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I saw the other day some one referring to Percy Thrower,(I have his Books) and wondering if his information still stands.I have an old book that belonged to my mother  called " out lines of a small garden" by C.H.Middleton printed in 1945 ,with black and white photos.The information in it I do still use but not all of it but it is interesting to see gardening in this period and the changes now.I do have a stack of books and of course Monty dons is just one of them,but this old book has something about it,maybe its simplicity of a bygone age .


I now possess a copy, very tatty now, of 'Adam the gardener'. Circa 1954 via Daily Express I thnk. Some of the basics are still useful.

Am ashamed to say that as a small child I was a scribbler in books but must have been interested even then! J.


A lot of the information is still valid - pruning roses and apple trees is still pruning roses and apple trees, and how to make compost etc hasn't changed although the types of compost bin available have.

However, a lot of the pesticides and treatments recommended in the past are now unavailable (thank goodness).  I clearly remember as a child helping my mother to dust Brussels sprout plants with DDT  as one of the gardening programmes had recommended - it's a wonder that some of us are still here!!!  


II have a reasonable memory and have read a lot of the old gardening books, It is amusing to see the same old passages being written in modern books where the new author has just lifted passages from the old books. Ask yourself, how can someone of the age of the modern author have been around gardening long enough to have the experience they claim when writing their books? I often wonder how much of their 'knowledge' is book learning.

Gary Hobson
Berghill wrote (see)

... Ask yourself, how can someone of the age of the modern author have been around gardening long enough to have the experience they claim when writing their books? ..

You can also make similar speculations about many television presenters, and what they say, and pretend to be knowledgable about.

I sometimes think that some TV presenters are just reading material that has been researched by someone else, from something that they found on the internet.



Berghill and Georg, I do think that's a little unfair - we all learn from others - that's how we progress - we wouldn't get very far if every generation had to re-invent the wheel would we?

I'm quite happy to pass on tips I've learned from others who have had more or different experience than I do and whose opinions I respect - don't you do the same?


There is a difference between learning from the experience of others and wholesale copying of material and presenting it as ones own. That is what I was commenting on. To prove it to myself once, I found the passge in a modern book and found exactly, word for word, the same passage in a book from the early 1900's. How is that learning from the past? Actually the reason why I looked was that the info was wrong in 1901 too.

Gary Hobson

What I'm commenting on is that several TV presenters try to pass themselves off as experts, when they are nothing of the kind.

I've often seen TV presenters show some technique, or recommend some plant, when I've tried that myself, and know that it doesn't work.

Dovefromabove wrote (see)

.. whose opinions I respect ...

This is the key point.

Whose opinions do you respect?

There are some TV gardening presenters whose knowledge and opinions I do respect, and there are many that I do not.

Pennine Petal
And learning from others on a site like this. I hate it when presenters talk about small gardens and it looks huge compared with mine.

Books are for reference as they are written for a particular type of gardening, vegetable, floral, decorative, jungle and can only give a general over view.
Each of our gardens will be unique with its own micro climate, soil conditions and how it was used before falling into our gentle hands, a building site or well tended.
Having seen them all Percy Thrower like my father gardening in jacket and tie, double digging and removing every weed, Geoff Hamilton, a man after my own heart never throwing anything away in case there was a use for it later, and the modern boy wonders, cover it all in decking instant plants and rainbow paints.
They all write books of which I have one or two bought as Christmas presents and they all appear to use passages from older books putting a more modern twist to it, although the falling to bits books are the very old ones I have had years.
People are coming back to real gardening for economic reasons or to taste fresh food as it should be, they need to be guided, any book will have some good tips or information for new comers though they will get much better information from the older generations who have made all the mistakes and learned from them on boards such as this.
My advice is search through the charity shops and find a selection of books, you will often find they have never been opened and the best ones Royal Horticultural Society books giving lots of information go for cherry bobs. Just remember even the best books will only give you guidelines for your own particular patch.



Very true.

I am told that the modern book with the copied passage was one of the ones sent to the Charity shop as being less than useful.

I am trying to find a passage in one very old book. The gentleman writes that he caught a group of youngsters stealing apples from his orchard. He rounded them up and CANED them, girls and all. Imagine what would happen if one did that now!

Gary Hobson
Berghill wrote (see)

Imagine what would happen if one did that now!

It would solve the problem of repeat offending.

Goodness knows, there have been enough threads on here about shed and allotment vandalism.

Berghill, in my misspent youth I too raided an orchard even though we had our own fruit, a little gang of us scrambling through a hedge and on climbing back out saw the dreaded legs of the local bobby. He lined us up and with his glove full of beans gave us all a smart wrap round the ear, boys and girls.
He then marched us up the drive to apologise to the old Lady who lived in the house which we duly did with lowered heads. She thanked the Bobby then told us to walk up the drive and take what we wanted as she did not use most of the fruit.
Two points, not one of us even thought about disobeying the Bobby and second we never did go back to pick the fruit although my Father would pick it for her and put it in baskets at the end of the drive saying take what you want free.
I did learn stolen fruits have a sting, that glove full of beans round the ear hurt, luckily my Father never found out or there would have been another thick ear.



Ah, but now there would be no policeman, except if you are very very lucky driving past cocooned in the safety of a metal box. And the most likely thing would be that he/she would use a Taser on you (but only if you waved a white stick). Then of course you would sue for massive compensation from the Police force and from the old lady for allowing the police to behave like that.

Having grown up in an area where the only greenery was the grass growing in the cracks of the cobbles in the back alleys, scrumping apples was not an option.

To go back to the original posting, I am very lucky in that I have a large collection of Gardening books ranging in age from the later 1800's up to modern Timber Press Monographs on various plants. I enjoy them as Books not just for the information they contain. Sadly we have a problem now in that I have run out of space for more and many of the books I would love to own are way beyond my pocket. And none of this type ever appear in Charity shops these days. They have become very much more aware of the value of books than they used to be.




D'you know I've got that & havent even read it yet! J.



Talking about how books have changed. i have just read in an old Expert book that lilies can suffer from slugs, aphids,and occassionally mosaic virus .

Obviously red lily beetle had not appeared at time of printing.

I love reading old gardening, narrative style, books. But 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.....his experiences and humour make for good reading. Not too many writers like this now, are there?

Christopher Lloyd   Now you're talking!!!