Reading list: our new favourite books

Green by Jason Chongue (Hardie Grant, $37)
Move over, yoga — thanks to the patience and practice it requires, many urbanites are turning to gardening as a remedy to the rush, rush, rush. Nothing makes you feel more grounded than actually putting your hands in the dirt and, just like tree pose, helping plants to flourish isn’t as tricky as it looks. Melbourne founder of The Plant Society Jason Chongue notes that with space at a premium in our cities and homes, man-made is often prioritised over nature, but says you don’t need a backyard to own plants that bring you daily joy. Every page of his guide to growing greenery in smaller homes and offices is inspirational and informative, but it’s chapters four and five that will carry you through, with their solid advice and casualty-preventing suggestions. Jason has 400-plus thriving plants at his place, so you can take his words for it. 

MAIN IMAGE Choose plants with textures and growth habits that relate to the design elements in your home. TOP Styling aids can let plants breathe visually, while raising them up to their optimal light conditions. ABOVE Potted gardens are about balance, achieved here with a mix of short and tall plants. Photography by Armelle Habib. 

The Essence (Gestalten, $120)
What do Hollywood, the internet and the climate crisis smell like? How does our olfactory system even work, what’s involved in the creation of perfume and where does the civet cat come in? So many crucial questions are answered in this meticulously researched read. Making sense of the mysterious power of fragrance, it examines science, history and culture to shed light on aromas’ visceral allure. Like the captivating whiff of an indelible moment past, it’s so absorbing, it’ll stop you in your tracks.

Inspired by Nature by Hans Blomquist (Ryland Peters & Small, $50)
Swedish art director and interior stylist Hans began his career at Ikea but today is in hot demand globally for his wild and wonderfully rustic aesthetic that’s the antithesis of ‘catalogue’. The garden of his childhood home backed onto a forest and instilled in him the deep love of nature that’s become a signature of his work. Here, he instructs how to infuse our houses with charm using items as accessible as dried grass.

The Home Upgrade (Gestalten, $65)
It takes imagination to renovate and can often be easier to start anew, but the rewards of reviving lovely bones are immense. The intriguing projects in this book take us around the world to former thises and thats converted into current masterpieces. They’ll open your mind to the architectural potential that lies within almost everything.

Words Philippa Prentice

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