Kiss My Aster

A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You

Author: Amanda Thomsen

Pictures: Am I Collective and Bernstein & Andriulli

Review: Jean-Ann Van Krevelen

We think

Alright, let’s get this out of the way…this is a biased review. I thought Amanda Thomsen was a brilliant and bizarrely wonderful designer before I ever read this book. In addition, I like funny gardening books…of which there is exactly one. This one. If you already agree with me, skip to the last paragraph. If not, continue on…

Kiss My Aster’s Guide is a choose-your-own-ending landscaping book with enough meat to it that those who fancy ourselves to be “advanced” will learn a thing or two. Thomsen imbues it with her camp and off-kilter sense of humour, leading to a book that is one part  Rocky Horror Picture Show, one part landscaping and one part Highlights. The only thing that would improve on such a mixture would be the addition of a “scratch and sniff” feature.

In addition to the super-flexible reading format, Thomsen adds information to help the reader decide whether or not to hire a contractor to complete a task. This is particularly helpful for those who consider themselves amateur arborists or those of us who are chronically lazy. While waiting for said contractor to arrive, I suggest giving the games in the middle of the book a go: there’s Landscape Bingo, a scavenger hunt, and the totally engrossing Word Find. Oh, and if you are looking for an easy “A”, be sure to take the Sustainability Quiz.

We love

Though my favorite parts of the book are the humorous illustrations and unique format, I love that it also fully embraces the quirkiness of the author’s aesthetic. Thomsen hasn’t written a highbrow book with complicated, geometry-laden designs.

The plant materials and layouts are accessible and easy to accomplish. What she has done is make it all sound so freaking fun that I can’t imagine why I haven’t seen gardening this way before now. And I’ve been gardening for a long time. But I suspect that is her intent…to pull in an old hand like me, as well as ensnare a new generation of would-be gardeners.

I am in love with this book. Amanda Thomsen is the first brave soul to step outside of the old school garden writing and publishing model. She’s challenged the status quo like the punk rock gardener that she is (I’d love to work in a Sid Vicious metaphor here, but my brain is tired) and she’s done it in such a way that it’s easy to join her in her garden revolution.