Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Anything except temptation

I love Timber Press books. If you have any sort of garden book collection you surely have at least one of their titles.

I don’t look at their website very often. Not for any other reason than that of temptation. It’s a bit like offering the late Ollie Reed the keys to a branch of Threshers off-licence.

Of course they have oodles of info about all their books, but they also have a daily horticultural question competition that enters you for their monthly book draw.

I do find the questions are generally very interesting, stroke, challenging in their own right, even if you don‘t enter.

I have entered this a number of times, because I do not have enough books, but have yet to win.
Which is probably God’s way of telling me I have plenty of books.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Book Clubbed

I should have mentioned this a while ago when I discovered it.

But if you pop over here, there is a Garden Book Club.

Undoubtedly of interest to all garden book lovers, but possibly more so to the Stateside bloggers as it would be easier for them to take part.

It seems to have gone to sleep, but will I guess spark back into life now winter is almost upon us.

If I had anything about me I would have started a UK oriented Garden Book Club.

That said, my experience of book clubs is that they involve a vociferous argument over what books to chose, a prolonged period of silence, followed by a round of mild-bulling dirceted at those members who have signed up and not actually read the book yet.

Or in some instances even remembered what it was, much less bought it.

I bet they do these things properly in the States.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Free book!!

Win a free book!!

Oh Yes!!

Go here to find out how.

Humby, like the Wolfe

As I mentioned yesterday over on my eponymous blog, I have just acquired a copy of Kensington Gardens by Humbert Wolfe.

I bought it largely because it had a poem in it about the Hawthorn, my favourite tree, but it does also have quite a number of others about trees and flowers and also this which I like a lot:


Said the old deaf gardener
"I'm wore out with stoopin'
over them impident

sword-blue lupin

Look at 'em standing,
as cool as kings,
and me sopped to the middle
with bedding the things."

Friday, 28 November 2008


(in the manner of a M & S advert)
This isn’t just a Penguin handbook
This is a King Penguin book,
This is Flowers of Marsh and Streams
by Iolo A. Williams, with drawings by Noel Rooke.
And it‘s completely marvellous.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Hybrid Vigour.

We use hybrids in the garden without even thinking about them. The successful ones of course, have the best characteristics from both parents and give us a much better plant. Those which don’t tend not to make it past the plant breeders’ selection process and the few that do, usually don’t become best sellers, so naturally fade away with time.

That made me muse a little about hybrid gardening books.

I joined a craft bookclub a while ago and bought Jan Messent’s Knitted Gardens book out of curiosity. It’s most eccentric, offering lots of ways of representing flowers, vegetables and garden structures in a knitted form. For a while I thought that was the only hybrid in my collection. But the addition of Kaffe Fassett’s Country Garden Quilts last Thursday made me look at my garden books with fresh eyes.

I have at least two other hybrids: gardens and cooking are an obvious pairing and I have both Christopher Lloyd’s Gardener Cook (a necessary purchase after reading Dear Friend and Gardener as he a Beth Chatto were always citing recipes which made me extremely hungry) and Monty/Sarah Don’s Fork to Fork.

My other hybrid is Painting Flowers & Gardens in Watercolour and Pastel by Alison Hoblyn, a necessary purchase via Amazon second-hand as I’m struggling with the sketchbook aspects of my gardening course. Having discovered I have several hybrids in my collection, I’m surprised I don’t have more – gardening and photography is an obvious one which springs to mind, but I don’t have a single example, unless you count all the gardening books I have using sumptuous photography as illustration.

Do you have any hybrids in your garden book collection? What’s the most unusual hybrid you’ve seen irrespective of whether or not it’s in your garden book collection? Which ones have the best characteristics of their parents and therefore flourish, and which ones should be left to fade away?


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sheer Deer!

I have quite a few books which relate to single items, like a particular genus.

But I think this takes the biscuit for the most specific subject.

Monday, 17 November 2008


Another of my recent purchases was one of the Penguin Handbook series.
As is the way with collecting anything, one starts to gets one’s eye in, with prices, what‘s common, etc.
It seems to me that this is one of the rarer gardening titles among the PH’s, and for my money it has, so far, the best cover.

It is PH 42 - Flower Growing For Shows - E R Janes [1959]

Friday, 14 November 2008

Blue Prints

I was of course being saucy with my previous mention of blue gardening books.
It would be interesting to discover that there is such thing as horticulturally themed erotic fiction, but in the meantime here then, for Zoe, is the bluest garden book I own.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Dearly Beloved

These are just a few of the books I've acquired in the last couple of months.
I must confess to have been a little put off posting some things here by Helen's comment that there were rather a lot of old books featured. She was entirely right. It would be too easy for this blog to be just a load of photos of old book covers, which would actually be fine, but I'd like it to be a mix of old and new.
Continuing the nuptial theme, there is perhaps also scope for something on borrowed books, though I can't imagine there are many garden books that are blue in content.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Blog Book News

There are a small number of blogs that can be relied upon to have garden book-based posts on a regular basis.

Amongst them are two American ones which, between them, cover two ends of the spectrum. Garden History Girl has items from, as you would expect, the classic history of garden books, whilst my friend Amanda at Kiss My Aster covers more recent, but to me, just as interesting publications. In fact recently she has been having a small flurry of posts about loads of them.

Another blogger of regular acquaintance, Mrs Be features Elspeth Thompson's new book on both her blogs.

And on a less familiar note, I recently came across a blog called The Bookish Gardener. Curiously it has little content relating to garden books, except on Henry Mitchell, where there is rather a lot (in itself no bad thing).

But the most exciting news is surely on Emma Cooper's blog where you will find the opportunity to actually take part in writing a book.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

VP's writing SP

Now the nights are drawing in, it’s time to snuggle in front of the fire, have a warm drink or nice tot of something to hand and to really start getting to grips with the vast (in my case) pile of books that’s been growing over the past few months.

However, from reading the blogosphere, it's become clear to me November's NOT the month for such activities. Writing’s the thing! Emmat’s furiously scribbling away to fulfil her 1,600+ words a day target for the National Novel Writing Month.

If this makes you feel exhausted just thinking about it, then like me you can have a go at National Blog Posting Month – the theme for November is: there is no theme, so you can get away with writing about anything, just do it daily. If that’s too much, then you can have a go at Your Messages, just like our simian friend here.

Or, you could just go back to your fire and get reading. Yet the blogosphere has designs for you in this area too. Where there’s gardening, I believe thoughts of food are never too far away and Joanna on her food blog has winkled out the fun Food Quote Challenge, where there's a copy of The Food Lovers' Treasury up for grabs. All you have to do is recall the finest piece of fictional writing about food you know of and tell the Almond and the Hazelnut blog about it by the 21st November. You'll find full details of what you have to do via the link. However, Joanna's already come up with some rather yummy stiff competition.

Alternatively, how about telling the Flange about your favourite fictional garden in the Comments below? Go to it book fans!


Friday, 7 November 2008


I continue to be seduced into buying books just because of their cover.

This one dates from 1961, and cost a matter of pence.

I love the cover design so much I am thinking of cutting it up and framing it.
That is no doubt an act of sacrilegious vandalism, but it was very cheap and if I did destroy it then it makes the remaining ones more valuable I guess - so it’s not an entirely wanton act.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Book Review - Gardeners’ World Top Tips – A Treasury of Garden Wisdom

Victoria contacted me earlier this week – would I like to have her review copy of the latest Gardeners’ World book published last week? She suggested it would be a suitable prize for my Open Garden fundraiser, so how could I refuse such an offer? I also rather liked the idea of reviewing the book for Flange readers seeing The Garden Monkey’s rather busy at the moment.

First impressions are favourable. It’s hardback with a rather jolly dustjacket harking back to simpler times in the garden. Even the snail on the cover looks friendly. It’s written by Louise Hampden – Gardeners’ World’s producer and announces itself as ‘Hints, tips and wisdom from TV’s longest running and most popular gardening programme…’ I met Louise very briefly at Gardeners’ World Live in June when we exchanged pleasantries during the filming of Gardeners’ World. She’s worked on the programme for the past 10 years, so knows the programme and the last few crops of presenters inside out. According to the press release that came with the book, it’s a tie-in with a 20 part daytime TV series due to start on 1st December. However, there’s no mention of this fact in the book itself.

It’s divided into 5 chapters – Flower Power, Food, Design, Pots and Gardens. Flower Power is further divided by season and looks at how to ensure year-round floral interest in the garden. Several of the book’s shortcomings quickly become apparent: a lot of the content whilst interesting, isn’t really tips at all – there’s potted histories, quotations from famous gardeners (not necessarily Gardeners’ World presenters) and plant trivia. The ‘Top Tips’ themselves (helpfully boxed, with a different font and background, so you can’t miss them) are often pitched at the pre-beginner level. I suspect most of the gardeners whom I believe this book is aimed at will feel a bit short changed. For a book that’s meant to be culled from 40 years of Gardeners’ World wisdom, it’s strange there’s not more tips to share, nor is there much in the way of anecdotes or content attribution to the presenters. I often found the best ‘Top Tips’ were in the non-boxed sections, for example there’s an organic slug repellent recipe I’d love to try using garlic. And that’s when I met another of the book’s shortcomings – there isn’t an index to find the useful bits at a later date. So if I want to return to the book in the spring to cook up my garlic slug repellent, I’ll have to remember the recipe’s in the Flower Power chapter, in the Summer section and somewhere in the part called Dealing with Slugs and Snails. Hmm.

The chapters on Food, Design and Pots are in a similar vein. I thought the Design chapter was the strongest and most coherent in its content and advice – probably because it’s documenting a journey from start to finish with some clearly signposted ‘things to think about’ along the way. In contrast, the Gardens section was woefully inadequate at just 4 pages. This is the chapter meant to reflect the hundreds of gardens and nurseries Gardeners’ World has visited and should give readers some must-see places to explore later. However, there’s no mention of Kew, nor the National Trust or English Nature. You could argue these are obvious, but if that’s so, then why mention the RHS gardens or the Yellow Book? The NCCPG is mentioned fleetingly, but no contact details are given if anyone wants to find out where to visit a garden with a specific plant collection. There’s two pages of suggested gardens to visit and I liked the way this is divided into places reflecting the other chapters of the book. However at two pages in length and with 10 sub-headings it means many readers won’t have anywhere to go nearby if they want to visit one with for example, Winter interest. Simply doubling the length of this chapter, with a better researched set of websites and contact details would have made it a much more useful resource.

You may think I don’t rate this book from what I’ve said so far. However, much of it is utterly charming. The plentiful line drawings are lovely and much of the information is interesting. I did have quite a few ‘Oh I didn’t know that’ moments which kept me turning the pages. It would have been so much better if the book had tried to be good at one thing instead of two. As a reference book it fails, but as a miscellany to dip into at bedtime, it works.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Guess what I've been up to?

I really should get out more.

I find the fact that it's so difficult with gardening books stangely compelling.

BTW - missed this one from yesterday's round-up as it went up just after I'd posted.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Blog Book News

Another quick round-up of garden book goings-on, many of which I‘m sure you will have seen.

Highlight for me was Kate‘s eloquent review of James Alexander-Sinclair‘s. book.

Also fellow flange members Helen and VP have a go at the Sorted Books thing.

I think I mentioned the free E-Books here before, but they weren’t actually available at the

And if you are in the market for freebies, pop over here.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Book Review - The Thrifty Gardener – Alys Fowler

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. My expectations were of a book full of sensible, down to earth advice and ideas and I wasn’t, in the end, disappointed.

The book is divided into 9 chapters which lead the novice gardeners from ‘No garden gardening’ to pruning and propagating and includes a directory of easy veg and flowers to grow. However, unlike other gardening books I have encountered this one had a very urban and modern feel and certainly engaged with society’s current preoccupation with recycling and sustainability as shown in the section on ‘skip diving’ which rather surprised provincial me!! At first I though I wasn’t going to be able to engage with the book, being naturally drawn to those coffee table books with lots of sumptuous English country garden. I thought, as it was aimed at beginners, it couldn’t teach me anything new – how presumptuous of me!
Alys’ wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm shines through on every page as does her non-nonsense personality which is humorously demonstrated in the section about DIY tools ( I told you it wasn’t your normal gardening book!). Alys says that you need to find someone to teach you how to use tools and in her experience this shouldn’t be someone who "complain(s) about your driving skills" but rather "someone you are never going to go to bed with" – such sensible advice!

Whilst the book contains a number of DIY projects such as building your own compost bin and wormery, it also contains a lot of sensible gardening advice – some of which goes against everything else you will have read, such as her opinion that shop bought soil testing kits are a complete waste of time and money, the alternative either send a soil sample to a lab or use a home grown test kit complete with red cabbage leaf! I found Alys’ honest approach very refreshing and humorous.

Having encouraged the novice gardener to move from container gardening (which includes tips on growing Avocado and Papaya plants) into garden gardening the books then gives some tips on preparing soil, sowing and propagating and concludes with coping with gluts and how to make herb teas. This last section came as a surprise and this was one element of the book which I found frustrating. It touched on many subjects but not in great detail and you were left turning the page and finding yourself going in a totally different direction. I think there is a huge potential for Alys to develop some of the smaller sections in the book into a range of excellent companion books.

Although this book claims to be aimed at beginners, and it certainly doesn’t assume any pre-knowledge, taking trouble to explain various terminology, I do think that most gardeners would find it a welcome edition to their literature collection. If nothing else it makes you re-look at things you have taken for granted and introduces you to new points of view which can never be a bad thing.

Having started thinking I could learn nothing new from the book I am now itchy for spring to arrive so I can have a go at growing my own chickpea plant and I don’t even like chickpeas.


Sunday, 12 October 2008

Blog Book News

I apologise once again for the lack of bloggage on these pages. As things go to sleep outside I will try and make Flange entries a bit more regular.

So by way of recompense - a bit of a round up of a few garden booky items.

The idea behind the picture comes from the Sorted Book Project, which I discovered via Musings from a Muddy Island, a site that VP tipped me off about.

It’s not easy to do the “sorted book” thing with garden books, for the simple reason that they pretty much all seem to have garden or gardening in the title.

Musings from a MI is completely booky, but as far as I can ascertain has only one garden book on it. Nevertheless it looks like a delicious book and it is a fine blog.

Next, the prodigal blogger returns and EmmaT champions Charles Dowding’s Salad Leaves, on her day-blog.

Then a serious recommendation from Mrs Be on a subject she knows all about.

A nice book pic crops up on Pictures Just Pictures.

Garden Bookcases get a feature from The Garden History Girl.

Finally, I came across this old review of Hortus and Slightly Foxed.

Now I had never come across the latter, but it does look like it might have some interest to the horticulturally minded. Does anyone know it?

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Lost Cause

It's not just printed books I'm a bit over-stocked with.

I have recently realised that I have quite a few notebooks - not all of which are in the photo.

And I still didn’t find the one I’m looking for.


Thursday, 18 September 2008

Autumn Leaves

The more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a new Flange member, blogger and fellow garden book enthusiast.

Coming with the advent of autumn this is very exciting news.

I am off to lay in a good supply of seasoned logs, stilton and port (I actually typed that as pot - not a bad idea, but not conducive to reading) ready for long winter's nights filled with wonderful reading.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Book Review - On Guerilla Gardening

I suspect Richard Reynolds would be a formidable opponent at Risk. His - is it too early to use the term ‘cult book’ yet? - On Guerrilla Gardening is certainly a valuable vade mecum for anybody interested in illicitly improving the local landscape, but it also contains the kind of tactical and strategic savvy that you normally associate with a Garry Kasparov or a Ferdinand Foch.

Indeed, while growing things is at the heart of what Reynolds is writing about (“politics and sustainability aside, the reason I became a guerrilla gardening is because I love gardening”), there is a very strong emphasis placed on the ‘guerrilla’ aspect of his sallies: the book is liberally strewn with canny quotes from fighting folk such as Mao Tse-tung and Che Guevara, he talks knowledgeably about fellow ‘troops’ making ‘sorties’ and ‘strikes’ in the middle of the night to cause ‘shock and awe’, and he recognises the vital importance of propaganda – especially blogging and other social media – in winning hearts and minds.

The book - a comfortable size which uses photographs well and has attractive endpapers - is divided into two sections, The Movement and The Manual. The first part explores the philosophy behind nipping out in the middle of the night to turn untended urban roundabouts, unloved medians and even Guantanamo Bay into small oases of delight. Reynolds also gives us a whistlestop tour through the movement’s history from the time of the 17th century Diggers (hats off to Gerrard Winstanley) through the turbulence of flower power to the posturing of millennium protestors.

In part two he gives general advice on what to plant, where to plant it (or in some cases, lob your homemade seed bomb) and what to wear. I suspect much of the horticultural part of this section will not be a revelation to most of the Garden Monkey’s readership, but for the many quite keen yet spectacularly ignorant gardeners such as myself it is very useful indeed.

There’s much more to this call to arms though. Despite largely positive notices in the national press, reviewers seem to have largely missed or ignored a central aspect of this book. Reynolds himself claims that guerrilla gardeners’ main enemies in the 21st century are scarcity and neglect, Dickensian evils not usually associated with gardening handbooks but which he believes require radical solutions. While he specifically states that his warriors should act legally, On Guerrilla Gardening feels like a handbook to non-confrontational campaigning and a manifesto for social change. What we plant is important, he argues, but so is why we plant it, whether it’s for aesthetic, economic or health reasons. It’s not surprising to discover the title and chapter headings are set in a type designed by William H Page, not only a lover of ornamental gardening but also a community activist. For this reason, it’s likely to find a place on my bookshelf between Tom Hodgkinson’s How To Be Idle and Antonia Swinson’s You Are What You Grow.


Thanks Alex - More on Guerilla Gardening can be found here

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Arrows of Desire

Is there a book that you really covet?

The target of my longing is Mabberley’s Plant Book.

Why don’t I buy it? Well it is £50, which is quite a lot of money. But it isn’t a huge amount of money like say , this one.

And if I stopped buying books for a couple of months (as if!) I could easily put the necessary McGarrett aside.

And it certainly not really a lot of money compared to the amount I want it.

So why don’t I just buy it?

Well sometimes the pleasure is all in the desire.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Bag, Book and Handle?

Laetitia Maklouf, one of the team in C5's new garden programme is described as an author.

Her book isn't out yet (unless she has an earlier book on handbags that I'm not aware of).

Which made me wonder at what point do you become an author, or entitled to call yourself one?

After publication sure, but what about during, or before?

I really don't know.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Guilty Treasures

From Flange member Helen:

Thought I would bring the book flange down market for a change. Although I have enjoyed reading about the various ancient gardening literary finds, I thought something more up to date would be good.

This is my most recent purchase

Now before you leap in and ask why I should buy such a book, I would state that in my defence I haven't had my greenhouse for long and I want to do more with it than grow tomatoes and raise annuals so was looking for some inspiration. The book has delivered this albeit it in simplistic terms.

I wondered if members had gardening gems that they wouldn't necessarily rush to own up to but find very helpful.

Helen (aka patientgardener)

Friday, 29 August 2008

E's are good?

Given that this blog is a child of the internet, it's perhaps surprising that, thus far, it has only once had a link to, or mentioned an E book.

There are two free E books here.

I haven't looked at them yet, but will do so.

In the meantime if anyone does and wants to tell the Flange about it - be our guest.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Books my Bean-counter left me

This post is from Flange-member James who says :

My accountant gave me a 1951 copy of this fine publication. I particularly like the fact that it is described as an "intimate" magazine for garden lovers. This title promises more than it delivers (although Gladioli for Gaiety is a start). Sadly, not one to go in the private reading stash down at the allotment.

There are some cracking advertisements in the publication including one for The Cornish Flexible Earth Company which includes this limerick:
There was a young lady from Ealing
Who had a peculiar feeling
For our Flexible Earth
Gave rise to great mirth
When her daffodils reached to the ceiling

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Blog Book News

One of my favourite blogs Garden History Girl has a nice garden piece by Saki, who rather coincidentally, was the feature of this piece in a blog I was perusing at the weekend.

The blog is about the second hand and rare book trade, and thoroughly interesting, with some posts that are more, or less horticulturally themed.

I have also blundered across a blog featuring natural history writer, Henry David Thoreau.

Returning to Garden History Girl, she also has a link to the garden History Society, who have lots of booky stuff.

And finally Flange member James Alexander-Sinclair has a post on books, which will lead you back here.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Britain In Pictures

The books in the photo on a recent post were:

English Garden Flowers - Harry Roberts 1944,
Wildflowers in Britain - Geoffrey Grigson 1944 and
British Garden flowers George M Taylor 1946.

They are part of a series called Britain in Pictures which covers a wide range of subjects in the arts, sciences, history and geography. The ones I have each has 8 colour plates and 22 -26 black and white illustrations. They are all just under fifty pages in length which makes them ideal to spend an hour or so perusing on one of the rainy afternoons, that have plagued us of late.

Books from the series can be bought quite cheaply online, although the usual warning applies here that you have to be wary of a vendor offering a book at a low price, whilst at the same time inflating the postal costs.

Others in the series that would be of interest to gardeners are:
British Herbs and Vegetables George M Taylor.
Trees in Britain - Alexander L Howard
British Botanists - John Gilmour and
English Country Houses - V. Sackville-West.

I personally will also be looking out for another called British Orientalists, in the hope that it will include something on Edward Pococke, a very distant relative, who some credit with introducing the cedar to this country.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

P..P..P..Pick up a Penguin

Do you recall my post about Penguin Handbooks, following some photos that Flange member VP supplied?

Well, I have been putting together a list of PH's of interest to the gardener. It is currently quite ropey, and can only improve, but for what it's worth here it is:

S145 - Trees and Shrubs (and how to grow them) - W H Rowe[1944]
S146 - The Vegetable Growers' Handbook Vol I
S147 - The Vegetable Growers' Handbook Vols II.
PH1 - Soft Fruit Growing - Raymond Bush
PH2 - Tree Fruit Growing Part I (Apples) - Raymond Bush
PH3 - Tree Fruit Growing Part II (Pears, Quinces and Stone Fruits). - Raymond Bush
PH19 - The Flower Garden. Penguin Handbook - E R Janes [1953]
PH 23 - The Vegetable Garden - E R Janes
PH 37 - Roses - Fred Fairbrother [1958]
PH 44 - Rock gardens - E B Anderson [1959]
PH 51 - Hardy Herbaceous Plants - Lanning Roper. [1960]
PH59 - Dahlias - Stuart Ogg [1961]
PH73 - House Plants - Margaret E. Jones [1962]
PH82 - Water Gardens - Francis Perry [1962]
PH127 - Garden Design - Kenneth Midgley [1966]
PH?? - Annual and Biennial Flowers - A P Balfour
PH?? - Chrysanthemums - E T Thistletwaite
PH?? - The Cool Greenhouse - G W Robinson [1959]
PH?? - Lawns - R B Dawson
PH?? Delphiniums - Ronald Parrett [1961]
PH?? - Cacti & Other Succulents - R Ginns
PH?? - Gardening The Modern Way - Roy Hay

I have also as you may have guessed been putting together my own collection of them, which includes most, but not all of the above.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Gone Gerritsen

Gardens Illustrated is my favourite garden magazine, although I have occasionally been rather rude about it in the past. In truth I have calmed down a lot since they off-hired Hugh Jampton.

Unsurprisingly when I get the latest issue, one of the first bits I check out is the book reviews.

This month I see that they are giving away two copies of Henk Gerritsen's new book Essay on Gardening. They are actually limited edition English language copies of the book, which is published in Dutch.

I am quite excited at this prospect and utterly convinced that I will win one.

On which note, I would tell you how to enter the draw, but you will have to buy the mag to find out. That isn't down to altruism on my part, just an attempt to limit the amount of other entries.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Siadwell Principle

The title of this post does admittedly sound a bit like one of those brick-like books by Robert Ludlum, or someone, that you see all manner of sad bastards clasping under their arms at airports.

Anyway - it isn’t.

The Siadwell Principle is something altogether more profound.

It is an age-old concept, but one most recently demonstrated by Siadwell, a gormless Welsh geek created by John Sparkes, in an eighties comedy series I only dimly remember.
The sketch in question opened with Siadwell admiring his “Collection” - which was two pens and a comb. The joke was that he had just three things, only two of which were the same, but laugh not - this is a Damascene moment.
It not only establishes the principle that you need only three things to have a collection [two is merely a pair], but also if you have only two things that are the same, you can still create a collection if you can find something made of the same material and approximately the same length.
This is a vital dictum to the budding collector.

Imagine my joy when I bought this ready made collection yesterday. Not only that, the second-hand bookshop had a half price sale on and they cost me just £4.50 for the lot.

I will of course post about these books in due course, but right now I need a lie down - I am as excited as a paparazzo who has just photographed Amy Winehouse, using a pooter to blow Class A drugs up her mimsy.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Blog Book News

Another quick breeze through the garden book bits and pieces that I have happened across recently.

The big news is of course the free books up for grabs at VP's Virtual Open Garden.

Meanwhile Emma Townshend is still reading anything with a vaguely horticultural link - this time strawberries.

Again more groovy stuff from my fellow vintage book fan Amanda - although the featured garden looks quite contemporary.

I am in a total green eyed frenzy over a new book R Pete Free has acquired, less so about the gay Alan Titchmarsh book.

And finally a blog I found that has a free E-book for download, and some book reviews [plus a certain measure of cat-nutterdom]

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Handbags and Gladrags

What’s your funniest garden book moment - if indeed you have one.

Mine was seeing a pile of one of Diarmuid Gavin's books - I think it was Outer Spaces - in Poundland, alongside boxes of Colgate toothpaste with Turkish writing and packs of 48 AA batteries.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

We the people...

Like Jane Perrone I'm working my way through (and aquiring) the complete works of Christopher Lloyd.

Last week I saw his Exotic planting for adventurous gardeners” in an Oxfam bookshop for £6.99. As the retail coverprice is £20 I thought "Way-hey!" and bought it straight away.

But now I find that The Book People have it for £6.99. I know that is what I paid for mine, but hell, I could have got a brand new one.

Still it was for charity.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Blue Remembered Hills

I know this is a mug, but it has the picture of a book on it.

I think it’s rather fab. I want one.

Available from Tree House Blue.

Monday, 11 August 2008

To Dave...

Following on from the previous post - there is a hazard to buying book from say eBay, which have been signed by the author. What is described as a signed copy might also have a dedication the vendor failed to mention. This might limit it’s potential as a gift.

Of course “Best Wishes” is fine whatever the case, but if it’s a newish book that you are trying to pass off as a first hand-purchase then “To Jim” might necessitate a lie of two about the author getting the name wrong and you being too embarrassed to point it out.

However there is no way in the world that you are going to be able to bullshit your way out of a book bearing the inscription “To Betty , good luck with the geraniums”

How do I know this you ask?

Well it’s absolutely not because I bought a signed copy of Kim Wilde’s "Gardening With Children” for a female friend with small kids, only to find it was signed “To Dave.."

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Signed Copies

Gardening writer Martyn Cox has sent me some photos of books from his own bookshelves, which feature the authors signature and wonders has anybody else got any signed copies to beat these?

I have a few myself, but one less that I would like. You see, last year I bought a Graham Stuart Thomas book from eBay for a friend who loves roses. It wasn’t till it was delivered that I realised that it was signed by the great man. Needless to say my friend very nearly didn‘t get her present.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Blog Book News

Just a quick trot through some of the garden book things cropping up lately.

Firstly an article from last weekend's Telegraph about David Wheeler, the editorial brains behind Hortus, staving off the worst of horticultural deprivation with the books of Margery Fish.

That author, along with Christopher Lloyd, forms a pair of writers whose complete works Jane Perrone is working her way through.

Emma Townshend is (temporarily one hopes) eschewing such worthy stuff in favour of charity books that simply have garden in the title.

And finally, I hope I'm not giving away too much of a secret when I tell you that there may be the odd garden book to be had at VP's Virtual Open Garden shortly.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Vintage ads

These pics of some vintage adverts were kindly supplied by VP from one of her Penguin Handbooks.

Since my last post on the subject I have been looking at Penguin Handbooks in an "Oooh, what a great idea for a collection" sort of way, and will be doing a post on them soon. VP, what have you started?

A blog I can recommend for vintage stuff from books and magazines is Kiss My Aster.

The author, Amanda, has 3 issues of a book from the 60s called Better Homes & Gardens New Garden Book, which she posts on from time to time and which I covet deeply.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Thin as a rake

I must apologise for the rather thin number of posts here in recent weeks.

Life has been a bit mad, to say the least.

I shall do my best to rectify the situation.

It's only money

The book shown in my previous post was The Week-End Gardener by C S Goodman, FRGS, and like another book featured here, published by Crowther and subject to “War Time Productions and Costs”.

(I didn't actually click on to this when I bought it. )

It was “Written specially for the National Allotments Society, this book contains may hints for the amateur gardener and people whose permanent interest is horticulture.”

The reason I asked how much the book was, was because I think I paid too much (£12.50).

I am hearted by VP’s comment that it is going for between £5 & £40 on Amazon, although my copy is the 1945 fifth issue and so probably not at the top of that scale, even though it in good condition..

Mind you, I can’t believe that Monty Don’s book of the same name goes for so much. I can’t believe that anything he has produced (excluding his children) is worth anywhere near 76 quid.

Whilst in my heart of hearts I thought the Goodman book was a bit steep, it was one of those occasions where I picked it up and put it down several times.

In those sort of situations it seems, to me at least, that if you don't buy the item then you always regret it afterwards.

But I suppose if one were to take that line of logic to it's conclusion, I'd nip over to Ivelet Books and buy the copy of John Evelyn they have for sale.

Can anybody lend me £2,750?

Monday, 28 July 2008

How much?

Do you like this book?

How much do you think it's worth?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Guerrillas across the water

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.

I must ask her if she wants to join the Flange.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Tie me up, tie me down

On the subject of a previous post - it seems that James the Hat was nearly "Trussed".


Saturday, 19 July 2008

You say Guerilla, I say Gorilla...

Does anyone fancy reviewing Richard Reynold's "On Guerilla Gardening" for the Flange?

I have it, but even am less impartial than normal where GG is concerned.

If you don't have a copy, I could probably organise one for you.


Friday, 18 July 2008

A sign of madness

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”!...

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Penguin Handbooks

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.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Blog Book News

Here's another brief round up of some garden book goings on from the internet.

Alex continues with his Shedworker’s Bookshelf each and every Friday (get ready for tomorrow’s) and this week had a post on the Art & Artisan bookshop.

Also from a shed source is a review of Growing in the Community by Simon Kirby, who is the chap with the rather wonderful shed built entirely from pallets.

The last review is rather preconceived one of Richard Reynolds’s book On Guerrilla Gardening
from a little while back. As a supporter of Guerrilla Gardening I had to stick my oar in.

There’s news of a couple of new books are in the pipeline one from Emma Cooper and another from Gayla Trail.

And finally some photos of Lloyds of Kew (as recommended by EmmaT). Sadly the shop doesn't seem to have it's own site.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

With One Lousy Free Packet of Seed

I only recently discovered that Lynne Truss had written a book with a horticultural theme.

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.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Gardeners’ Brains Trust

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.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Dig For Victory

VP has supplied these pictures of her copy of Practical Gardening & Food Production In Pictures, a book clearly intended to help the wartime Dig For Victory campaign.