Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Great Read: Paul Isley III's "Tillandsia II"

I finally have it! The book I've been waiting for...the Ultimate Tilly Tome- "Tillandsia II" by Paul Isley III. Paul is arguably the most enthusiastic Tillandsia fanatic on Planet Earth.  A Californian, he's been studying, teaching about, and growing Tillies since 1974. This book is a labor of love and it's spectacular. My family gave it to me as a birthday gift and I was jumping around the living room after opening the package. Which wasn't easy considering the book weighs about 5kg.... It's not cheap (around $75 USA) but if you collect Tillies, save up for a copy if you can. It's worth it.

His first book, "Tillandsia", came out in 1987, and "Tillandsia II" in 2009. It's a 288-page coffee table book with lavish, very expensively produced illustrations of most Tillandsia species. Isley's enthusiasm for the subject is apparent from the very first- here's how he dressed up his family members for an illustration of how useful Tillandsias can be....
Hey, who had the idea of Tilly hairpieces first, the Isleys, Gardener Gail, or me?
OK, well, they win that round, their photo is from 2008, mine from 2013.

The book is easy to navigate, and can be read cover-to-cover, or piecemeal. I particularly like that Isley includes pronunciations for each species. "Latifolia" may be obvious, but "ixioides" is not! So thank you, Paul, for helping us out with that. Each Tilly is described, with natural history and care detailed. This makes it a wonderful resource for actual "Tilly Guardians" like myself. I've learned quite a few good tips since I started this book.

Of course I have to issue a warning: this book is a lemming-creator. I have over 50 species of Tillandsia in my collection, but now, after reading Isley, I've got a wish list of about 30 more.... In this sense, the book is more expensive than the cover price, but hey, they're Tillies, so they're worth it, right?
T. ionantha in bloom, MR, 2014

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