Book Review

The Grafter's Handbook

by Robert J. Garner

Cassell PLC, Wellington House, 125 Strand, London, WC2R oBB. 1995 reprint. Softbound, black & white photos and line drawings, 323 pages.
(See CRFG Book Service for prices.)

Reviewed by Claire Guggenheim (11/1995)

I have always thought that we should carry a book on grafting but I had never found a good one. Thanks to Dianne Hand's Bits & Pieces and some prompting from Matt Heffron, Inland Empire chapter chairman, I discovered this wonderful book. I contacted the U.S. distributor and was able to get a very good price for our members.

Since joining CRFG in 1981, I have been around grafting a lot but mostly to watch. David is the grafter in our family but after reading this book, I think I could do it myself. The 121 line drawings are so detailed you just can't miss. The book begins with a very small glossary but, being in the front, it gives the novice a chance to catch up on terminology and also introduces words that he may have to look up as well.

I was fascinated from the very first chapter, titled "Grafting in Nature and Antiquity." I have seen the grafting process and heard the rules of the procedures many times, but I never learned how the process actually occurs until I read this chapter. In subsequent chapters, the author discusses compatibility and cambial contact, rootstocks and their propagation, collection and treatment of scionwood, and tools and accessories.

This is followed by the meat of book, "Methods of Grafting." The author has limited his selection of detached-scion techniques--90 pages of different methods--to those that are practical and interesting. He begins with a description of the different approach-graft methods and then moves from the simple to more complex detached-scion grafting methods. He clearly explains each stop through text and line drawings and often opines when to use what and what doesn't necessarily work. The description of tying methods is so detailed that no one should ever again have to worry about this part of the process.

The chapter on tree-raising in nurseries gave me an added appreciation for the effort that goes into what we typically find in our nurseries. I have seen some of these techniques on field trips we have taken here in California. Now, if I get truly ambitious, I have a ready reference to fall back on should I decide to try it.

The chapter on grafting established trees is a godsend to all of us who inherited trees or want to redo what we tried earlier. The section on repairing was a real eye-opener. I had only heard of "bridging" as a bad thing that happens when the tree heals the girdle before an airlayer takes. I was amazed at some on the things grafters do.

The Grafter's Handbook has long been viewed as the encyclopedia of plant propagation by grafting. Everything the dedicated amateur, the student or the professional horticulturist wants to know about grafting can be found here. Even though it was originally published in 1947, it has been continually updated through 1988. The author has amended or supplemented each paragraph when new information seemed relevant or worth including. The newer editions include entirely new topics in appendices at the end of the book. The current edition is the 1995 reprint of the 5th edition and includes discussions of replant diseases, weed control in nurseries by herbicides, and micrografting, particularly fascinating. If you are at all interested in grafting, you must have this book.


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