The Star-Nosed Mole

The Star-Nosed Mole

An Anthology of Scented Garden Writing

Scent Magic author Isabel Bannerman's selection of favourite pieces evoking the scent of plants, stunningly illustrated with her unique botanical photographs

After publishing Scent Magican acclaimed memoir of plants, gardens and scent, Isabel Bannerman couldn’t leave the subject alone. ‘I came across the star-nosed mole, an adorable and preposterous creature with a highly specialized sensory-motor organ, while writing about the riches of the soil kingdom … and, somewhat mole-like … as I was trying to write about the impossibility of writing effectively about smell, I began to nose around for great writers’ solutions to this problem. How and how much have writers considered the lilies of the field and how they smell. I began grazing on literature and gathering in my stores of quotes.’

In reviews of Scent Magic, Isabel was lauded for ‘putting into words what so much escapes language. With a wonderful range of reference and allusion, it's nothing less than poetry... (Evening Standard)’. And in this anthology, with her beautifully written linking passages bringing carefully chosen quotations together with her dramatic, powerful and mysterious plant images, she evokes the scented garden through poetry and prose spanning millennia, from Ovid to Proust, Milton to George Eliot, and Emily Dickinson to Alice Oswald.

Garden designer Isabel Bannerman and her husband, Julian, have won Gold Medals at Chelsea and designed gardens for a wide range of people, including HRH The Prince of Wales and many clients from the worlds of fashion and film. They also designed the British 9/11 Memorial Garden in New York. Isabel has always taken photographs and she began making her particular style of botanical scans in 2003. She has had four solo shows of her work, which is in collections including those of of Jasper Conran and Richard E. Grant. She wrote and photographed Landscape Of Dreams (Pimpernel Press, 2016), describing fourteen of the many gardens the Bannermans have created. Her second book, Scent Magic, was published by Pimpernel Press in 2019.

"Looking for a present for a bookish garden-lover? The Star-Nosed Mole evokes the joys of a scented garden through exquisite poetry, prose and pictures."

Country Living

"It's the author's own nose for telling detail that brings alive what might at first appear a straightforward anthology, but turns out to be anything but...This is, in the author's own words, a 'commonplace book of smelly thoughts' that will set the reader on a tantalising path of exploration...led by the capricious mind of one of our best garden makers."

Country Life

"Superbly illustrated by Isabel’s own stunning unique botanical photographs which are a sheer joy...a wonderful collection to help the reader re-connect with scent and smell. This is a book to cheer you up on the wet, cold days, a book to pop open and discover a beautifully written passage or poem and I loved it."

Reckless Gardener

"A wonderful book to keep at the bedside through the seasons."

The English Garden

"Scent Magic was a triumph and this latest publication a further em of horticultural literature, an exquisite collection of quotations from great writers organised by month, each introduced with a passage from the author and all beautifully illustrated by her unique plant photographs."

An Irish Gardener Paddy Tobin

"I particularly enjoyed Shafer ben Utman al-Mushafi’s erotic poem, ‘Quince’, but there are many well-chosen gems from more than two millennia, from Sappho to Alice Oswald."

Spectator Best Gardening Books of 2021 Ursula Buchan

"Magical and dreamy. Its beautifully written passages link evocative quotations with striking plant images, stimulating the smells of the garden and childhood memories, the months and seasons, through poetry and prose spanning millennia. Designed to be dipped into when the mood takes you."

Plant Life

"In this charismatic anthology, Bannerman curates her selected texts seasonally and we journey through the garden year in the company of great writers, across millennia and culture. Like smell itself, the book is simultaneously broad yet intimate...An evocative reminder to follow your nose and enjoy the seasonal scents of the moment, right where you are."

Gardens Illustrated

"Enjoyment of gardens and plants is a many-splendoured thing. Our response to both is multifaceted, as layers of meaning and memory are laid down with every fresh encounter with nature. Scent is a key component, and this wondrous book — a mystical amalgam of poetry and prose, combined with the author’s extraordinary photographs — brings this essential sensory element of the joy of gardening to the fore."

Sunday Times Gardening Books of the Year Rachel de Thame

"A fascinating anthology of writings that evoke the scent of plants. Beautifully illustrated with her own photography."

This England

"An amiable (and keenly priced) anthology of verse and prose on the beguiling topic of scent in the garden and field."

Sunday Telegraph Gardening Books of the Year

"The title refers to those virtually blind, velvet-skinned hunters with huge spade claws and such sensitive schnozzes that they can even smell underwater. Bannerman, who has form as a garden designer, writer and photographer, sniffs her way through the scented sayings of her favourite writers, from Betjeman and Baudelaire to Tolstoy and Tennyson, and intersperses them with her own photographs of plants. An infant pussy willow, a lily that has lost its leaves, a rotting, dusty lemon. You can almost smell them off the pages."
Product Format
230 x 170
Publication Date
Sep 23, 2021
Country of Manufacture
Number of Pages