University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

Cuttings from My Garden Notebooks.
Graham Stuart Thomas.  1997.  Sagapress.  368pp, hardcover.
Noted for his specific books on topics such as perennials, roses and shrubs, the author distills a lifetime of encyclopedic knowledge here into 63 essays.  Plants, techinques such as alpine troughs, famous gardeners, design ideas and more are treated with "humor, common sense and a poet's grasp of the English language."

In it the author "offers encouragement and guidance for those who are just beginning to garden, and a wealth of information for experienced gardeners."  Included are a few photographs, and two dozen line drawings mainly by the author who is also noted for his artistic ability.  He has been described as one of the "towering figures of the art and craft of gardening of all time."

Gardeners are often asked what their favorite flowers are, but this author puts it a bit differently and in a way we might all think about.  If he were stuck on a desert island, what are the fewest genera he could be content with.  His choices?  "...Narcissus, Iris. Rosa...These few could span the year with flowers."  And of course he goes on in his typically short chapter of a few pages to describe his favorites.  It's a great book to just pick up, open and read a chapter or two.

If you are not already familiar with the author, another well known author Allen Lacy puts it well in his introduction.  "If the word plantsman did not exist, it would have to be invented to describe Graham Stuart Thomas.  Indeed, in a sense the word does not exist:  in my dictionary there is a conspicuous lacuna where it ought to be...But everyone in the world of gardening knows what a plantsman--and of course the word must cover women as well as men--is.  A plantsman is someone whose whole attention is absorbed by green and growing things in all their variety, provided that they satisfy the eye, the mind, and the spirit.  Botanists are interested in plants as plants, without discrimination...Landscape architects and garden designers are more discriminating about plants, but for them plants are one element in an overall aesthetic scheme.  Plantsmen are different creatures altogether, for in them two things coincide:  encyclopedic knowledge and deep passion.... The rest of us are singularly fortunate when a master plantsman who is also a writer comes along..."
 


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