Wicked Plants

Wicked Plants: The Case of the Missing Index

WickedplantssmI regularly hear from readers who want to know why Wicked Plants doesn't have an index.  It was a mistake, I tell them.  But it's hard to understand how an index could be accidentally left out of a book unless you understand how the production process works.

Once the manuscript is finished, edited, and ready to go to copyediting, a checklist gets filled out.  That checklist covers any number of production issues still to be dealt with.  One of the items on that checklist is the index.  If the book is supposed to include an index, then someone reads the checklist, hires a professional indexer, and an index gets made and turned in before the book goes to the printer.

In my case, there was some kind of glitch in that system.  The checklist definitely specified that an index should be included, but somehow that got missed and the index never got ordered. By the time I realized that there was no index forthcoming, it was too late to do anything about it. And there was no way to add it later without having to repaginate the book and possibly raise the price.  So there is no index.

I have never heard the end of it.  And you can be sure that I checked, double-checked, and triple-checked to make sure that Wicked Bugs contained an index!

This has been so frustrating to my readers that one of them actually posted an index she made herself as an Amazon review. But recently, something even more extraordinary happened.  An actual professional indexer, Laura Dodd, walked into my bookstore one day and handed me a complete, extremely detailed, beautifully formatted index that she made for practice.  It's even formatted to the exact page size of the book.

And now she's making it available to you. 

So if you find it frustrating that Wicked Plants has no index, I've got your answer right here.  Just head over to Laura's site and download the index in your choice of formats.

And if you're in the market for indexing, editing, or proofreading services, I hope you'll consider getting in touch with Laura at Redwood Coast Indexing, who is clearly devoted to her craft.


Wicked Plants in the Conservatory with RadioGarden

Andrew Keys invited the staff at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers to create a RadioGarden podcast about the making of the Wicked Plants exhibit.  He assured us that any ordinary audio recorder would work; in fact, he's done interviews on his iPhone.  So, equipped with exactly that sort of technology, curator Lau Hodges and I settled in to do our interview the afternoon before the opening night gala.

Except.  Andrew Roth, the extraordinarily creative sound engineer who designed the sound effects for the exhibit, was sitting quietly in the corner, fine-tuning his audio creation. When he saw me pull out my cheap Radio Shack digital recorder, he could remain silent no longer.

"Uh–would you like me to record this interview for you?" he asked.

We both looked over at him in amazement. 

"I am the sound guy, after all," he said.

Oh, yeah!  So after a little scrambling around, Andrew got us wired up and we sat down behind this gate and started recording with his much nicer equipment:

Interview spot

AND–after Lau and I were done, Andrew sat down and talked about how he created the sound effects.  And that is my FAVORITE part of the interview.  Everyone on staff learned something–none of us had any idea what went into creating sounds that go along with a garden of poisonous plants. (his part starts around minute 16)

How does a plant sound?   How does fear sound? Tune in and find out.

Wicked Plants: The Exhibit

Desk skull

My own poison garden (above) is nothing compared to what the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers has planned this summer.  Their Wicked Plants exhibit opens in April and runs through October, and while I won't see it unveiled for a few months, I've managed to coax a few hints out of them and trust me, it's going to be AMAZING. (Hint:  There will be murder and intrigue!)

The Conservatory is offering a special deal to garden clubs, Master Gardener groups, and other such groups who may want to tour the exhibit together this year.  Here are the details:

Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins runs from April 7 to October 30, 2011. 

Groups ranging in size from 10 to 40* are invited to contact Guest Services Manager Michelle Manzer at 415-225-2899 or email hidden; JavaScript is required to reserve a 45-minute private tour by Conservatory docents including all 5 galleries and Wicked PlantsGroup rates are $3 per person (a significant discount from the regular $7 per person fee!), and, for garden clubs and Master Gardener groups, every attendee will receive a free packet of seeds from the Botanical Interests Wicked Plants Seed Collection. *Larger groups may be permitted by the Conservatory; groups over 40 people will need to stagger tours over a two hour period.

In addition, Master Gardeners and Garden Club members will receive 15% off tickets to the following events:

May 4 – “Mischief and Mayhem in the Garden” Lecture & Book signing with Rosemary Harris, author of Dead Head, Slug Fest, and the other titles in the Dirty Business Mystery series

Doors 5:30 pm, Lecture 6-7 pm, Q&A/Book Signing 7-7:30 pm • Tickets are $5/Free to Conservatory of Flowers Members

Harris will walk us through the history of the garden, through the lens of mischief and mayhem, beginning with Adam and Eve, and leading to her modern day Dirty Business Mystery sleuths.  She’ll also discuss the dirty business of writing, and what led her into the garden to find her stories.    

June 1 – “Wicked Plants” Lecture & Book Signing with author Amy Stewart

Doors 6:30pm, Lecture 7-8 pm, Book Signing to follow • Tickets are $10/$7 for Conservatory of Flowers Members

I’ll present my research for Wicked Plants through a talk and slideshow, identifying the rogues of the plant world featured in the Conservatory’s exhibit.

October 6 – “Wicked Bugs” Lecture & Book Signing with author Amy Stewart  

Doors 6:30pm, Lecture 7-8 pm, Book Signing to follow • Tickets are $10/$7 for Conservatory of Flowers Members

I’ll present a lecture on the subject of my new book – Wicked Bugs – introducing you to the miniscule villains that have spread disease, inflicted pain and suffering, caused destruction on a large scale, and changed the course of civilization.  

All events are held at the Conservatory of Flowers.  Tickets to these events are available online at www.conservatoryofflowers.org/events/specialevents or at the door.  For more information, to receive your 15% discount, or to arrange for your group to attend one of these event, preceded or followed by a personal tour, please contact Guest Services Manager Michelle Manzer at 415-225-2899 or email hidden; JavaScript is required.      



Wicked Plants: The Seed Collection


As some of you know, I planted a poison garden while I was working on Wicked Plants.  I'd never grown, much less seen, some of the plants in the book, and it's just too weird to write about plants you don't know. So I managed to come up with about 35 species that I could actually grow in my climate, in a small secluded garden, without inflicting too much harm on anyone (poison oak, for instance, was not invited.)

And you know what?  Some of those plants were very pretty.  Castor bean!  Datura!  Opium poppy!  Foxglove!  Tobacco!  Lovely, really.  Not suitable as an entree, but lovely nonetheless.

So imagine my excitement when Botanical Interests offered to put those very plants together in a Wicked Plants seed collection. The impetus for this is the upcoming Wicked Plants exhibit at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers–more about that in the coming months–this gives them a little something extra to sell in the gift shop and support their fine work.

(Botanical Interests, by the way, does a lot to support the fine work of botanical gardens. Have you seen their Botanic Garden Series in partnership with Denver Botanic Gardens?)



Seed collection


So.  Here, just in time for your last-minute holiday shopping:  the Wicked Plants Seed Collection.  Here's what you get:  Datura meteloides, foxglove 'Gloxiniiflora' blend, Nicotiana sylvestris, two poppies (Double Peony and Hungarian Blue), and a castor bean 'Impala'.

Seed collection2

Oh, and let me just add–I'm not making money off this; I was just happy to see it happen so that the Conservatory would have a revenue-generator for their gift shop next year. If Botanical Interests does well with it, all the better.  And if you happen to know a shop that would like to carry the collection, have them contact Botanical Interests and make it so.

Wicked Plants in Tucson

The Tucson Botanical Gardens has taken this Wicked Plants thing one step further and created not only an exhibit, but a character named Dr. Ergot Ratbane and a mad scientist laboratory.  How's that for a good gig–playing a mad scientist at a botanical garden?

Meet Dr. Ratbane here, and go check out the exhibit if you're in the area.  I haven't seen it myself, but I'll be there March 11.  The exhibit runs through April.



London Book Tour Dates

It's coming!  The UK edition of Wicked Plants will be out in September from Timber UK, and in October I'll head to London for a book tour.  Check my site for full details as I have them, but here's the schedule as it stands:

Sat Oct 23 – Petersham Nurseries, Surrey

Tues Oct 26 – The Eden Project, Cornwall

Thurs Oct 28 – Chelsea Physic Garden

Thurs Oct 28- London Review Bookshop

Fri Oct 29 – Kew Gardens

Fri Oct 29 – Queens Park Books

Sat Oct 30 – The Garden Museum

Sun Oct 31 – RHS Wisley

Email Newsletter: Have a Wicked Holiday!

(Note–this is the email blast that goes out to my newsletter.  If you're reading this blog, you've probably heard all this before!  Regardless, if you'd like to sign up for the mailing list, here's where you go to do that.)

Hello all,

I am ending 2009 at home–at last!  By the time I hit the road again in January, I will have had two glorious months at home.  Good thing, too, because my next book is due in the spring and I needed a little quiet time to get it done!

More about that next year.  Meanwhile, here's a bit of good news:  Wicked Plants is up for Best Cover of the Year on Amazon.com.  I'm so happy to see the designer, Alvaro Villanueva, get a little credit for this great design.  If you'd like to vote, click the link here–and tell your friends, if you're so inclined. Voting ends Dec. 17

Looking ahead to 2010, I've got events lined up in (deep breath!) Los Angeles, San Diego, Memphis, Palm Beach, Kansas City, Lincoln, NE, Redlands, CA, Austin, and throughout the Bay Area.  If you're in any of those places, check the Events page for details. 

I'm also looking at possible events in Chicago, New York, Anchorage, and England, so stay tuned.  Or get in touch if you want to cook something up.

Oh, and I wanted to share the dressed-up holiday version of Wicked Plants, which arrived by mail recently:

Wicked plants holiday 

In the publishing trade, this is called a "belly band"–it's a little wrap-around thingy that sort of jazzes up the book for a special occasion.  Which reminds me–if you'd like an inscribed copy of any of my books to give as a gift this year, it's not too late.  Go here to order directly from our bookstore, and if you choose "standard shipping" we'll upgrade it to Priority Mail for free during the holidays in the hopes of getting it there in time.  (Note–we don't have any of these cheery "belly band" copies in the bookstore, so if that's important to you, check with your local independent bookstore instead.)

Oh, and speaking of buying stuff this holiday season, I'm very honored to be part of this group of local painters called Lost Coast Daily Painters.  We each take turns posting a small painting online every day (my day is Tuesday), and now we've started to put our art on notecards, calendars, mugs, etc. at Zazzle.com.  I mention this now because today only they are offering a bunch of special deals, including $9 off calendars and 50% off notecards when you buy 10 or more.  Here's the discount code:  12DEALZAZZLE.

That's it for now, folks.  As always, you can find me on GardenRant, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  Have a peaceful holiday season!


Cake Boss, Botany of Desire, and Local Flowers

Wow!  It's been a big week, TV-wise.  Here's what we've got:

On TLC's hit show Cake Boss, watch Buddy & co make a cake based on Wicked Plants.  They brought it to me at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this summer.  You can see the full episode here.

Then, check out the PBS documentary of Botany of Desire. I was interviewed for the tulip segment.

And it makes me so happy to see this bonus feature devoted entirely to Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Company, the florist I interviewed for Flower Confidential. Beautiful footage of her garden and shop!