If it’s true that the devil is in the details, then Susan K. MacKinnon has written one hellaciously good book. I was fortunate enough to interview the author at the Shady Cove/Trail Wildflower Show on May 2.
The book is titled "Flowers of the Table Rock" and many a veteran wildflower field guide junkie has been heard to exclaim that "all field guides should be done like this one."
What makes MacKinnon’s book so unique – aside from its very local
appeal – is the aforementioned details. While most field guides provide
a single picture of a flower and a brief description, this book
provides more detail than you can shake a stem at. There are multiple
pictures of each flower, including buds, blooms, leaves and frequently
the plant in various seasons. But wait – there’s more! The author
emptied out her piggy bank for many shots – placing quarters, pennies
and even dimes next to flowers to give the reader an accurate
perception of size. Further, Dr. MacKinnon purchased a dissecting
microscope equipped with a camera for photos so detailed a CSI would be
If you’re now dying to see a copy of this book –
don’t run to your local bookstore. "Table Rocks" is self published –
but keep reading, we’ll let you know how to get your hands on it later.
may now also be wondering how and why does one self publish a
wildflower guide? For MacKinnon the quest began quite innocently when
she purchased her first digital camera 6 ½ years ago. Quickly she
discovered the macro feature and concluded she could take some darn
nifty flower pictures with it. After 4 ½ years of picture taking and
research on the Table Rocks flowers, it occurred to MacKinnon that
there might just be a book in all of her work somewhere.
publishers weren’t buying. They felt he book was too detailed and it
would be cost prohibitive to produce a book loaded with so many
pictures covering such a small area.
Not to be defeated,
MacKinnon purchased publishing software and created the book herself.
She then researched printers nationwide and found the cheapest option
was right here in Oregon.
Of the 250 copies printed, there
are 6 left, thanks to local bookstores purchasing them 2 or 3 at a
time, various book signings and word of mouth. Not to worry though,
MacKinnon will be doing a second printing very soon.
or further information, email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or look for the author hiking around Table Rocks – she’ll be the one
down on her belly taking the über close up picture of a teeny flower.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent