I'm a sucker for a secondhand gardening book, preferably at least as old as me.
No glossy images for me - give me a line drawing any day of week. Add in a vaguely chucklesome author name and some old-school horticultural advice and I'm happy as a sandboy. No surprise, then, that Pruning in the Fruit Garden by F Hilkenbaumer caught my attention in the £1 rack outside my favourite bookshop.
Fruit tree pruning's one of those skills that, try as I might, I can't get the hang of from a written guide. This is where Mr Hilkenbaumer's book comes in. There's very little in the way of words, because it's the line drawings that communicate the art and science of the job of pruning. The lines of the tree's branches are rendered in black, with red lines showing what should be cut back: it couldn't be clearer.
The book was published in 1976, but as the back cover says, "fashions in pruning come and go, but the basic techniques remain the same". The only mystery is a pruning timetable on the last page that's got me completely puzzled, but no matter, the rest of it is pure gold. Thankyou, Mr Hilkenbaumer.
With any luck, my plum and pear tree will thank you, too.
Horticultural - The organic gardening blog
Thanks for the Guest Blog Jane - GMx