Review of Kiss My Aster by Amanda Thomsen


Every so often, a book comes along which challenges the limits of the media and shows how much is still possible with old-fashioned paper and ink. Amanda Thomsen’s new book Kiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You, is just such a book.

If you are in your 30s or 40s, you may remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books which let you personalize the story by skipping to a certain page if you wanted the protagonists to do X, or a different page if you wanted them to do Y.

Kiss My Aster uses a similar concept, and has that same spirited combination of breezy adventure, interactivity, and sheer fun.

Kiss My Aster Review (5)

Every page is covered in full color illustrations, humorous yet effective tips, and little asides such as “How to spot a phony landscape architect” (tip: if he’s wearing white or sports a fake mustache, you may have a phony on your hands!). Section headings such as “Shrubs: The Khaki Pants of the Landscape”, “Dropping Acid (or Alkalinity)”, and “Annual Means Always Having to Say Goodbye” set the tone for what’s to come.

Kiss My Aster Review (2)Kiss My Aster Review (3)

The humor, clever illustrations, and interactive format of this book are so special that it would be easy to overlook the caliber of the advice. Amanda is known for taking a witty, Gen X approach to gardening, yet she also has a rare ability of simplifying the complex. Her advice is to-the-point, easy-to-understand, and most importantly provides the exact types of information that new gardeners really want and need.

This would be the perfect book to give as a gift to someone who is just beginning to consider how they can turn their boring patch of lawn into a true garden masterpiece. Obviously, it’s not the only book a new gardener will need, because there are no photos with design ideas or planting schemes to try.

However, Kiss My Aster provides a thorough and encouraging framework for how to approach different kinds of landscaping projects, and grounds readers in the basics without putting them to sleep. This beautifully crafted book will become a well-worn and dog-eared addition to any new gardener’s library. (But don’t take my word for it – the book’s already got a number of very positive reviews from Amanda’s many fans!)

(Photos shown have been excerpted from Kiss My Aster (c) by Amanda Thomsen, illustrations (c) by Am I Collective, used with permission from Storey Publishing.)

28 responses to “Review of Kiss My Aster by Amanda Thomsen”

  1. This would be a perfect giift right now as I am getting into serious gardening!! Thank you for the book idea!!!

  2. I love the humor and illustrations in this book! Not intimidating and very user friendly!

  3. I NEED Amanda’s awesome book so she can give me the knowledge I need to stop killing ALL of my plants. I’m a PLANT MURDERER!… Don’t you judge me, I want to be a good gardener.

  4. I am a landscape designer and I must have this book… I am ashamed to tell people that I don’t yet have it… so I lie…. pssst… don’t tell anyone… slip me the book so I can stop my evil ways….

  5. Finally, a fun guide to landscape design! It’s absolutely inspiring – and I might even get myself a unicorn. Thanks for telling us about it.

  6. whatever i do, i enjoy laughing about it. check out Amanda’s hilarious podcast, what few episodes there are of ‘good enough gardening’. i am planting by Amanda’s advice my gladious: dig a hole and dump the corms in; if they do not grow that is not my problem.

  7. looks like a great book to sit and enjoy until all this rain has slowed down and the ‘floods’ have receded ….!!!

  8. As always, your review / commentary is as good as such a book. I was given a copy, and it was about the best combination of informative, inspiring, intelligent, clever and hilarity that I’ve seen on gardens. I should get a friend a copy, who is notorious for being particular…she might even love it!

  9. Looks great! I have a friend with a new home, as in just built, empty inside and out. He was over with a list of plants and asked which to use to screen his place from his neighbors’. We toured my yard and I talked pros and cons of each of the ones on his list.

    As a novice who is eager to learn, he really could use this book!! I promise to only flip through it before wrapping it up for him…

  10. Gardening is fun and Amanda’s book looks like it takes that fun to another level of funtastical. Want it. <3

  11. Ooh, that sounds like just the book I need! I’ve been rescuing neglected perennials in the house I bought for the last 2 seasons and am now ready to do some customizing to make the landscape my own.

  12. Wow, just what I need for my new one acre lot in Northern Nevada desert where “oh, weeds won’t grow here” and the lot is past horse property with lots of wide open (weedy) space to fill. If we ever get past our war inpouring weeds, that is!