This book is a treasure trove of advice and technique and readily accessible to the rank amateur (that’s me!). I think it strikes a good balance between the likely abilities and time-poverty of the typical gardener and the necessary minimum work required to get some propagation going. It is also well balanced in limiting technical horticultural pernickety details whilst giving enough information to be useful. The book starts with some basic plant growth and habitat information which sets the background for how, when and why plants propagate themselves and how we can best take advantage of those evolved survival behaviours to get free plants.

There follows some very logical, practical advice about efficient use of space which I have referred to in a previous post  which reset some received wisdom and practice in my mind and I’m looking forward to a hyper efficient  (relatively speaking) 2017 as a result.

Rather than being organised by propagation technique (eg softwood, semi mature, hardwood, seeds etc etc), the author has the chapters by plant group and weaves the techniques in to this. The book then refers back to techniques as needed.

The author provides extensive lists of plants or shrubs that can be propagated in the method described.

There is some excellent advice on the timing of propagating activity which refers back to the opening chapter on plant behaviour. This challenges some sacred cows of propagating, almost urban myths, which are commonly held.

The book was first published in 1989 and revised in 1992. I have the later edition. To modern eyes the main element lacking is colour pictures and step by step how-tos. There are diagrams and sketches but these leave me wanting more. That said, the descriptions are very clear and the diagrams do help.

The final chapter describes a hypothetical year of maximum propagation in which a super-powered gardener goes bonkers with every kind of propagation on every type of plant. It’s helpful in many ways and illustrates too the folly of taking on too much.

In the appendix there is a list of plants and suitable propagation methods and timings thereof.

All told it’s a great reference book and very readable to boot.

I got mine on for a couple of quid. This book has saved me that cost many times over in more or less the first chapter. I recommend.

Published by Batsford

ISBN 0713471182

I’ll be back…