First-rate books have been published recently about widely differing subjects: flower arranging and carnivorous plants.
"The Complete Flower Arranger - A Comprehensive Guide TO the Pleasures of Floral Design." is by Amalie Ascher (Simon and Schuster, 288 pages, $5.95 paperback). The author is a national award-winning exhibitor, judge and teacher, who has conducted a flower-arranging series on television.
Her book covers the entire field better and more thoroughly than most other books, the step-by-step directions are clear and easy to follow, the large number of illustrations, some in full color, nicely supplement the text.
There are directions also for using dried material, weatherhered wood, making arrangements of fruits and vegetables, for forcing cut branches into bloom in late winter, for growing flowers useful for arranging, and for setting the table, among others.
If you become engrossed in the book and suddenly look up, you may visualize the author wagging her finger at you, and if you don't, you can be sure she is, just the same. Her father is an inventor, holding more than 60 patents, her mother a flower arranger of considerable skill. The book indicates she has inherited talent from both, and has added to it.
"I still remember the first arrangement I made," she says. "Having more nerve than sense, I entered it in a flower show, although I had never worked with plant materials before. Uncoordinated, unsuited in style to any purpose, or in size to its location, my creation, of course, won no award, nor even merited sympathetic comment from my friends. But I didn't care.I had had even merited sympathetic comment from my friends. But I didn't care. I had hadeven merited sympathetic comment from my friends. But I didn't care. I had had even merited sympathetic comment from my friends. But I didn't care. I had had the fun of expressing myself through flowers so to me my work was beautiful.
"In essence, that is what arranging is all about. It is fascinating to study differences in form; to experiment with their interactions; to observe the effect of colors on each other; to discover the number of patterns that can be created with plant materials.
"In the process you become increasingly aware of your surroundings, sensitive to esthetic experiences, curiouss about relationships, perceptive of potential in form and color, and driven to give these new dimensions.
"Besides its practical benefits, floral designing offers personal dividends, It imparts a useful skill, and also brings self-satisfaction, relaxation, even recognition."
"Cultivating Carnivorous Plants - An Illustrated Guide to Growing, Propagating, and Studying Nature's Most Exotic Plants," by Allan A. Sweson (Doubleday, 160 pages, $7.95) contains fantastic reports from the jungles of the Amazon, the hidden valleys of Indonesia, and the dark heart of Africa. After 20 years of research, the author has concluded that some plants do thrive by eating animals and birds.