Book Review

The Pruning Book

by Lee Reich

The Taunton Press. 1997. Can be ordered from Taunton Direct, Inc., 63 South Main Street, P.O. Box 5507, Newtown, CT 06470-5507. Phone: 800-888-8286. $27.95 hardcover. 244 pages.
(Price/availability info may have changed since original publication of review.)

Reviewed by Robert R. Chambers (5/1997)

The latest book from Lee Reich is an excellent example of an elegant book on a mundane subject. The 150 colored pictures are beautiful, the typography is refined, the whole book says "quality." It is not quite a coffee-table book, but it is a pleasure to look at. Reich covers the subject pretty completely in a measured way. The diagrams are good. The advice in areas where I have had experience seems appropriate. He starts with a general section on tools and procedures and the theoretical background of pruning. Then he takes up specific plants, species by species, in groups such as deciduous ornamental bushes, then ornamental trees, evergreens (both coniferous and broadleaved), ornamental vines, edible fruits and nuts, houseplants and herbaceous plants. The plant groupings are intended to enable users to know how to prune a plant even if they do not know the species. I was particularly interested to notice that Reich comments on specialized pruning applications: pollarding, pleaching, topiary, standards, bonsai, espalier and even lawnmowing and scything. The diagrams are excellent.

Reich recommends this as a book to be read when there is snow outside in the winter. It is indeed much more readable than the usual how-to books. At the same time it does a good job of providing directions when the time comes to take action. It is not, however, an exhaustive book; that is, it does not list all the ways of doing everything. For most gardeners, however, it would be a good choice for a first book on this subject and will be a pleasure to own and read.

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