Now while I try and organise a copy of Richard Reynolds’s book On Guerrilla Gardening for Alex to review, I thought you might like to read a write up of another book on the subject - Guerrilla Gardening by David Tracey.
This was featured on Melanie Rimmer’s Bean Sprouts blog, which has quite a few booky bits.
It seems to me a sign of obsession with a subject, when you have items relating to it, which are of no possible use to you.
I have a number of garden/gardening/horticulture books, which I am sure I will not derive the slightest practical use from.
That is not to say that they are without any use - they give pleasure.
This is, I think, the book I own which is the least useful, but I love it.
It is by E St Clair Morford and is the 1946 reprint of the 1926 original.
It bears the following heartrending inclusion in the revised foreword:
“Since 1926, when this book first appeared, much has happened. The writer returned in1945 to a garden completely destroyed; borders turned into sweet potato beds, lawns a waving sea of lalang and “forestry”. Fern and plant houses pulled down; shrubs and trees cut down by vandals, who cut the trees to get the fruit!…standard hibiscus and orchids - the collection of 30 years - thrown on the rubbish heap!…”C’est la guerre”!...
VP has sent some more pictures for posting, of some more vintage books, saying:
“It's actually a set of 3, all by the marvellously named Raymond Bush. 'Soft Fruit Growing' + 'Tree Fruit Growing Part I (Apples)' and II (Pears, Quinces and Stone Fruits). They all bear the classic Penguin cover that's now gracing many a literary mug. I think these must have been the first 3 books in the Penguin Handbook series as they have the serial numbers PH1, PH2 and PH3 on their spines.”
She adds that she has Penguin Handbooks S146 and S147 - The Vegetable Growers' Handbook Vols I & II.
Now this fired my inner trainspotter. Why did some Penguin Handbooks have the serial number PH and others S?
So I dug out three Penguin Handbooks of my own.
I have Tree and Shrubs (and how to grow them) - which is definitely a Penguin Handbook, but is S145 [pub October 1944]
And 2 others PH9 - The Penguin Handyman PH13 - Your Smallholding.
They are published 1945 & 1947 respectively, and so the PH numbering must have started in late 1944/1945.
This still raised a number of questions, such as when exactly did the S pre-fix change to PH and why?
And also what is the full list of the PH series?
If you haven’t yet fallen asleep, I can report that I spent an hour and a half searching the net for answers to these questions. I did discover a wealth of fascinating information about Penguin Books, but drew a total blank on the answers that I was after. maybe someone will read this and enlighten us.
I should have known better really, I had a similar fruitless quest for the definitive list of Wisley Handbooks a while back.
In fact, in my ignorance I did not know that she had written anything other than Eats Shoots & Leaves.
I found this information recently, whilst perusing a 1994 copy of Gardens Illustrated, in which she was interviewed. Yes, as well as old books, I read old magazines as well - I should get out more.
Such is the power and wonder of the internet that I was able to get hold of a copy not only very quickly, but also very cheaply, although I got stung a bit on the postage.
The book itself (a 2004 reprint of the '94 original) is an amusing comic novel, ideal for a holiday and was a welcome piece of froth when I had some dead time to fill and wasn’t in the mood to concentrate intensively.
It's not perhaps as good as the master of the field Carl Hiassen (what is?), but it put me in mind of the books by that author, being populated as it was by all sorts of loonies, which is quite surprising since it revolves around the staff of a gardening magazine.
Ooh hang on, I must go and check if Lynne Truss ever worked for Amateur Gardening.
VP’s photos of her wartime book reminded me of this little hardback I have on my shelves.
I bought Wild Flowers and Weeds by G.H. Copley N.D.H., Gardeners’ Brains Trust, etc, largely because of the cover, but also because inside the dust jacket it states “War Time Productions and Costs 8/6” - which seems a bit steep to me.
All of which reminds me - I must look up what the Gardeners’ Brains Trust was.
This wonderful image has been provided by James the Hat, who says:
"One of the extraordinary things about these old books (this has no date but judging from the clothes and title must be around the turn of the 19th century) is that their planting was extremely dull. Great hedges, perfect maintenance, immaculate lawns but pretty uninvigorating borders.
The cover art is signed Will Jenkins about whom I can discover nothing. It is something the modern parent should remember: if you wish your child to be easily discoverable through Google then for goodness sake call them Montmorency of Alfalfa or Nickynackynoodle."
It is however a bittersweet experience, as it’s a single volume of Commercial Gardening, edited by John Weathers , ( A Practical and Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners Market Grower fruit Flower and Vegetable Growers Nurserymen etc.) and there are three more, which I don't have.
The fact that it's volume two, rather than volume one, or volume four, the latter of which presumably contains the index, somehow makes this worse.
Of course, these days it is de rigueur for books to attempt to seduce us with an attractive cover, but I must confess to buying this old book largely because of it's cover illustration.
Although the purchase was also, in part, because of the subject of “Art Out of Doors” (it's about garden design and is subtitled Hints on Good Taste in Gardening) and, in slightly larger part, because it was written by one Mrs Schuyler Van Renesselaer. What a great name.
It's an American book and mine is the 1925 reprint rather than the 1893 original.
It did however once belong to a lady called Barbara de Quincy., which I find strangely marvellous.