where responsibilities are few and far between.” The simplicity of these homes may only be skin deep-to convert an old grain store into a residence, the builders used the same tinfoil insulation used in space shuttle construction. The book explores “huts” made from metal, stone, and clay and highlights the appeal of wood structures, including treehouses with long winding staircase up into the branches. Some of the spaces are pure fantasy-a Swiss mountain chalet built by local craftsmen pegging the wood beams rather than nailing, or a South African rondavel with a thatch roof that needs regular patching and replacement. Others seem achievable by anyone: a pop-up trailer “drawn, cut, pasted and sewn by hand.” The author promotes a philosophy of enjoying the natural surroundings: use rainwater to wash hair, harvest herbs to make fresh teas, and decorate with old and recycled furniture and accessories.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverConverted houses : New Zealand architecture recycled / photography, Daniel Allen ; text, Lucinda Diack.
“Converted Houses showcases clever examples of New Zealand’s early architecture being recycled for modern day living. Industrial and farming buildings, halls, chapels, community landmarks and even a cool store are among the clever conversions featured within this inspiring collection of innovative homes.” (Publisher’s information)

Syndetics book cover“Style your modern vintage home : a guide to buying, restoring and styling from the 1920s to the 1990s / Kate Beavis ; foreword by Paloma Faith.
Style Your Modern Vintage Home is an inspirational book for all vintage enthusiasts. It covers a decade from the 1920s to the 1990s, and provides practical tip for buying, styling and restoring your vintage homewares home. Vintage enthusiasts can restore or integrate the living room, bedroom, kitchen, study, hall and even the garden.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverFarrow & Ball : decorating with colour / Ros Byam Shaw ; photography by Jan Baldwin.
“Farrow & Ball is an iconic British brand and a great British success story. Its paints and wallpapers are used to decorate stylish homes all over the world. Following on from the best-selling Farrow and Ball Living with Colour, this book features a fabulous range of homes, all of which have been specially photographed for the book.” (Syndetics summary)

December Gardening Picks

Amongst this month’s new garden book picks In the Garden was a standout. This beautifully illustrated book cleverly introduces some of our iconic native flora and fauna in a very accessible way.  In the practical gardening tips department  there is advice on how to rejig and refresh existing plant arrangements rather than starting from scratch which is also appealing.

Syndetics book coverIn the garden : explore & discover the New Zealand backyard / Ned Barraud & Gillian Candler.
In the Garden introduces young children to common creatures they can find in a New Zealand garden.  The book describes their relationship with other living things, and includes many interesting and intriguing facts. This book encourages children aged 4-8 to explore their gardens and discover the plants and animals that live there, with sections on bees, wasps and flies; butterflies and moths; snails and spiders; lizards, mammals and birds. Aimed at children from pre-schoolers and up, the book will also appeal to anyone who is curious about the wild side of New Zealand gardens.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRefresh your garden design with color, texture & form / Rebecca Sweet.
“This book is packed with advice on how to wake up boring garden beds, ways to make a cramped garden feel bigger and also ideas on how to  bring a sense of intimacy to an expansive area. If you are needing ideas on how to downplay eyesores, or need to create a certain mood this you will find suggestions on which plants to keep and which to pull, and also how to  thoughtfully integrate hardscaping, structures and accessories.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeatrix Potter’s gardening life : the plants and places that inspired the classic children’s tales / Marta McDowell.
“There aren’t many books more beloved than The Tale of Peter Rabbit and even fewer authors as iconic as Beatrix Potter.  Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is the first book to explore the origins of Beatrix Potter’s love of gardening and plants and show how this passion came to be reflected in her work. The book begins with a gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout her life that helped define her, including her home Hill Top Farm in England’s Lake District.  Richly illustrated and filled with quotations from her books, letters, and journals, it is essential reading for all who know and cherish Beatrix Potter’s classic tales.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy can’t my garden look like that? : proven, easy ways to make a beautiful garden of your own / John Shortland.
“John Shortland demonstrates just how easy it is to make adjustments to what is already there to make your garden stunning, whatever its size. Whether it’s an issue with design, plant selection or pruning – or even lack of time – simple solutions are described in clear language that will appeal both to the complete novice and those with more experience.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAustralian coastal gardens / Myles Baldwin, photography by Sue Stubbs.
“The coastal gardens of Australia are as varied as the geography of this vast continent itself. Join Myles Baldwin as he travels around the country, from the gentle landscape of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and the sheer cliffs of Sydney’s Dover Heights to an old copper mining town in South Australia and beyond.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe essential Audrey Eagle : botanical art of New Zealand.
“Presents more than 150 paintings of our most loved native plants, from every major genus. The beautiful full-colour plates are accompanied by detailed notes, and a fresh introduction tells the story of Audrey Eagle and sets her place in the history of botanical illustration of New Zealand’s unique native flora” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe biodynamic orchard book / Ehrenfried Pfeiffer and Michael Maltas.
” This book brings together the best advice for cultivating fruit trees, berries and shrubs using biodynamic methods, with the aim of harvesting healthy fruit free of pesticides.This is an invaluable book with practical advice on all aspects of planning and maintaining a healthy orchard.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGrow your own plants / [Alan Titchmarsh].
“By using a variety of simple propagation techniques you can learn how to grow your own plants for free. Alan Titchmarsh shows how to sow seed, take leaf and root cuttings, divide shrubs, and how to promote growth in your young plants. He covers all the essentials and provides inspirational ideas for filling your garden with flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables, all grown from scratch.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBackyard foraging : 65 familiar plants you didn’t know you could eat / Ellen Zachos.
“You don’t need to trek into the forest to forage edible plants. Ideal for first-time foragers, this book features 70 edible weeds, flowers, mushrooms, and ornamental plants typically found in urban or suburban neighborhoods. You’ll be amazed by how many of the plants you see each day are actually nutritious edibles. Full-color photographs make identification easy, and tips on where certain plants are likely to be found, how to avoid pollution and pesticides, and how to recognize the plants you should NEVER harvest make foraging as safe and simple as stepping into your own backyard.” (Syndetics summary)

Got the Green at My Home

Sustainable living and permaculture gardening may sound a bit like an abstract concept to you – how about an energy saving home, zero-cost furniture, fruitful gardens and delicious salads and meats? Green living starts here!

Syndetics book coverTeaming with nutrients : the organic gardener’s guide to optimizing plant nutrition / Jeff Lowenfels.
“Colorful illustrations, plentiful and readable diagrams, and a well-executed chapter structure make this an indispensable resource for the serious organic farmer who did not major in organic chemistry. Lowenfels (Teaming with Microbes) has packed as much helpful information into this volume about how plants absorb nutrients as there are nutrients in a single plant cell-that is, lots. The book is weighty on the scientific level, but accessible. Each chapter builds on the previous one and concludes with a summary bullet-point section called “Summing Up.” (Some readers may benefit from reading the summary bullet points first.) Not all of the technical information presented here will be suited to every organic farmer, but every farmer will benefit from some element in the book-if nothing else, from Grandpa Al’s Can’t Fail Recipe for organic fertilizer. For organic farmers who take the book seriously, it will forever change the way they look at the “back forty.”” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverWood pallet projects : cool and easy-to-make projects for the home and garden / Chris Gleason.
“Lumber prices are soaring, and deforestation is a rising concern. Yet millions of pounds of perfectly usable wood are dumped in landfills every year. Wood Pallet Projects shows how anyone can upcycle salvaged pallet wood to create truly one-of-a-kind projects. Maverick craftsman Chris Gleason combines sound woodworking techniques with a hip designer’s sensibility to unleash the limitless possibilities of the common skid. Inside you’ll find 15 of his inspired projects for rescuing and repurposing pallets. Some of his pieces celebrate the rough, edgy character of the material, while others are crafted as fine furniture. He shows how to construct both indoor and outdoor furniture in a variety of styles, along with other useful items such as a birdhouse, a toolbox, and even a ukulele. There’s plenty of nitty gritty here on working with pallets, including where to find them, how to process them into usable lumber, fasteners, sanding, and the best finishes (if any) to use. The author provides important advice on how to make sure that your pallets are safe, and not sprayed with harmful chemicals. A colorful gallery of finished work provides further inspiration for green crafting.” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverParadise lot : two plant geeks, one-tenth of an acre and the making of an edible garden oasis in the city / Eric Toensmeier ; with contributions from Jonathan Bates.
“With their shared passion for plants and a commitment to creating as self-sustaining a garden as possible on a minuscule lot in a small New England city cursed with a terrible climate and even worse soil, Toensmeier and Bates set about converting their urban backyard into a permaculture paradise. Informed by his work on a seminal, two-volume encyclopedia devoted to the concept of forest gardening, Toensmeier transformed the infertile and debris-laden property behind the duplex he shared with Bates into a natural ecosystem teeming with edible plants. As the authors’ postage-stamp-size front yard morphed into a lush, tropical showcase that astounded their Massachusetts community, the backyard incorporated all the components necessary to produce fresh fruits and vegetables year-round using cold-hardy, mostly native plants that would ideally require a minimum amount of work for a maximum output. As a memoir of a purposeful life, Toensmeier’s work is engaging, honest, and natural. As a directive to other gardeners eager to establish natural ecosystems in unlikely settings, his work is instructive, illuminating, and inspirational.” (Adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFundamentals of sustainable dwellings / Avi Friedman.
“Architect Friedman (McGill Univ., Canada) covers the principles of residential green buildings, addressing topics ranging from site location to building materials, heating and cooling systems, water efficiency, green roofs, and waste management. The author writes in a reader-friendly manner in layperson’s terms, includes many photographs and illustrations, and provides the basic principles that most architects and builders should know and hopefully follow. Everyone would live in a much more sustainable world if the fundamentals presented in this book were practiced on a wide scale. Each of the 13 chapters is punctuated with case studies relative to that particular topic. Unfortunately, the majority of the buildings chosen for case studies are box-shaped buildings devoid of much aesthetic value. This reviewer agrees that these buildings are likely more energy efficient, but there is still room for aesthetic design in sustainable construction. Summing Up: Recommended.” (Adapted from CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverThe Chefs Collaborative cookbook : local, sustainable, delicious recipes from America’s great chefs / Chefs Collaborative & Ellen Jackson ; photography by Gentl & Hyers.
“In the first cookbook from the Chefs Collaborative, food and sustainability take center stage. Pairing taste and ingredients with conscientiousness for the environment (in both a global and local sense), this book offers insight into scrumptious cooking with a conscience. Written with the premise that “food grown near to us is… fresher [and] offers… the opportunity to explore and eat from the regional edible plants available to us,” the cookbook focuses on local, seasonal ingredients. Divided into four main sections, every ingredient has its day in the sun. The recipes range from the simple but tasty (such as grilled eggplant with roasted red pepper and black olive salad and buttermilk fried chicken) to more complex dishes, like traditional coq au vin and grilled skin-on striped bass with summer tomatoes and horta. With contributions from multiple well-known and respected chefs, including Peter Hoffman and Jesse Cool, and informative sections on how to make the reader’s food “better for the environment” and “fresh from the freezer,” this book will cause even the seasoned chef look at his or her surroundings in a whole new light and with a new appetite.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverSimply this : printed and dyed handmade projects / Fiona Fagan.
“Simply, this is a craft book that celebrates natural tones, organic textures and found objects. Fiona Fagan shows you how to print your own beautifully patterned fabric using stencils that can easily be found around the home. The book also includes over 30 projects you can then use to create a unique gift or something special for yourself, for any area of your home – the bedroom, the kitchen or the living room. Fiona Fagan also shows you how to recycle – using found or treasured materials to embellish and add to your designs, making each project different. Spend a morning or a weekend and create a new look to your dining room, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom. Add a designer touch to your personal objects as well. Linen and cotton are ideal for these projects and with some simple recycle all the projects are not expensive to make. The fabric-dyeing processes are cheap, safe and easy to do in any home kitchen with no messy chemicals or complicated processes. Fiona also shows you how to create that amazing Japanese printing technique – Shibori. The book includes step-by-step photography on all the projects to guide you through each stage of the project with ease.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book cover100 contemporary green buildings = 100 zeitgenössiche grüne bauten = 100 bâtiments verts contemporains / Philip Jodidio. “Eco-friendly building in the world today
The most exciting new buildings in the world are now almost all environmentally aware, sustainable, and conceived to consume far less energy than ever before. That architecture is one of the major sources of greenhouse gases in the world makes this new trend all the more significant. This book brings the best examples of green projects from the Architecture Now! series together with numerous new, never-seen-before projects. Well-known architects like Frank Gehry and Norman Foster are present right alongside young, up-and-coming creators from Latin America, the United States, Europe, and Asia. This is not a technical book, nor are its contents limited to any predefined category. Being “green” means being aware of the responsibility implied in the construction and use of modern buildings, and there are many ways to express this rising consciousness. Some solutions, the ones generally called “passive,” are as old as the history of architecture, while others are born of cutting-edge technologies. Both approaches and many more are included in this groundbreaking collection of 100 of the world’s most innovative and recent eco-friendly buildings.” (Library catalogue)

Seeds to Sow and Green to Grow – Home, Garden and DIY for the Spring

Syndetics book coverHow to grow microgreens : quick, easy ways to grow & eat nature’s tasty superfoods / Fionna Hill.
“How to Grow Microgreens – the tiny seedlings of herbs and vegetables – are today’s hottest gourmet garnish, offering a multitude of colours, textures and distinct flavours, ranging from mild and subtle to spicy, hot or nutty. Larger than sprouts and smaller than ‘baby’ salad greens, microgreens are fantastic for those with limited garden space, as they are great to grow in containers on a terrace or windowsill. Immediate and practical, most varieties are ready in a week or so, and you can grow them in winter. As a bonus, as well as tasting great, nutritionally microgreens pack a powerful punch; they contain higher levels of active plant compounds than mature plants or seeds.
How to Grow Microgreens provides detailed information – from planting to harvesting – for 25 popular vegetables and herbs, along with recipes and ideas on how to use them. There are also chapters on troubleshooting, the nutritional value of microgreens and how to encourage children to grow and enjoy them.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverGroundbreaking food gardens: 73 plans that will change the way you grow your garden
“Niki Jabbour has collected 73 groundbreaking food garden plans from some of her favourite gardener superstars, including Amy Stewart, Amanda Thomsen, Barbara Pleasant, Jeff Lowenfels, Dave Dewitt, and Jessi Bloom. Each plan is illustrated and includes a profile of the contributor, the inspiration behind the design, and a plant list so readers can easily grow these themed gardens themselves.” (

Syndetics book coverKeep out! : build your own backyard clubhouse / Lee Mothes.
“Teacher and carpenter Mothes’s first book is filled with nostalgic charm. A gallery of possible clubhouses is introduced, all variations on a simple plan. An introduction to basic hand tools is obviously aimed at youth-the drawn illustrations are just right-with instructions added for adults. The projects are cleanly broken down and quite manageable, with lots of tips for both kids and adults. The last section of the book focuses on outbuildings for adults, but instructions here are abbreviated. Verdict? Any interested kid or adult can build a clubhouse with this book in hand. Fantastic advice and encouragement make each project approachable. For more sophisticated design, adults might be more inspired by Chris Gleason’s The Versatile Shed. A great addition to any building collection-highly recommended.” (Adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverTake Chelsea home : practical inspiration from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show / Chris Young ; foreword by Alan Titchmarsh.
“Celebrating 100 years of the Chelsea Flower Show with a beautiful centenary edition, Take Chelsea Home identifies the best in garden design and landscaping. This inspirational sourcebook presents the most attractive, practical, portable and recent designs and illustrates how these ideas might work in any garden. Chris Young, editor of RHS magazine, focuses on the fines details and finishing touches that help to transform our gardens and outdoor spaces.
Chris Young presents the RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s key design trends including Contemporary, Classic, Wildlife and the Kitchen Garden. He interviews gold-medal winning designers about their individual garden design style and provides context to their creations. Take Chelsea Home provides both the inspiration and the practical information to create beautifully designed and landscaped gardens at home.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverSmall space organics : creating sustainable, edible gardens / Josh Byrne ; foreword by Peter Cundall.
“This book follows the development of a small urban garden in Fremantle, Western Australia. Illustrated with technical diagrams, sketches and before-and-after photos, Small Space Organics charts a process for creating innovative, sustainable and stylish ways to incorporate organic food production into urban residential landscapes. It includes the latest research and techniques for permaculture, water conservation and propagation, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to create your own urban organic food garden.” (

Syndetics book coverGood companions : the mix & match guide to companion planting / Josie Jeffrey.
“The mix & match guide to companion planting Why sow seeds that arent happy sharing a bed when you can plan a harmonious garden instead? With its ingenious split-page, mix and match system, Good Companions offers an immediate guide to the friends and foes of the gardening world, ensuring you have all the tools you need to grow your most successful crop yet! How does companion planting work? Well, take just one well-known example squash, sweetcorn and beans. Together these three make a happy family: squash will shelter the beans roots, which in their turn will add beneficial nitrogen to the trios soil, while the strong-growing sweetcorn will support the beans as they grow. And there are dozens of other groups that are equally good for one another just flip the pages and match up the easy colour coding to plant up the happiest plot you can imagine.” (

Syndetics book coverGrow harvest cook : 280 recipes from the ground up / Meredith Kirton, Mandy Sinclair ; photographs by Sue Stubbs ; design by Susan Cadzow.
“Whether you have a small urban garden or are looking to establish a substantial kitchen garden for your home, Grow Harvest Cook is your indispensable companion, filled to the brim with all you need to know to grow, harvest and cook your own produce. It comes complete with practical gardening tips, the know how for successful harvesting, and simple, seasonal recipes for putting your home grown produce to delicious use. This gorgeous 400-page book takes the reader through over 80 types of produce – from apples to courgettes – providing simple information about growing conditions and harvesting tips, then moving on to recipes and ideas for using up your produce, including preserving, drying and freezing. Based on the blog of the same name, the authors and photographer of Grow Harvest Cook have reinvented the meaning of homemade and created a work that truly celebrates good, home grown food.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTerrariums reimagined : mini worlds made in creative containers / Kat Geiger.
“Add style, nature, and a touch of whimsy to your home with one-of-a-kind terrariums. Learn to design mini gardens in glass, stylish showpieces in unique containers, whether you are a novice or an expert.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to grow beautiful roses:a practical guide to growing, caring for and maintaining roses, shown in over 275 glorious photographs
“With its myriad hues, scents and shapes, the rose is the perfect companion to many plants in the garden, and will continue to give pleasure for many years. This book is a comprehensive guide to growing, maintaining and designing with the world¿s most enduring flower. It begins with a fascinating history of the rose, then provides instructions for planting and caring for roses in borders, as climbers, ramblers and standards, as well as how to grow ground-cover, miniature and container roses. A stunning gallery provides a selection of the most popular varieties available. For anyone who loves roses, this book is a treasure trove of information, advice and design ideas.” (Libary catalogue)

Syndetics book coverRx from the garden [electronic resource] : 101 food cures you can easily grow / Kathleen Barnes.
“Your backyard becomes an all-natural pharmacy! Colds. Headaches. Upset stomach, Allergy symptoms. Depression. Circulation problems. his timely book goes beyond using herbs as medicine; it also focuses on beneficial foods for more than 100 common ailments and shows you how to grow them. In that way, RX from the Garden lets you circumvent expensive meds with questionable side effects by explaining what foods to eat to help you feel better. In addition to aligning health problems with natural cures, this valuable resource provides step-by-step instruction on how to easily cultivate the corresponding vegetables and herbs in your lawn, garden, or flowerbed. According to Hippocrates, “Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.” Now you can reap health benefits for your very own backyard bounty.” (Library catalogue)

Those running little feet and me – Home and garden for family and kids.

Syndetics book coverI [love] my room : children’s rooms you and your children will love / made by Megan Morton, Jason Busch and Penny Shek.
“Kids’ bedrooms can be a series of challenges and charms from precious first drawings to piles of toys and dirty washing. I Love My Room showcases the charms and presents solutions for the challenges. Rather than a collection of immaculate children’s rooms created by interior designers, the pages are filled with spaces which celebrate the young occupants themselves. From whimsical nurseries to expressive teen rooms, you will find clever storage methods and inspiring ideas on how to decorate in a way that is true to your something-year-old’s personality.” (annotation courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSmall garden handbook : making the most of your outdoor space / Andrew Wilson ; special photography, Steven Wooster.
“Expert garden designer Andrew Wilson guides you through the process of planning, planting and maintaining a small garden that will make you happy every time you step outside.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe kitchen garden cookbook / Jeanne Kelley ; photographs Ray Kachatorian. “There are few things more rewarding than sitting down to enjoy a delicious meal made with items harvested right outside your back yard. This gorgeous kitchen gardening cookbook is filled with simple and inspiring recipes as well as practical, useful information for anyone interested in growing the foods they love to eat.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverGrowing up modern : 16 quilt projects for babies & kids / Allison Harris. “Allison Harris shows how beginner and expert sewists alike can make a child’s quilt that will be cherished for years to come. Growing Up Modern —16 Quilt Projects for Babies & Kids provides inspiration and guidance in 16 versatile keepsake projects. 7 of the patterns adapt to make crib- and twin-sized quilts. There’s a comprehensive overview on quiltmaking basics, step-by-step instructions, and vibrant photographs to help you from start to finish. For those who believe that quilting is impossible when you have kids, the author (and mother of 3) includes helpful hints on finding the time and keeping it fun.” (

Syndetics book coverBig ideas for small gardens: clever ways to enhance New Zealand outdoor spaces. “Big or small, a garden is an expression of your interests, personality and lifestyle. The smaller the garden, the easier it should be to convey this message. The aim of this book is to help small garden owners turn their outdoor spaces into beautiful, well-designed places that complement their lifestyle and reflect their own creative vision. Small gardens are no longer just about plants. Today they are places for dining, entertaining, bathing, exercising, playing games, even working. So whether you’re a dedicated plantaholic, a laid-back leisure lover or a more private and contemplative soul, your garden has to be a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Big Ideas for Small Gardens shows you how.” (

Syndetics book coverThe intelligent gardener : growing nutrient-dense food / Steve Solomon ; with Erica Reinheimer. “Because of intensive agriculture and the use of fertilizers, the food we consume today may have less than half of the vitamins and minerals than centuries ago. The Intelligent Gardener demystifies the process of re-mineralization while simultaneously debunking much of the false and misleading information perpetuated by both the conventional and organic agricultural movements. This practical step-by-step guide and the accompanying customizable web-based spreadsheets go beyond organic and are essential tools for any serious gardener who cares about the quality of the produce they grow.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverBring the outdoors in : garden projects for decorating and styling your home / Shane Powers with Jennifer Cegielski ; photographs by Gentl & Hyers.
“Probably everyone knows someone who’s a natural arranger. The question is whether that flair can be taught – “you can achieve a great look even if you aren’t a green thumb!” the book promises – by slavishly following instructions, even those in a profusely illustrated book. Powers, a stylist and former editor at Martha Stewart Living, clearly has a flair for arranging stunning combinations of containers and live, dried, or pressed plants. Undoubtedly, her ideas are inspirational, perhaps especially so to those who are already talented with lichens and moss. Among the 22 beautiful combinations are a colorful floral garland, a sophisticated braided willow wreath, and a revival of flower pockets, small holders made of fabric and designed to hang from doorknobs. Detailed care needs, which are demanding in some cases while low- to no-maintenance in others, complete the descriptions. An appendix lists sources. If you already have a vision, you’re good. If you aren’t an artiste, not so much.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverSlow flowers : four seasons of locally grown bouquets from the garden, meadow and farm / Debra Prinzing. “We’d all prefer fresh, fragrant flowers in our bouquets, but what to do in those seasons when not much is growing locally? Acclaimed garden writer Debra Prinzing challenged herself to create a beautiful, locally-grown bouquet for each of 52 weeks of one year (going beyond flowers to include ornamental twigs, foliage, greenhouse plants, dried pods, and more), to demonstrate that all four seasons have their own botanical character to be celebrated. She provides extensive design tips, bouquet “recipes” and region-by-region floral ingredient lists that can be found in all climate zones through the year. Slow Flowers is written from a DIY floral designer’s point of view, to inspire anyone to go green and make a beautiful bouquet with what’s at hand, no matter the season.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverChildren’s spaces : from zero to ten / Judith Wilson ; photography by Debi Treloar.
“A brilliant book for design-conscious parents and kids alike! Children’s Spaces helps you to plan all the practical aspects of children’s rooms and provides plenty of affordable ideas and inspiration when it comes to their design and decoration. Judith Wilson looks at rooms for children between birth and ten years old, with chapters on babies’ rooms, rooms for girls, rooms for boys, and shared bedrooms. There are also chapters on sensible storage and areas that children and adults share – bathrooms, play areas, eating areas and outside space. Children’s Spaces contains a wealth of inspiration drawn from the homes of real families, with real kids, which amply proves that children and great design can happily co-exist without compromising on style.”  (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverPlant breeding for the home gardener : how to create unique vegetables & flowers / Joseph Tychonievich.
“Creating new plant varieties sounds like an activity that should be carried out by botanists in sterile labs, but Tychonievich (nursery manager, Arrowhead Alpines) skillfully explains how anyone can develop new plants in a backyard garden. The book covers the history of plant breeding, plant genetics, breeding goals, evaluating and selecting plants, how to make a cross (i.e., cross breed or hybridize plants), and advanced plant-breeding techniques. The final chapter includes directions for breeding particular flowers and vegetables. Despite the specialized topic, the author has written an accessible, easy-to-read book, one that novice gardeners will be able to use to create tastier tomatoes or more fragrant carnations. Concepts, ideas, and steps are clearly described, and line illustrations are included where useful. Tychonievich also includes recommended readings, useful websites, and a list of plant sources. Verdict: New and seasoned gardeners will appreciate this nicely presented book. It could even spur caregivers or teachers to get kids into the garden, growing their very own varieties of vegetables..” (Adapted from Library Journal)

DIY for home and garden – our July picks!

It was dark, cold and scary on those storm days not so long ago in Wellington. The storm left us with broken fences, torn roofs, and loads of inconveniences. And with the recent earthquake knocking things off shelves, we thought it might be time to share with you some of the new Do-It-Yourself guides to fix and refresh your home and garden. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverThe complete guide to garden walls & fences : improve backyard environments, enhance privacy & enjoyment, define space & borders.
“Combining utility and aesthetics, garden fences, walls, and gates offer diverse options for marking home boundaries. Following an overview of the basics, step-by-step instructions are given for traditional and updated projects that involve working with wood, stone, concrete, brick, metal, bamboo, and even the “invisible” (i.e., an underground electronic pet fence). The guide includes a list of tools and materials for each project, repair instructions, color illustrations, measurement conversion charts, and resources” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVegetables and herbs for the greenhouse and polytunnel / Klaus Laitenberger.
“With our unpredictable weather, there’s never been a better time to cultivate vegetables under shelter. An experienced grower, Klaus Laitenberger shows how to use the heat and shelter of a greenhouse or polytunnel to maximise crop production and supply tasty, healthy food throughout the year. He gives full details of sowing, planting, spacing and harvesting for all our best-loved herbs and vegetables, as well as introducing exotic newcomers such as pepino and yacon.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverTrade secrets : fix your home like a pro! / The Reader’s Digest Association ; [writers, Peter Harris, Jane Hyde, Julia Richardson].
“This book provides a hands-on guide with clear instructions and close-up photos. Handy tips include how to fix your door that won’t shut, and how NOT to hammer your fingers. Once you get started, you can work your way to a pro: walls, ceilings, bathrooms, roofs, decks, furniture and even washing machines. Can’t wait to roll up the sleeves and get the house work done.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe good life : four glorious seasons in my country garden / Sarah O’Neil.
“Four glorious seasons in a Kiwi country garden: ‘Discovering how to be a country bumpkin and rub off some of that city-slicker shine has been an interesting journey with a lot of learning things the hard way and definitely a lot of laughter, hard work and a whole lot of fun. But the best part is we now have a flourishing veggie garden supplying most of our vegetable wants and needs. Life couldn’t be more perfect.'”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverGardening for geeks : DIY tests, gadgets, & techniques that utilize microbiology, mathematics, and ecology to exponentially maximize the yield of your garden / Christy Wilhelmi.
“With Gardening for Geeks, you’ll examine your ecosystem and discover how you can create the right environment for your plants. From analyzing meteorological patterns in order to plant productive beds to experimenting with the carbon and nitrogen levels in your soil, this book will teach you all about the developments and chemical reactions that occur at each phase of growth and how you can alter your planting techniques to construct the most thriving, productive garden possible. Each chapter also utilizes a wide range of inexpensive tests, gadgets, and methods that you can use to help evaluate, monitor, and enhance your plot. Complete with troubleshooting solutions and useful charts and graphs, Gardening for Geeks has everything you need to establish a beautiful and sustainable vegetable patch – one microclimate at a time!” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverDecorating with style : speedy tips, savvy tricks & cool ideas to transform your home / Abigail Ahern ; photography by Graham Atkins-Hughes.
“Forget perfection – Decorating with Style gives you the confidence to take risks with interior design, embrace what you love, and fill your home with infectiously fabulous stuff: comforting, inviting and imbued with personality. Decorating Abigail Ahern style is about creating spaces that make you happy – not just buying the latest ‘it’ chair. According to the internationally renowned interior designer, the most successful homes always have an element of the unexpected. Good taste is wonderful, but without a touch of eccentricity – some tension between spontaneity and rigour, refinement and rebellion – beautifully co-ordinated rooms can leave you cold. Proving that style has nothing to do with money and everything to do with confidence, Abigail goes back to basics to help you determine your own style, then demonstrates how to take interiors to the next level by mixing and layering different styles and eras; injecting intrigue into a room with some maximalist lighting or a decorative rug; playing around with scale, colour and texture to create an enchanting, idiosyncratic vibe. Packed with original ideas, beautiful photography, speedy updates and easy DIY projects – that transform affordable furniture and accessories into something you’d see in a designer showroom – this hip, hands-on guide offers all the tips, tricks and inspiration you need to create a stylish home. For style-conscious girls on a budget, interior design just got fun” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverWeeds, weeding (& Darwin) : the gardener’s guide / William Edmonds.
“Gardeners find weeds baffling and daunting. Here at last comes a practical guide which explains how weeds work and how best to deal with them. Whenever he is gardening William Edmonds sees Charles Darwin as his mentor. Informed by Darwin’s insights, and by over thirty years of gardening experience, he describes and illustrates one hundred significant garden weeds, in the order in which they have evolved, from Algae, Moss and Horsetail to Dandelion and Hawkweed. For each there is What To Do advice, and a further chapter sets out the pros and cons of twenty tried and tested approaches to weeding. Learning to recognise, understand and deal with each weed will take you well on the way to coping in a relaxed – even enjoyable – tussle with these devilish despoilers. Weeds, Weeding (& Darwin) is an enlightening guidebook for every gardener.” (Back cover)