Recent Home, Garden & DIY picks for Christmas

Get some inspiration for home decoration and DIYs for this Christmas. And Reindeer’s Christmas Surprise is a perfect book for  children for our summer Christmas!

Syndetics book coverThe Christmas table / editorial & food director, Pamela Clark.
“Planning the Christmas Day feast is an enjoyable thing to do each year for either a small or a large gathering of friends and family. This book showcases ways of organising the perfect menu, with many fabulous recipes to choose from. Also, there are beautiful but simple suggestions for decorating the Christmas table with bothmodern and traditional themes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChristmas stockings / Rachael Rowe.
“Talented designer and expert sewer, Rachael Rowe has created twenty Christmas stockings for you to make, in a wide variety of styles: shabby chic, country style, modern and sophisticated, traditional and more. The techniques required are all shown with step by step photographs at the beginning, then each project has full step by step instructions and selected step photographs, with beautiful styled photographs of the finished stockings. All the templates needed are provided.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChristmas joys : decorating, crafts & recipes.
Make this Christmas the best and brightest yet, with hundreds of gorgeous decorating ideas and delicious recipes. Very merry decorating, Holiday house tours; Deck your halls: trees, garlands, wreaths & mantels — Wonderful gifts to make. Handmade gifts from the heart; Hommaded gifts from the kitchen; Wrap it up! Good things come in pretty packages — Recipes for celebrations. Holiday cheer: four festive party ideas; Starters, entrees, and sides: best-ever holiday dineer recipes; Sweet! Cakes, pies, cookies, and more (Library Catalogue).

Syndetics book coverReindeer’s Christmas Surprise [hardback]
“This distinctly Australian Christmas story about the joy of giving and the importance of family was created by the highly acclaimed picture book team of Ursula Dubosarsky and Sue deGennaro.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover‘Tis the season to be felt-y / Kathy Sheldon with Amanda Carestio.
“Fa la la la . . . MORE! Crafters couldn’t get enough of the adorable projects in Fa la la la Felt , so here are over 40 new whimsical felt crafts to celebrate Christmas with handmade style. Many of the same awesomely talented designers (and several new ones!) have returned to create pretty ornaments like Beaded Star Baubles, Sparkly Icicles, a Shining Star Tree Topper (and a partridge in a pear tree) to a pink poinsettia wreath, Yule log, snow bunny tree skirt, and lots of stockings to hang by the chimney with care; these holiday items will make your season merry and bright.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHandmade Christmas : over 35 step-by-step projects and inspirational ideas for the festive season.
“Make the festive season really special by making your own cards, gifts and decorations: from papercutting and collage to embroidery and sugar crafting–with projects which take inspiration from different cultures and festive traditions.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Recent Home, Garden & DIY picks for October

Spring is slowly on its way. This month’s gardening books highlight inspirational ideas across the world and DIY projects that are fun and practical.

Image from FishpondDIY garden projects : step-by-step activities for edible gardening and backyard fun / Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon.
“Practical projects for small-space edible gardening and backyard fun from the much-loved Little Veggie Patch co. The book has 6 chapters – Kids, Recycled/Upcyled, X-Factor, Vertical Gardening, Gardening basics and Kitchen. There are 38 projects, and each chapter includes a break-out patch favourite feature project.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe crafted garden : stylish projects inspired by nature / Louise Curley ; photography by Jason Ingram.
The Crafted Garden is the second book by exceptional new talent, Louise Curley, who shares her passion for natural garden craft with a wider audience. These fifty novel and attractive projects and techniques will give everyone a chance to feel clever about their creativity, as they transform twigs, sprigs, berries and stems into baubles, bunches, decorations and works of art. These are projects for indoors and out, arranged by the season, with galleries of projects to inspire, step by steps projects to copy and technique masterclasses to help readers develop their own skills.” (

Syndetics book coverGardens in France / edited by Angelika Taschen.
“From stylized Zen gardens in Provence to cactus displays on the Cote d’Azur, from classical palace gardens to quaint domestic beds, travel round the most beautiful gardens in France, home to some of the most elegant, charming, and inspiring horticulture in the world. The typical plants of each climatic region are represented–delphiniums, roses and irises in the North, and Californian poppies, santolinas, and lavender in the Midi. With pictures through every season, celebrate the particular beauty of spring, summer, fall, and winter, and discover plenty of inspiring ideas for your own garden.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverKyoto gardens : masterworks of the Japanese gardener’s art / text by Judith Clancy ; photography by Ben Simmons.
Kyoto Gardens is a labor of love from master photographer Ben Simmons and Kyoto-based writer Judith Clancy. Simmons’ photographs present a fresh and contemporary look at Kyoto’s most important gardens. Their beauty is enhanced and humanized by gardeners tending the grounds using the tools of their art. Clancy’s graceful text provides historic, aesthetic and cultural context to the gardens. Combining wonder and rigor, she describes how Kyoto’s most beloved gardens remain faithful to their founders’ creative spirit and conception.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Private Gardens of England [hardback]
The Private Gardens of England is a glorious celebration of the art of gardening through some of the country’s hidden horticultural jewels. Thirty-five English private gardens, thoughtfully selected by the writer and designer Tania Compton, are vividly described in the words of their owners, who bring an astonishing sense of intimacy to their own creations as well as their collaborations with some of the leading garden designers of today. From the Bannermans’ romantic Cornish castle to the windswept shores of Howick in Northumberland via Jasper Conran in Somerset and Tom Stuart-Smith in Hertfordshire, an eclectic range of gardens is revealed. From the private walled garden at Petworth to the wildflower-strewn meadows of Spye Park, each garden is a testament to the thriving art of English gardening.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOutstanding American Gardens : A Celebration: 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy
“The Garden Conservancy is celebrating its 25th anniversary with this beautifully illustrated book that documents a selection of the outstanding public and private gardens it has worked with since its founding in 1989. The book showcases eight gardens the conservancy has helped preserve and 43 of the more than 3,000 private gardens across the country that have been opened to the public through its Open Days Program. The private gardens cover a wide variety of regions, habitats, designs, and plants, from early spring through autumn.” (Syndetics summary)

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)

Enjoy your garden all year round: Home, Garden and DIY June

This month’s blog features tips on enhancing outdoor space, growing flowers all year round, and entertaining the children outdoors.

Syndetics book coverThe cut flower patch : grow your own cut flowers all year round / by Louise Curley.
“Louise Curley looks at what makes a great cut flower, ideal conditions and soil and the tools you’ll need. There is advice on what to grow – from favourite hardy annuals, half hardies and biennials to spring and summer bulbs to adding foliage and fillers to balance arrangements – and advice on how and when to sow, how to support your plants and tips on weeding, deadheading, pests and feeding.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe nourished kitchen : farm-to-table recipes for the traditional foods lifestyle : featuring bone broths, fermented vegetables, grass-fed meats, wholesome fats, raw dairy, and kombuchas / Jennifer McGruther.
“Following the precepts of dentist-nutritionist Weston Price, McGruther has developed a system for healthy eating based on lots of vegetables and grains as cooked and preserved on early twentieth-century American farms. What differentiates McGruther’s approach from other regimens is her unabashed advocacy of animal fats. She is especially fond of cooking foods in lard, noting its fat-content profile’s similarity to that of olive oil. When sweetness is an object, McGruther suggests replacing refined sugar with honey, molasses, sorghum, or maple syrup. Bread recipes specify ancient grains such as einkorn, and leavening comes from sourdough. She favors making one’s own butter when possible, and she recommends drinking that by-product of churning: buttermilk. Her meat dishes will satisfy carnivores, whether with a rich rabbit pie studded with bacon and chanterelles or with a rare-roasted elk steak. McGruther advocates sustainable agriculture, and she enthusiastically preserves summer’s bounty through fermentation for pickles, sauerkraut, and relishes.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverPlantiful : start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow, and overwinter / Kristin Green.
“Green (interpretive horticulturist, Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum) wants readers to overcome anxiety about fast-spreading plants so they can creatively take advantage of them to save time and money. She encourages the opportunistic use of 50 self-sowers, 50 spreaders, and 50 tender plants that can extend the season or successfully winter over, but she wisely tempers her enthusiasm for such plants with appropriate cautions about invasive species and implores people to engage with their plants and gardens conscientiously. While she recommends self-sowers, Green empowers the gardener to “edit” them as necessary to create more pleasing combinations. Further, she teaches seed saving and propagation methods so gardeners can feel in control. Beginners will benefit from tips such as creating a photo directory of seedlings for future reference. Green is also a skilled photographer: her book is more beautifully illustrated than Sue Fisher’s Fast Plants (although Fisher’s includes specific notes on controlling growth for recommended plants). Verdict? Gardeners who enjoy a bargain will want Green’s book to begin cashing in on nature’s generosity.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book cover101 things for kids to do outside / Dawn Isaac ; photography by Will Heap.
“Because it’s about time you stopped staring at that screen and had a go at racing snails, playing human croquet, brewing potions, planting wigwams, setting traps, weaving nests, autographing pumpkins, hunting bears, making twig stars, building snow lanterns (and 91 more totally brilliant ideas that just won’t fit on the back cover.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverKitchen stitches : sewing projects to spice up your home / compiled by Karen M. Burns.
“Brighten your kitchen and dining area with delightful projects from a host of talented designers. For sewists of all skill levels, this value-packed volume offers an extraordinary variety of styles, including quilted, appliquéd, and embroidered designs. Create everything from aprons to table runners, towel sets, casserole covers, place mats and more.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHandmade for the garden : 75 ingenious ways to enhance your outdoor space with DIY tools, pots, supports, embellishments & more / Susan Guagliumi ; photographs by John Gruen ; photostyling by Raina Kattelson ; illustrations by Sun Young Park.
“Guagliumi, author of many books on knitting (Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters), takes a trip to the garden with this lovely book. Chapters are arranged to follow the gardening year. Early season projects involve making newspaper cups for seedlings, seed tapes, coverings, and planting tools. Some sections are weak-the one on painting and altering terra cotta pots is a little less adventurous, and the part about making concrete containers and building plant supports lacks needed detail-while other sections shine (the areas devoted to making sieves, garden baskets, and gift seed packages are quite well done). Step-by-step illustrations are only sporadically provided, though instructions are well written. A better choice for readers learning to make concrete containers is Sherri Warner Hunter’s Creative Concrete Ornaments for the Garden: Making Pots, Planters, Birdbaths, Sculptures & More; those seeking information on plant supports and related structures would be best served by Trellises, Planters & Raised Beds: 50 Easy, Unique, and Useful Projects You Can Make with Common Tools and Materials. Verdict? Despite some flaws, this pretty, fresh work would round out any garden project collection. Recommended.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe urban house : townhouses, apartments, lofts, and other spaces for city living / Ron Broadhurst ; foreword by Richard Meier.
An authoritative volume on the most innovative new residential design in cities around the globe. This carefully curated book presents twenty-five new and recent spaces for city living. Author Ron Broadhurst has selected projects that represent a set of ideas that can be described as belonging particularly to our time and which will shape how we think of living in the city in the future. Where the great experimenters of the last century were stripping away ornamentation and creating free-flowing spaces for the first time, today’s innovators are pioneering research in the potential of new materials for both formal invention and environmental sustainability and creating bold and sophisticated essays in the adaptive reuse of spaces originally designed for other purposes. With the newest work from such design luminaries as Andrée Putman, Annabelle Selldorf, and Richard Meier, as well as emergent talents like Barbara Bestor and Messana O’Rorke, The Urban House is a uniquely coherent volume on the best in new residential design.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverForest feast : simple vegetarian recipes from my cabin in the woods / Erin Gleeson.
“Erin Gleeson made her dream a reality when she left New York City and moved into a tiny cabin in a California forest in order to be closer to nature. The natural beauty of her surroundings and the abundance of local produce serve as the inspiration for The Forest Feast, based on her popular blog. Most of the book’s 100 wholly vegetarian recipes call for only three or four ingredients and require very few steps, resulting in dishes that are fresh, wholesome, delicious, and stunning. Among the delightful recipes are eggplant tacos with brie and cilantro, rosemary shortbread, and blackberry negroni. Vibrant photographs, complemented by Erin’s own fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering, showcase the rustic simplicity of the dishes. Part cookbook, part art book, The Forest Feast will be as comfortable in the kitchen as on the coffee table.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA woman’s shed : spaces for women to create, write, make, grow, think, and escape / Gill Heriz ; with photography by Nicolette Hallett.
“Every woman deserves a shed of her own, somewhere to retreat to for some quiet time, to create or grow, to write or paint, or just to contemplate the view. Gill Heriz has interviewed over 80 different women, and Nicolette Hallett has photographed their sheds inside and out, to collect together this unique insight into why women have sheds, and what they do in them. Virginia Woolf once argued that, for women, writing fiction required a room of one’s own. These women have taken that premise a step further – to the end of the garden – to find their own very personal space.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCompost : how to make and use organic compost to transform your garden / Clare Foster.
“Composting is one of the most fundamental aspects of gardening. Clare Foster shows you how easy and natural it is to feed your soil with your household and garden rubbish.” (Library catalogue)

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)