This is quite a contrast to the book I reviewed recently. It covers the same subject area, but in a very different style. Viewers of BBC2’s Gardener’s World will be familiar with Carol Klein. Her enthusiastic, conversational broadcasting style comes through into the book, I think. Little bit grating in large doses but not fatally so.

The book is structured by technique, starting with seed collection and sowing, then cuttings of various types and so on through divisions, layering etc. The section on seed collection is pretty thorough with helpful pictures and advice that I will use this year. There is a good section on division with good descriptions of how to manage them.  

There are colour pictures throughout , often laid out as step by step guides. The pictures are good quality, colourful and with plenty of closeups showing techniques.This is what was missing from the Peter Thompson book, which was more of a technician’s book with some diagrams but no pictures. If the two books could breed and have a hybrid offspring, that would be a great book! 

Step by step
Basal cuttings

A criticism I’d make of Carol’s book is that she is profligate with her sowing advice. Seed trays and modules galore – fine and dandy if you have plenty of space, or aren’t sowing many varieties, but otherwise costly in both space and compost terms. To be fair, she does at least concede that half-trays are adequate for most needs. This book is also comparatively light on specific advice and technique, leaving it to quite discursive sections where it is sometimes difficult to pick out the pertinent parts. Her chatty style basically makes it harder than it should be to follow the advice. I don’t mind the chatty style for the most part, it compares well with Thompson book which is a little dry, although jam packed with actionable advice.

Overall I think the book is a useful addition to the gardeners library, although I think I’d be left wanting more if it was the only book I had on propagation. If forced to choose between this and Thompson’s book I would jettison Carol, I’m afraid, albeit a little reluctantly. Happily I have room for both, and this book is a good companion to the more technical books. I got my copy for about 3 quid from abebooks.co.uk, good value for a book in very good condition that was £20 new.

Published by BBC Books 

ISBN 978-1-84607-847-7

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