Updated: Sep 14, 2022
I am a lover of the written word. Hardly surprising as someone who writes for a number of magazines and has a blog; you may very-well have already guessed that. Despite its obviousness, writing, specifically garden writing, has long interested me: providing an opportunity to understand the approach others take to the process of gardening, the value and appreciation of plants and theories behind garden design. I collect books and long have done, with several thousand on all things horticultural, garden and plant (as well as other subjects of interest) adorning shelves in my office and elsewhere throughout my home.
While I inevitably use the internet for a lot of research for work, I gravitate towards books as my preferred sources of information.
As such, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favourite books with you as a guide to help anyone setting out in professional horticulture or garden design or the keen home gardener find to useful and interesting resources.
In most cases, good garden, plant and garden design books should be heavily adorned with images to explain ideas. Scenes of sumptuous planting and clever design being far better explored visually than (almost) any description could ever conjure in the mind's eye.
For simplicity I have broken into categories and provide only three of each type. In this second post of the series I will look at two subjects and offer my favourite three books on each. Narrowing down selection was in itself a challenge, but important to be clear and helpful. In this page, we will cover Pruning and Training Plants and then 3 books on Growing Fruit. Most are designed for the professional market, but a keen domestic gardener, or student in garden design or horticulture would, I'm sure get a good deal out of them.
Essentially, this is the iPlantsman reading list!
Pruning and Training Plants
Niwaki by Jake Hobson (of Niwaki the Japanese garden Tool supplier) There are lots of different approaches to pruning, but the Japanese approach is something worthy of reading about separately. You will find with a simple search that there are lots of books on Japanese or Asian style pruning and training as well as Bonsai books. I like this one as it understands the principles and relays them in a western way. Possibly more topiary (which I think I will cover separately) than pruning and training in most cases, but still very interesting and with achievable works to undertake.
RHS Pruning and Training: Revised New Edition; Over 800 Plants; What, When, and How to Prune by Christopher Brickell is one of those very useful definitive texts on the a subject that is full of very useful images and guides to make your life easier and explain an idea in good detail. Incredibly useful and like everything Chris Brickell has ever done, of very high quality indeed.
The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers by George E. Brown, revised and expanded by Tony Kirkham. I didn't know George, but I do know Tony and most professionals at least will know him as the long-time curator of the Kew Arboretum. He knows his stuff and George obviously did too as Assistant Curator of Kew and a founder of the Arboricultural Association. This is an expert guide with detail well beyond the needs of most domestic gardeners. Tree surgeons, arborists, foresters and professional gardeners who want to master pruning need this in their life however and will benefit from it as I have over the years.
The Pruner's Handbook: Practical Pruning Advice for Healthy, Beautiful Plants by John Malins is all good info, but as last print was in 1995 some newer techniques are missing. It is a great book for a pro gardener to have in their van as a reminder when out on a job though.
The Fruit Gardener's Bible: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruits and Nuts in the Home Garden by Lewis Hill is a confident title indeed and it does pretty much what it says it will. As with all books listing plant names, it is at the mercy of new introductions, so newest fruit varieties will not be mentioned. All the great mainstays of the fruit world get described and guides on establishment, harvesting, pruning, etc provided in good detail. Plenty of images, with the only slight issue being that as an American book one or two varieties are far less grown in the UK and a couple of terms are different on either side of the pond. Otherwise it is a really useful resource.
Growing Fruit: Kew Mini: The art and science to grow your own fruit: 4 (Kew Experts) by Kay Maguire is a great little handbook on growing fruit containing a wealth of diagrams, drawing and painting and Jason Ingram's excellent photography to support the text. Very easy to use and invaluable to get an overview of the subject. Definitely suitable for domestic gardeners and useful for professionals offering guidance or undertaking works as well.
The Fruit Tree Handbook by Ben Pike is a very UK focused guide and packs a lot of information into its pages. Readable for domestic gardeners and very useful for professionals, especially to brush up skills during lunch breaks. Lots of fruit is discussed and growing them in a UK garden or landscape the key takeaway.
Growing Fruit Trees: Novel Concepts and Practices for Successful Care and Management by Jean-Marie Lespinasse and Évelyne Leterme. This book has been recommended to me and receives rave reviews, but I have not yet read it so can't comment.
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