Books for experts and novices alike

Theres a wide range of gardening books to choose from. Picture by Tom Pattinson.Theres a wide range of gardening books to choose from. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
Theres a wide range of gardening books to choose from. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
There's something rather special about opening a surprise present and finding a new book.

The shelves in this study groan under the weight of gardening tomes ancient and modern, some are reference, others general, and they’re all valued.

Heaviest is the RHS A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. It covers 15,000 plants, with 6,000 photographs, and is used regularly, with computer back-up to trace cultivars introduced since its publication.

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By comparison, I find the RHS Latin for Gardeners ageless. It has over 3,000 plant names, which are explained and explored.

Presents for a keen gardener perhaps, but for something more down to earth you can’t go past a title in the Expert series of paperbacks by D.G. Hessayon. Fruit, vegetables, house plants, rock and water plants, and bulbs are some of the subjects he’s covered in a concise, yet captivating way.

Key growing facts, delivered in words and illustrations, are packed into each book, which has in excess of 120 pages. The Vegetable Expert, for example, covers common and offbeat types, such as potatoes and Chinese artichokes.

The section on tomato growing, indoors and out, reveals basic varieties, soil facts, sowing and planting times and methods, and looking after the crop. Key facts include germination time, expected yield per plant, seed viability (three years) and approximate time from sowing to picking (16 weeks). And the illustrated section on tomato troubles is very helpful.

These books are great value for money.

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There’s still time to purchase an annual subscription to a gardening magazine, which is one way of ensuring the present will last beyond Christmas.

Garden News is published weekly, delivered by mail and is full of practical advice and ideas. The price is halved when you pay for a year up front, and two free packets of seeds each week more than cover the initial outlay.

You could gift a year’s membership of the RHS, which includes monthly delivery of The Garden, its glorious magazine, and other benefits.

Better still, buy an annual pass for one of our local gardens open to the public.

If none of these ideas hits the spot, you could fall back on the good old gardening voucher. This does reveal the cost of the present, but at least the recipient has a choice in the matter.

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