Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Harvest Festival part one

Just a few of this summer's harvest of books - Blogger will only allow 5 pics at a time = rubbish.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Free Book

Well, not quite, but certainly the chance to win one.

It's a compendium called Garden Wisdom by Leslie Geddes-Brown

Go here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Book Review - The Alternative Kitchen Garden an A-Z - Emma Cooper

Another proud moment as Flange member Emma C's book came out last month.

Many thanks to Frankie for the review and to Emma herself for organising the review copy and apologies for my tartdiness in posting it:
The Alternative Kitchen Garden an A-Z
Emma Cooper
As a not particularly successful food grower myself, I was really keen to get my hands on this book. I was not disappointed. Emma’s encouraging, have-a-go approach to gardening is evident on every page, encouraging the reader to follow suit. The introduction gives a short background on how her kitchen garden evolved from a neglected, urban Oxfordshire back garden into a productive plot and media HQ.
The A-Z itself is an eclectic collection of Emma’s interests and crops, including both her triumphs and failures, which will endear her to many other real gardeners. I could sympathise with Emma’s saffron trials and after reading her book, will never attempt to grow any Tiger Nuts! I also found a surprising amount of useful information and a desire to find out more about unusual vegetables. If nothing else, the Real Seeds Company will be added to my list of suppliers next year.
My one niggle is reserved for the publisher’s lay out. For a ‘green’ book there are far too many half empty pages, which could have been filled. I often found myself wondering if there could have been a kale or dolmades recipe to fill the blank space at the end of an entry.
With stiff competition this autumn from the likes of Nigel Slater, The RHS and Bob Flowerdew all bringing out books timed for the Christmas market. I hope that this neat little book will find a space on the bookshelves.
Veg Plot Frankie

Monday, 14 September 2009

Yesterday's paper

Many years ago I used to have a collection of all the bookmarks, scraps of paper and oddments that I'd found in second hand-book. A modern artist could probably create a show from such ephemera.

Anyway, I've no idea where they are now, and in any case much as I love to find these things, nowadays I tend to leave them in the book where they were found.

This is one such find from this summer's book purchases (of which more later) and one which I find very amusing, but can't put my finger on exactly why.
PS - What is also remarkable is that a nursery still exists at that address - usually they are long gone.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Elizabeth Peplow - Garden Writer

I'm honoured and grateful to be able to post this wonderful piece by the writer Sarah Salway
My Mother, a storytelling gardener

Sarah Salway

(In 1979, my mother, Elizabeth Peplow published her first book about herbs, Herbs, Country Crafts (Hamlyn, 1979). This was followed by Stay Slim with Herbs & Spices (Darton, Longman & Todd, 1981), The Herb Book, An A-Z of Useful Plants (W H Allen, 1982), Herb & Herb Gardens of Britain (Webb & Bower, 1984) and In A Monastery Garden (David & Charles, 1988). During this time, she also designed herb gardens for English cathedrals, including Peterborough and Wells, as well as the physic gardens at Westminster Abbey and Castle Acre Priory. When the Garden Monkey suggested I write something about Mum and her work, I think s/he was thinking I might come up with a few paragraphs, but in writing this piece, I found myself going on and on in a way my mother would have definitely called ‘pure indulgence’. Looking at the list of her books above though, and as a writer and mother myself, I’m amazed at how she managed to be so productive. Four children, five books, and even more gardens. I’m ashamed to say I’d never put her books together in a pile before but it shocked me because, when we were growing up, she never made it feel like she was working, perhaps because she loved what she did so much. Anyway, writing this piece of ‘pure indulgence’ has been a chance to acknowledge her work as an author, rather than just mother.)

Even before she started writing books about herbs and gardens, my mother had designed and planted her garden in the shape of narratives.

Herbs were best for her particular style of story-telling and if she had a favourite, it was simple parsley. ‘You really cannot use too much of it,’ she writes, ‘and I have yet to meet anybody who dislikes the taste.’
You could stand in front of one parsley plant for hours as my mother would talk about the myths – that it never grew in any house where the woman wore the trousers; the folklore – that it is so slow to germinate because the roots have to go nine times down to the devil before the seedlings can break surface; the recipes – with broad beans, with lemon juice; the benefits – digestive, clarity of mind, or even to add lustre to your hair.
Of course, back then, I longed for her to be normal and buy her parsley dried and tasting of cardboard in those little packets you got from the supermarket – just like everybody else’s mother.
This was the late 1970s, before herbs were as universal as they are now. When my parents opened a small herb farm on the edge of Cambridgeshire, growing and using them was still treated as suspicious. Neither had any formal gardening training but they’d been sharing dreams ever since they first met at a creative writing conference. As children, it was the other kids with fathers and mothers who went out every morning to work in an office that were the odd ones. We learnt that the two traits you had to avoid at all costs were routine and boredom. Our parents’ mantra could have been, why not try it? So, with the herb farm, it was very much a case of learning as they grew, not least in dealing with customers.
One day, a clipping in a national paper about how feverfew could cure migraines caused a period of surreal chaos. A particular buyer didn’t even turn off his car engine as he rushed over to grab a pot of feverfew. He’d driven off before my mother could begin to tell her stories about the plant’s history, and how to use it.

It felt like we had just sold him a spell. He needed us, but he certainly didn’t want to get too close. The whole witch thing wasn’t helped by the fact our house was called The Hoo and there were gravestones in our front garden, cared for by a seventy year old handyman who often wore a black leather flying cap.
About this time, my mother wrote and published her first book.
This was a mother who once sent me and my sister off shopping with a list that read ‘Nutty nuts’, ‘apply apples’ and ‘peachy peaches’, and so on for every food item we needed. I was too young to read myself, so I didn’t understand why the shopkeeper was so confused but it took a long time for my sister to forgive Mum.
Admittedly in her books she didn’t exactly write ‘herby herbs’ but her sense of humour still comes across on the printed page. My mother wrote as she talked. Even picking up one of her books now, ‘The Herb Book, an A-Z of Useful Plants’, more than twenty years after she first published it, I can hear her voice, steamrolling over any possible objection.
even the smallest of backyards can be transformed into a
fairy-tale herb garden with sweetly scented roses climbing up
the wall and cushions of low-growing thyme and chamomile
spilling over the gaps between the paving stones.

If anything, the secret to Mum’s passion is in that word, ‘useful’, in the book’s title. She was a fen farmer’s daughter through and through, and she loved herbs because they had never – unlike exotic fruits or other expensive plant specimens – belonged solely to the aristocracy. ‘Herbs are somewhat humbler than the spices,’ she writes with approval. When she was researching into the history of herbs, she was studying what she might herself have used in different periods through out history. Ordinary people were always what interested her most.

In the novel I’m writing at the moment, my narrator is renovating an historic garden. This is how she explains her job:
Although I design historic gardens for a living, my work is never just about the past. The plans for most of the gardens I work on were first created hundreds of years ago. The gardener could have no idea how his garden would look like when it reached maturity so what I have to do is to put myself in his shoes and try to capture what he can only have imagined. In some ways, I have to dream someone else’s dreams for them.
I’m sure this was how Mum approached her herb garden designs. Although she was a stickler for historical accuracy and would spend hours in libraries and the Cathedral’s own records, she never saw herself as creating a museum piece because the plants and their stories were so completely in the present for her.
Gardeny gardens. Booky books. But always with the mission to entertain. The last thing my mother would have wanted was to have been called an expert, and especially not an intellectual. She was in awe of those around her whom she considered the real expert gardeners, including Rosemary Verey, Beth Chatto, Christopher Lloyd, Penelope Hobhouse. She would tell us about meeting them as if they were rock stars, seeing herself just as someone who loved stories, and she carried on reading and writing because she liked nothing better than to hear new ones.
It makes me smile now to turn to the introduction to one of the two books she wrote with my father, and see these lines the introduction:
If, on a warm afternoon in the summer of 1537, you had chanced to be at a certain country fair in the Cotswolds, you might have observed an authoritative but cheerful monk in a black habit talking briskly with a seller of agricultural sundries. You would have been struck, perhaps, by his eagerness to examine every item on display and to extract from the vendor every available morsel of information, news and advice. You may have smiled, as those about you would have done, when the vendor, weary of the barrage of questions, pushed a tiny pouch of seeds into the hands of his friendly but troublesome inquisitor and bade him take his enquiries elsewhere.
Although Mum was writing here about the monk-gardener Stephen, she could have been writing about herself. Her first job was as assistant to the women’s editor of Farmers Weekly and it left her with an ability to get people to tell her things. If stories came first, then people were a close second.
She’d come back from her research trips to gardens round the country for both In A Monastery Garden and her guidebook, Herbs and Herb Gardens, A Complete Guide, wishing she could write another book just about the new friends she’d met. Her favourite was the scruffy looking gardener who spent the morning showing her round one garden before she discovered – of course - that he was the titled owner. But there were plenty of others too, the more eccentric the better, and when she and Dad turned part of our garden into a series of Elizabethan-style herb gardens, they came to our home too. Far too many to count who only wanted to talk about herbs, herbs, herbs.

After we all left home, Mum continued to research, design and publish. It’s hard, I think, for children to admit their mothers may actually know anything interesting, but there always comes a time – often sudden and shocking – when we see them as a person in their own right.
For me, it took a Valentine’s card. For years, she’d made us all our own cards every 14th February with sprigs of dried herbs that had special meanings just for us. One year, she made an extra one and sent it to her main publishing love, the magazine, Amateur Gardening and its then deputy editor, Alan Titchmarsh.
Interestingly, it was Mum who was embarrassed when they photographed and printed the card as a cover story. The rest of the family thought it was funny because sending a love token to a gardening magazine summed up everything about her, and what she had become.
Yes, she was still the strange woman, often wearing mismatched Wellington boots, who had a habit of lurking in the garden and jumping out at my friends from behind a bush for a joke, and she was also definitely still the recluse who would hide in the library, pretending she hadn’t heard me calling so she could have a few more minutes with her books, but her commitment to sharing her passion for herbs through gardening, teaching and above all, writing, was something I could be proud of.
Mum died in 2003, and now, of course, books about herbs are everywhere. It’s hard to remember how groundbreaking Mum’s work seemed at the time. Some of the resistance she came across is acknowledged in this one sentence from Stay Slim with Herbs & Spices:
A few years ago we found it difficult to persuade any of our students even to try herb teas without grimacing and muttering ‘not for me’ or ‘dishwater’. But times are changing.
Changing times indeed. Writing about herb gardening was a way for my mother to let other people enjoy her excitement about traveling through time. It’s a trait shared by many of the gardeners and gardening writers she respected. By showing us how to look closely at a small parsley plant, for example - by really taking in every detail and seeing how it had been used and still could be – they allow us to see a much bigger story about ordinary extraordinary people.
The sort of stories she always loved best.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Out Soon - The Alternative Kitchen Garden - An A -Z

This new book by Flange member Emma Cooper is out very soon - 18th August.

And this is what the promo has to say:

An A-Z By Emma Cooper

“An indispensable compendium for a new generation of eco-conscious kitchengardeners.” Elspeth Thompson, The Sunday Telegraph gardening columnist

The Alternative Kitchen Garden is an evolving idea of what a kitchen garden could be inthe twenty first century – organic, environmentally sustainable, resilient and aboutrelocalising at least some of our food production. Its also a place not only for learning andpractising growing skills but for enjoying ourselves and having fun. Both an idealcompanion for anyone getting dirt under their fingernails for the first time and fullfascinating ideas and experiments for the adventurous gardener.

A self confessed ‘cyber geek’, Emma began to document the transformation of her ‘ropeyold lawn with potholes and brambles’ into a fertile and abundant permaculture plot viainternet radio and a popular blog site. Eight years on her postings and stories have beencollected in here, illustrated with beautiful colour photographs and arranged into easilyaccessible alphabetical order. Covering subjects as diverse as growing achocha (a lostInca crop) to zucchinis, and forest gardening to xeriscaping, Emma’s style is light andfriendly yet at the same time informative and based on personal experience – you feel youcould actually be sitting in the garden chatting face to face as she shares her knowledgeand experience, especially when she veers off into non directly garden related tangentssuch as osteopathy and freecycling. A concise and valuable practical guide, and a lovelyread that you can also dip in and out of on the deck chair or hammock!

“Emma Cooper is an unstoppable force, one of life’s positive people, and The AlternativeKitchen Garden sets out her inspiring personal vision of how to grow own.” Emma Townshend, The Independent on Sunday gardening columnist

I hope to have a review of it up soon - GMx

Friday, 24 July 2009


It seems the YouTube Flange vid has been pulled. I'll try and find another.

Meantime this is what a Flange is

STOP PRESS - Now fixed - click on "Don't you know" to the right

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Guest Blogger Goes Bookaging

A while ago I went to the Hay Festival to see Dan Pearson's talk called Inspiration - the title of his forthcoming book in September - and to devour all the gardening books in this fantastic secondhand bookshop town. It even has one devoted to natural history and gardening titles and so - I thought - would easily supply me with enough reading matter for the rest of the year at least. How wrong I was. All I came home with was a history of the Chelsea Flower Show - a meagre haul from such a promised land.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to Norfolk. I was desperate for a view, any view after being surrounded by so much flatness and so pitched up one day in the slightly decaying seaside town of Cromer. A sharp shower sent me scurrying for cover and I was surprised to find myself in a secondhand bookshop sheltering from the rain. I was even more surprised to find the anticipated riches of Hay on Wye transported to this quiet little backwater. It wasn't a one-off phenomenon either. A quick search of the three other secondhand shops in the town all had rich seams of gardening books to plunder. However, the first one was the best by far, staffed by an enthusiastic lady who was delighted 'her' books would be going to a good home. Here's my haul:

  • Not one but two Vita Sackville-West first editions - In Your Garden and In Your Garden Again

  • Ground Cover Plants by Margery Fish. A pristine Garden Book Club edition

  • Gardening on Chalk & Limestone by E. Bertram Anderson. Another pristine Garden Book Club edition

  • PH19 The Flower Garden by E.R. Janes

All are in good nick complete with their dustcovers. How much did I pay? Just under 50 quid with a book on needlepoint cats thrown in for free. Apparently a couple of weeks earlier a woman interested in garden history had hoovered up a number of titles in that genre, so I dread to think what the damage to my purse would have been if she hadn't been there before me.


(thanks VP - bookaging is like foraging, but for books - GMx)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Review - The Angel Tree

For summer holidays when I was a kid I used to pack more books than clothes – at least one for every day of the trip.

Earlier this year, as a gardening obsessed adult I packed only six books to last six weeks.

The first one I opened was a 'gardening travelogue', which seemed appropriate. Alex Dingwall-Main's 'The Angel Tree' follows the author on his travels across the Mediterranean as he tries to find the oldest living olive tree and bring it back to France for a very rich client.

Alex Dingwall-Main is an English garden designer, living in France. At the beginning of the book he has a serendipitous meeting with a local chateau owner. In what is written as a rather haphazard attempt to design something impressive enough to win the client over, Alex suggest an ancient olive tree for the courtyard. The idea of owning something so noble proves irresistible, and Alex is hired to track down the oldest olive tree that will survive in the local climate (Provence not being the ideal location for olives because of the cold winters), uproot it and bring it back.

You're then taken on what is meant to be an entertaining romp as the author travels across France, Spain, Italy and Greece in search of a 'mill├łnaire' – an olive tree over a thousand years old. There are certainly plenty of characters to meet along the way, although the only likeable ones are the trees themselves.

I won't spoil the ending for anyone who wants to read the book – the quest is finally successful, but not in the way that you would expect. In fact, in the final chapters the author and his client redeem themselves slightly; most of the time they come across as entitled buffoons who don't give a monkey's for anything other than making an impression.
With its open-ended budget and a lavish carbon footprint, I found this story to be unrealistic and very annoying. If you added in some high-end CGI and a car chase in the closing scenes then it would make a passable Hollywood blockbuster. The author rarely remembers that this is a gardening travelogue, but occasionally throws in the Latin names of some of the plants he walks past on his travels. There is a separate section at the back with details about olive cultivation and the production of olive oil, but there's very little useful information here for people attempting to grow olives in the British climate (although it's heartening to read that olive trees seem to be virtually unkillable).

All-in-all I would classify this as a book to be read while the sangria is making your head fuzzy and you've got sand between your toes. Leave it in the hotel when you leave. Better by far was my second choice – Elspeth Thompson's Urban Gardener.

Emma Cooper

Monday, 20 July 2009

Flange activity

Not only is it a busy time (hence lack of bloggage), but also an exciting one

- with lots* of books coming out from members of the Flange no less.

Watch this space

*OK - so I say lots - I mean some. We have Emmat T's but there are at least three more.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Look at that pipe!

I have recently acquired a later edition of the Gardening Expert which I blogged about a while back and this new one is in REALLY good nick.

I have no idea of the date, other than it's still pre-decimal.

It seems odd they changed the cover simply by redrawing what they had before and the contents are identical (older one top RH).

I also got these two old versions of Hessayons dating from 1980 & 1978 respectively.

Definitely Mabey

Feeling a bit down, I headed off in search of books. I know I have plenty to be getting on with but that's not the point.

It may have been my jaded state, but nothing I found really grabbed me. Not even in my favourite second hand bookshop. I picked up a couple of things, but put them back down after a couple of minutes.

Just as I was about the leave I spotted this tucked away.

It's a book I have wanted for a long time and even though it is an enormous tome, I just couldn't bring myself to buy it new (bad I know).

Quickly, I snatched it up, paid the 12 quid asking price and scuttled off grinning.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A Touch of the Oscar's

That's a phrase I sometimes use to denote a complete cave-in on the resolution front.

"I can resist anything, except temptation."

You may, if you have very, very good memories recall this post.

I lasted six whole months after that, until I buckled and bought the book.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Darwin's Dogs

Flange member Emma T, not only has a book coming out .

But she also, I hope, has her life back after being holed up for what seems to me absolute aeons, writing it.

Hopefully she will be back regularly blogging soon.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Moonlight shadow

It's nice to have a ... what's the phrase?... I guess a shadow blog.

A blog that is something different to one's main blog and about some small (perhaps obsessive) part of one's make-up.

I have this book blog - and although I would welcome all and every contribution from others - it is largely a window on my OGBCD (Obsessive Garden Book Collecting Book Disorder).

Likewise Sarah Salway has a blog about benches as well as her main one.

Her latest post is about a book.

One I sent her as it happens.

If you knew how much it pained me to part with it, you would realise her refusal to send me another Mirabel Osler book in return is just plain ungrateful, even if it is was worth £100 and then one I sent her just a few quid.

(sobs theathrically in the manner of Heather Mills)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Around and about

Just a couple of bits

Cut-price shed book via Alex The Shed. The RRP is actually £25 not £20 - so even more of a bargain, for a book with a title made up of two words that don't immediately appear to go together.

And a review of one of my heroes Ken Thompson's latest from Emma "Muppet" Cooper. Em has quite a lot of booky stuff if you put book into her site's search bar.

Why she's not a Flange member I really don't know


Friday, 10 April 2009

Strange habits

I know that I have previously mentioned my terrible habit of having several part-read books on the go at once.

I’m not sure what that says about me. A butterfly mind? An inability to commit? Someone who takes on more than they should? Who knows.

Sometimes this worries me a little and I make a concrete effort to get the number of “ongoing” books down. However this then makes me think that I’m not doing so bad and so I start adding to the “ongoing” pile all over again.

It is, I admit, a bad habit.

But I know someone who has a much odder bookish foible. He can’t go to bed if he has just finished reading a book, unless. He has to start another one before he can go to sleep.

Now that’s just plain weird.


Thursday, 2 April 2009

Advertisement Feature

Kelmarsh at Home
Sunday June 14th

A Book Festival Celebrating
Home and Garden Writing

Kelmarsh Hall welcomes guests who treasure fine interiors and beautiful gardens to its first Book Festival. The event explores good living, good design and the personality of home.
Once the residence of Nancy Lancaster, society decorator and owner of Colefax and Fowler, Kelmarsh Hall still bears the imprint of her shabby-chic flair and gardening panache. The elegant Palladian Hall with its virtuoso gardens is the perfect country house retreat to host a book festival.
Speakers include:
a) Professional gardener turned award-winning author Stephen Anderton on his latest passion, Discovering Welsh Gardens, and a sneak preview of his work in progress: a biography of gardening doyen Christopher Lloyd.
b) Celebrity Granny, cookery writer and gardener, Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, talks on her latest foray into generational perfection, The Good Granny Companion.

c) Decorating expert and Farrow & Ball consultant Joa Studholme guides listeners through the opportunities Colour offers to transform your living environment.
d) Prolific author and academic Katie Campbell’s Paradise of Exiles revivifies the eccentric Anglo-Italian set of Tuscany as they gardened and gossiped their way through the dying years of the nineteenth century.
e) Acclaimed biographer Martin Wood ranges through the tradition of country house decorating and previews his next subject, Laura Ashley, designer and brand queen.

f) Columnist and anthologist Ursula Buchan surveys the bygone post-war gardening scene and its true characters – including Nancy Lancaster in Garden People: Valerie Finnis and the Golden Age of Gardening.

g) Andrew Wilson, Chelsea Flower Show judge and designer, Tim Richardson, landscape critic and historian, and Stephen Anderton debate what makes gardens personal and how they bear the character of their makers.
h) Geffrye Museum deputy director, Christine Lalumia, speaks on the representation of interiors and gardens in painting.

Ticket prices £8.00
To register for a booking form, email or call 01604 686543
Notes to Editors:
Location Kelmarsh Hall is on the border of rural Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, 5 miles South of Market Harborough and a 20 mile drive from the M1 and M6.
Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens are owned by The Kelmarsh Trust, a registered charity. The Gardens are Royal Horticultural Society
For press enquiries and images, please contact: Lesley Denton at the Estate Office on 01604 686543 or


I'm sorry.

I've been really crap at putting posts up here.

I will try harder.


Saturday, 14 March 2009

What a snip!

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.

Jane Perrone

Horticultural - The organic gardening blog

Thanks for the Guest Blog Jane - GMx

Child's Play

Last year an anthology of writing from Hortus came out. It wasn‘t the first - there were two previous anthologies “By Pen & By Spade“ (1990) and “The Generous Garden (1991). Both are no doubt no longer in print, but still available from secondhand bookshops, Amazon, Ebay etc..

Whilst looking through the first of them recently (for something unrelated), I found the following opening line to the essay “Gardening for and by Children” by Will Ingwerssen.

“To my knowledge there is no gardening magazine or periodical that includes a page to encourage an interest in gardening directly to children.”

What a great idea, and surely a point more valid than ever.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


In a slightly alarming piece of synchronicity just a couple of days after posting that I had two of this series of books I came across another one for sale.

As it only cost a few pence I couldn't not buy it.

Now I have three and hence a collection.

Luckily they are very slim and won't take up much space.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the addition of a few new Flange members.
Firstly Graham Rice, who I trust needs no introduction, and in addition to writing the things clearly in the advanced stages of book addiction, as these posts testify. Graham also DJ's, so I imagine his place is also awash with CD's and vinyl.

Next up is Sue “Trillium” Beasley. Well known in the UK for winning the BBC’s Gardener of the Year, her RHS show gardens at Tatton Park and her nursery.
Sue says she was sagging off from doing RHS Diploma revision as she’s reading
but Maggie Campbell-Culver's 'The Origin of Plants'. I reckon the revision must be deadly dull, because I found that book a bit dry and am still only about halfway through it, having picked it up and put it down a few times. Mind you in my case that it true of far to many books.

Lastly, but by no means least, we have one of the stars of the UK garden blogging firmament the blogger formerly known as R Pete Free.

Welcome to the Flange, book lovers.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Love is blind.

I say that because I have yet to come across a Penguin Handbook on horticulture who’s cover I didn’t adore - even this one which is ‘orrible.

It is PH 50 - The New Vegetable Grower’s Handbook [1962], was written by Arthur J Simmons who wrote the earlier Penguin Handbooks, The Vegetable Growers' Handbook Vol I & II and was published 4 years after his death.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Report report

Following New Shoot's comment on the last post, I feel I should explain that I bought the RHS Council Reports solely for the amusement of looking at the 20 to 30 pages of adverts at the back, featuring such things as boots for horses (so that they wouldn’t damage the turf as they pulled enormous lawnmowers), since the rest seemed to be a list of RHS members (all 170 pages of them).

But I've since had a closer look and the results are, I have to admit, mildly interesting. As I have said the last 30-odd pages are ads, and the first 8 pages are also ads, but imbedded within them are such things as Notices to Fellows, including offers of free poppy seeds from the RHS's then Secretary Rev Wilks (breeder of the Shirley poppies no less).

There is then the 10 page annual report, plus accounts. After that there is a list of the RHS council and officers, followed by a list of the Victoria Medal holders

Strange how some of the names like Gertrude Jekyll and Ellen Willmott, have remained well known, but others such as Rev Charles Wolley Dod, a hugely well known horticulturalist in his day, are not familiar to most gardeners today.

On closer inspection, even the list of members is vaguely interesting, including as it does the likes of Reg Farrer.

It does emphasise how, in many ways, the Edwardian period represents a high-water mark of British Gardening.


Thursday, 22 January 2009

What Have I Done?

I can usually justify a purchase - somehow.

But these I cannot.

They are RHS Council Reports and serve no useful purpose.
I bought them all the same.

What bothers me most is that I only have to come across another one to be able to invoke the Siadwell Principle, and then I shall have to collect the whole blessed lot.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Pre-Spring Clean

I have been tidying my books. I would say organising, but in truth they were no more organised when I finished than when I started.

In the process I did discover that I have a pair of books from the Studies in Biology series.

As Flange members will know this is according to the Siadwell Principle dangerously close to the beginning of a collection.