Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Savage Garden: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants by Peter D'Amato

Audrey Junior of the Little Shop of Horrors was described as, “A cross between a butterwort and a Venus fly-trap.” If you are like me, you know what a Venus flytrap is but have no idea about butterworts. But, if you are like me, you are intrigued by the idea of plants that turn the tables on insects and other small critters.

D'Amato is in the nursery business specializing in carnivorous plants or CPs and this revised edition is intended as a guide to the gardening hobbyist. Carnivorous plants are hungry because they evolved to live in places lacking essential nutrients, which makes their cultivation more difficult and painstaking. I don't plan to work that hard, but that didn't diminish the pleasure of this beautifully illustrated book and its knowledgeable author's humor.

Besides the Venus flytrap, sundews, and pitcher plants, D'Amato introduces dewy pines, rainbow plants, bladderworts, and “Other Savage Plants from the Demented Mind of Mother Nature.” These plants are both engineering and chemical marvels, and D'Amato takes a certain delight in recounting the death throes of their victims.

If you think you might like to raise one of these interesting plants, The Savage Garden will be a good starting place. Some have lovely flowers, many have attractive foliage, and then there are those with fangs, or blood-red lips, or the ability to move. There are even some that D'Amato calls “crapivorous” because they have a relationship with an animal that eats the bugs the plant catches and then feeds the plant with feces.

While there are a slew of children's books in the catalog with fascinating pictures, the only other book for adults on the topic is the older Carnivorous Plants by Tony Camilleri.

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