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I have all of his. The Clematis one is very useful.

Good thread. I've just made my Christmas book list! Thanks guys!
Verdun wrote (see)
 I agree with earlier comments that the chemicals used in the old days were so powerful and destroyed everything and anything that moved or breathed. Pretty scary the stuff they used. It's a wonder the gardeners themselves survived! Christopher lloyd's books are a favourite.....

"Whoa up there" you just lost me, what heavy chemicals are we talking about here considering GC's did not exist and gardeners were not noted for spending money on faddy things?
The only chemical I ever saw was Bordeaux mixture which you can still buy. A mix of copper sulphate and slaked lime, slaked lime being Calcium Hydroxide (it helps if you worked at ICI) and that is often used in food products, the only chemical I saw my Father use in all his years as a good gardener.
He sent me out into the fields to fill a bucket with mixed droppings, dry cow pats and sheep's which we put in a sack sank into a barrel of water left for a week or so then used as plant fertiliser at the rate of a cup out of the barrel to a watering can of water. When topping the watering can just do not put the cup of brown liquid next to your cup of tea, the taste was not recommended.
The planting system used was one row for the birds insects and nature two rows for us, you made allowances. The system was by rotation which meant the same crop did not grow in the same place each year, It is one of the best ways of controlling disease.
Heavy chemicals came into farming in the early fifties but not with us small holdings, the use of solid fertilisers came in much later and were only banned a short time ago, many of the garden pundits of the time advised using them. We had plenty of natural manure so carried on with a system that had worked for the family since pre world war one, why change a winning system.
It would be interesting to know which chemicals you mean and how they were used, the biggest threat I remember was muck spreading with early machines that threw it all over the driver as well as the field and the wire back stop only meant you got covered in smaller drops of it.
You were in more danger of being bowled over by the old sow than poisoned.



Frank, if you read back you'll see I recall helping my mother apply DDT to brassicas when planting out in the veg garden - that would have been in the late 50s/early 60s.


I do recall Percy Thrower quite happily spraying his roses with one of those stirrup pumps on television with a chemical with no face mask and the spray going everywhere and nobody thought that was abnormal.

I still have his book-there is no mention of organic or wild -life gardening then-that was considered old-fashioned and now there were all these chemical aids available for the quick fix

1970's probably

Happy days



Sorry Frank, but there are references in the oldest book I have to using Nicotine as an insecticide. Admittedly this was for the professional gardeners at big Houses, but it was easily available to anyone.


Christopher Lloyds books - good idea for Christmas list. I have visited Great Dixter a couple of times,and love the philosophy behind the garden. Thanks

Sorry folk can only give my own experience which would today be called organic apart from Bordeaux Mixture, at the time we just thought it natures way or Dad did.
We would lime the patch for the brassicas, dig plenty of manure into the other patches and let it over winter. We had so much green in the garden that the leaves with holes in got pulled off and the rest eaten, we would find the odd caterpillar in school meals and just put it aside, hungry lads were not put off.
Gardening was not my main interest in the 50-60's so the chemical age probably went over my head, saying that, what goes into those instant weed killers they use today, if it is toxic for weeds what about dogs kids and us??



We have moved on Frank-there was a period when people struggled to grow crops-it can't have been easy in the 30/40/50s to get an efficient return on what was grown so people resorted to all sorts of methods

Then DDT was available to the farming community and gardeners alike-the wonder cure-till we found out that this was a bad thing

Then there were all sorts of chemical magic mixes that did everything-a lot of those have now gone

My opinion is we have now reached a sensible compromise-turn to the chemical if we have to but there are organic alternative-that is not for everyone-the point is most chemicals are not the evil ones of a few years back- but there are still concerns for our bee population and wildlife

As regards weedkillers -they are safe once they have dried on the plant-but like all things if instructions are followed there shouldn't be a problem

People complain about the nanny state and health and safety but these procedures are in place for a reason not just to annoy

Sorry -now what was the topic again?



I enjoyed reading all the Anna Pavord books, especially The Tulip.

There are not many witers now of Christopher Lloyd.'s type, sadly. And at least he WAS writing from his own experiience.

My son usually buys me a gardening/plant book for Christmas, but this year and last I struggled to find one that was not best described as a 'coffee table' book. Where are the good modern writers?


My favourite garden book is "The Prickotty Bush" - by Monty Don, before he was famous.  Its like "A year in Provence" for gardeners.  Worth hunting down (I think its out of print, but Amazon sometimes have second hand copies).

Right again Geoff we move on although the Army used DDT as a delousing agent, luckily I was always well back overlooking events in an armoured vehicle, what happened to those people and the lads using the pumps I wonder??
The subject was books of which I have many some falling apart and some, "well" pristine, full of pretentious rubbish, only my opinion of course.
I find the RHS books get most use.
House plants, that is well used and in your greenhouse Percy Thrower a well written book although as mentioned he does advocate the use of Nicotine smoke generators, and other chemicals. He does say read all of the label, open all doors and windows but that giving plants the correct treatment will stop pests and disease. ( I have dug it out of the pile to reread and find that apart from the smoking bit it is full of information people can use today).
Some of the Readers Digest books I was given are fairly well used, some good information on plant needs and welfare, a couple of modern books on garden make overs, looked at and put aside, they were presents, would not buy them myself.
I always look at the gardening section of the Town library (yes we still have one) to see if there are any new books, nothing I would take out lately although some good old ones for a read when the TV is rubbish.
You take you pick, the choice is ours.



I have more gardening books at home thatn there are in our Library. Mind I do have 16 metres of shelves of them!

Woodgreen wonderboy

My express wish to you all is that you read as many of Christopher LLoyd's books and articles as you can find. His output is, and will remain, timeless. And if you get the opportunity to see his garden at Great Dixter, E. Sussex, go and go again.

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