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The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening (4 Volumes)

by Anthony Huxley

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291670,090 (5)1
This book encompasses a vast range of plants grown on a domestic or commercial scale in private gardens or present in specialist and botanical collections. They are plants grown for ornament, for amenity or for economic use, and they include a selection of cultivars. 50,000 plants are described, including many hundreds of cultivars. It gives concise botanical accounts of species in cultivation throughout the world, in line with the latest taxonomic thinking and it gives practical advice on how to grow every plant described. There are over 500 articles on horticultural science and practice, newly commissioned from leading authorities.… (more)
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How does one review such a hallowed tome as this, perhaps only a fool dares!

The four volume RHS Dictionary of Gardening was first published in 1951, this New edition is presented with a quite different layout, and more extensive in its coverage with much additional material. The compilers had the benefit of computers too in compiling and collating the information.

Its aim is to provide the garden with all the information he needs today to pursue his interests. But how far can one collection of books go towards that end?

It certainly goes further than any single work I know. Covering nearly 4,000 genera of plants, and around 50,000 plants based the work of 500 contributors, advisors and researchers it is without question comprehensive. While essentially a reference text book it does include about 375 line illustrations. It also includes entries on horticultural practices etc. It is unsurprisingly arranged as an A-Z. Each genus has an introduction including notes on cultivation and propagation followed by a list of plants providing a botanical description and the plants place of origin. USAD Zone hardness designations are also often included. These descriptions are somewhat sterile and devoid of comment as one would expect, and as with any dictionary a number of abbreviations are used. A glossary is included to explain the botanical terms.

Work on this edition stared in 1987, and was ten years in the making, that in itself presents a problem of keeping up to date. Does it live up to its claims? There is no question that this is a most comprehensive work, but it is not all inclusive, it is possible to find plants that are not included here. The information is also on occasion questionable. While this edition was compiled in the 1980-90s, many of the sources used are much earlier, so some of the information is by today's standards quite old, and not always reliable. I have found on more than one occasion details such as propagation methods given for a particular genus which today's experts in that field do not accept as viable.

Of course with so much information it is easy to find fault, but it is worth bearing in mind that this is not an infallible gardeners' bible. However it is a monumental work, and a very useful source of reference containing in one place information that one would otherwise have to search for. It is also worth bearing in mind that despite its possible errors it is probably a lot more reliable than an internet search, where one has to be very careful to check the authenticity and accuracy of the information found. ( )
  presto | Apr 24, 2012 |
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Wikipedia in English (175)

Acer × zoeschense

Acer cappadocicum

Acer japonicum

Acer lobelii

Acer sempervirens

Acer truncatum

Fontanesia

Franz Josef Ruprecht

Fuchsia boliviana

Gaura lindheimeri

Glaucidium palmatum

Gleditsia caspica

Phoenix roebelenii

Phrymaceae

Phyllanthaceae

Plantago major

Plumeria obtusa

Podocarpus alpinus

This book encompasses a vast range of plants grown on a domestic or commercial scale in private gardens or present in specialist and botanical collections. They are plants grown for ornament, for amenity or for economic use, and they include a selection of cultivars. 50,000 plants are described, including many hundreds of cultivars. It gives concise botanical accounts of species in cultivation throughout the world, in line with the latest taxonomic thinking and it gives practical advice on how to grow every plant described. There are over 500 articles on horticultural science and practice, newly commissioned from leading authorities.

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