It’s time for Thanksgiving! What plant-y things are you most thankful for this year? In this episode, we talk about our favorites from “A to Z,” this month’s theme.
To start out, I talk to the staff at Fine Gardening about the plant-related thing they most appreciate, and later, with Ray Rogers, American editor of the American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants.
First published in 1997, the “A to Z,” as it’s known, was and is one of the biggest, most information-packed books in garden references. Weighing in at over 9 pounds, it includes information and photos of around 15,000 plants, on 1,092 pages, in approximately 1.2 million words.
Rogers discusses the fact that, because of its magnitude, the book’s production really was a grassroots effort. “The idea was that we wanted to make this book as North American-suitable as possible, which meant that we had to go out to dozens and dozens of plant societies and other individuals who might be able to speak up on [plants] that weren’t covered,” he explains. “I like to look at it as almost a caterpillar turned into a butterfly. It had to be done from the inside out to make it suitable for North America, and that took time.”
Rogers goes on to talk about the experience of printing such a big book in the late ’90’s (hint: without the internet, access to rudimentary email, 10 days of non-stop printing and one cry of, “Stop the presses!”), and what he thinks the book would look like if he had it to do today (“It wouldn’t be a book,” he says.”)
Read more from Ray Rogers in Garden Confidential on the back page of the Jan./Feb. issue of Fine Gardening. For more information on the American Horticultural Society and its books, visit the AHS web site.