Modern Daguerreotypes of Historic Garden Treasures
By Amy Goldman with Photographs Jerry Spagnoli
Bloomsbury | 192 pages | Retail $85.
Amy Goldman is the award-winning author of Melons for the Passionate Grower, The Compleat Squash, and The Heirloom Tomato, and a longtime champion of heirloom plants. In Heirloom Harvest, she takes her expertise and dedication a notch higher, collaborating with photographer Jerry Spagnoli to artfully document the unique world of heirlooms.
The book is anchored by Goldman’s personal account of her 25-year journey restoring an historic house and the surrounding 200-acre farm in Dutchess County, New York. As her gardening experience grew, so did her love affair with heirlooms and her determination to preserve the genetic and cultural diversity they represent.
Along the way she embarked on a 15-year collaboration with Spagnoli, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of daguerreotype photography. The daguerreotype process produces ethereal images with a silvery, luminous depth. Their timeless beauty seems uniquely suited for documenting the rich diversity of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and herbs. “What better way to pay homage to heirloom plants than to marry them to the most heirloom of heirloom photography?” Goldman writes.
An afterword written by M Mark, founding editor of the Village Voice Literary Supplement, documents Spagnoli’s thoughts on the origin of his collaboration with Goldman, the process of documenting her garden over time, and the challenges of daguerreotype photography. And a useful appendix matches common and scientific names for the plants shown in the book.
“Heirloom Harvest is an act of preservation and a way of honoring the diversity, and history in the face of pressure not to garden, not to save seeds,” writes Goldman. This book is a sumptuous treasure of visual magic, that will change your perspective on the beauty of seeds and plants, and the power to transform something simple and every day, into magnificent.
Review written for The American Gardener, a magazine published by the American Horticulture Society. Ellen Ecker Ogden is the author of The Complete Kitchen Garden ( Stewart, Tabori and Chang 2011) featuring theme designs and recipes for cooks who garden. www.ellenogden.com