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on 15 February 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Dr. Hessayon's "Expert" books have dominated gardening literature for years. There have been all round general garden books in the range before, this new edition however is larger and strikes a balance between detail and covering a wide range of topics. Everything one would expect from a gardening book is here: flowers, fruit & veg, greenhouse gardening, pests & diseases plus hard lanscaping and practical matters. Dr. Hessayon embraces modern approaches including architectural plants and gardening plus wildlife and organic methods.

I already have a number of the "Expert" books, and shelves and shelves of gardening books by other authors. This one however will stand out as one to reach for time and again due to its breadth of subject material and crucially its ease of use. There are plenty of things I need to look up and this book is easy to follow and find things in and is a small handy size - not a huge hardback that's an effort to lift down from the shelf.

The layout is the classic Expert style with photos, illustrations and diagrams. The plant directories include a good range of popular plants with a concise summary of their attributes. Anyone choosing a tree or shrub for their garden might want more detail before committing, but this is a good guide to start off with.

A refreshing thing these days is the mention of chemical control products that are available and still widely used. Although I avoid chemicals (with the exception of glyphosate on the ground elder - life's too short to keep digging it out) I dislike the "holier than thou" approach to organic gardening found in so many books these days. None of that here - if you have aphids then reach for the thiacloprid! Dr. Hessayon does approach organic methods however in a very brief way and the composting section is very useful.

A very good book. It would make a great gardening book to start off with if you don't have any, and it's still useful for anyone with an existing gardening library for its ease of use and wealth of information.
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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is not Alan Titchmarsh. It's Hessayon. If you have read any of the other Expert series you will know exactly what to expect. If you are a fan of Mr Titchmarsh then this will come over as a bit dry and very terse. There are few wasted words, no flowery prose and relatively few exotic photos. But there is lots, and lots, of factual information crammed into every page. It is a compendium of many of the other Expert books and manages to do in a little over 200 pages what Alan T took two full coffee table books to do - provide a complete guide to gardening. If you only want one garden book and don't have enough cash for the RHS mega-tome this is the best on offer. If you want a book to browse through in a winter evening while sipping a glass of brandy then buy Titchmarsh. They are both valid approaches and I like having both around, but if I could only have one, it would be this one.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The book provides, as promised, a condensed edition of the 'Expert' series, structured in such a way as to be genuinely useful

i) as an overview giving novices some really good starting points,
ii) as a general reference for more experienced gardeners.

The book is longer than any of the individual "Expert' titles (256 pages, including the plant index) and the 16 chapters this book it is divided into provide absolutely masses of information in a generally well-structured format. The style is factual and authoritative, providing detailed descriptions of tools, techniques, plants, problems, etc. This is a book of serious advice for gardening, rather than watered-down lifestyle ponce.

Excellent though the quality and quantity of information is, there are times when the inclusion of a general index (rather than just a plant index) or better collation and/or cross-referencing of information from the various books would be a useful.

For example, in a chapter on 'Garden Troubles' you're taken through managing 'Slugs and Snails' as a pest problem 3 times (under separate headings). In the first entry, under 'Flower troubles', you're told that the standard method of dealing with these pests is to use a scattering of slug pellets, but also referred to an extended section on p.155 under the heading of 'Vegetable Troubles' which gives greater detail on control (including the use of non-chemical methods such as sand, beer traps and nematodes). However, if you had referred to the book for dealing with these pests in connection with 'Soft Fruit troubles' you would have found mention only of slug pellets (p.161) - with no cross-reference pointing you to the extended information including more organic pest-control methods.

5 stars for the quantity, nature, and level of information provided, and the clear, concise style in which the book is written. However, the absence of an index for reference purposes means that the book is less user-friendly than it could have been.
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VINE VOICEon 4 November 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the perfect garden guide for Everyman - not necessarily a gardening obsessive, but the kind of person who enjoys tending their patch, brightening up their home with some flowers and shrubs and growing some vegetables for their own table. It's not a commercial grower's guide or a book for experts (despite the title). It's really the kind of book that aims to take thr place of the knowledgeable dad or neighbour - it's a gardening mentor, there to give you ideas, share its experience and helpo you out when you hit problems.

The great virtue of this book is its sheer scope. It's divided into useful quick-reference sections on different kinds of plant, such as flowers, vegetables, herbs, trees & shrubs, roses and fruit. This is a great chapter to use for plant identification - you won't find the really rare specimens here, but if you've spotted a plant in a neighbour's garden you like, or are looking for something not too tall in a nice bright yellow, this is the place to go. There's a separate section on garden tasks, where you can learn exactly what's meant by jargon such as "earthing up" or "hardening off" and discover how to make your own compost. The guide to tools explains in words of one syllable exactly what each item does and how it should be used, and there's a handy introduction which takes you through first principles of garden design and maintenance, explaining about the impact of different soil types and weather.

Most valuable of all for me, though, was the brilliantly simple section on garden problems and pitfalls. This clearly describes and illustrates the damage most commonly wrought by weeds, garden pests, diseases and disorders, along with clear instructions as to prevention and cure. I was able to identify a puzzling problem I'd had this summer with my greenhouse tomatoes simply and quickly - and learn what to do to stop it recurring.

Whether you're a total beginner or a weekend hobbyist, whether you've inherited an established plot or have a wilderness to tame, I really can't recommend this little paperback highly enough.
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on 21 March 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Whilst not the obvious complete versions all in one book, this is the next best thing. A fabby 'best bits' guide to all things gardening.

Dr Hessayon is a prolific and capable author and this version of his 'Complete' series The Complete Garden Expert: The Expert you've been waiting for - All the gardening Experts condensed and updated into one enlarged volume gives you all you need to know.

A nice gift for a novice or enthusiast gardener - lovely.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have had many of Dr. Hessayon's books over the years - I have inherited a couple from my Grandmother - although they are a little dog-eared by now... and have used them on a regular basis, especially now that we have a new home with a big vegetable garden.

Amazing books - packing huge amounts of always relevant information into a relatively small space.

This new book is a large volume with the most useful bits from a wide range of the previous volumes.

It has a full section on vegetables, another on garden plants and other sections on diseases, garden layout - and pretty much everything that the gardener might need to know.

Seems a very useful starter book for the basic gardener - although you might want to get one of the more specific books for more detail of a particular topic.
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a compilation of a series of books that have been available for some time. Having read and tried a lot of so called "Gardening" books, most of which are only good for the coffee table, I have long felt that any serious gardening enthusiast would need no more than the relevant "Gardening Expert" books already available. This compilation is excellent and if you've never read one of the others in the series, will be quite invaluable.
However, it is no substitute to specific books in the current series and in condensing the series, some of the detail suffers.
Use it as a starter if you are new to the books and then buy individual ones as required.
There is no doubt that the "Gardening Expert" series are the best available - concise, practical and straightforward - and although somewhat lacking, this "condensed" volume is still hard to beat.
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VINE VOICEon 2 May 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am new to gardening. And when I say new, I mean I barely know one end of a spade from the other. As such this book has been an absolute life saver! It really goes through all of the basics - how to dig correctly, how to find out what type of soil you have, how to care for your lawn - the lot.

I would say that this edition is not for the pro. If you are a gardening guru then you might be better off investing in the more specific titles in the series. Especially as some of the info is repeated here in this book. But, all in all, you can't go wrong with this book.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have to say that I find the first three "Vine" reviews here to be very wide of the mark indeed. One reviewer complains because he's already bought the individual volumes and now finds much of the information in them republished much more cheaply; quite so, but would he have been happy to wait anything up to 50 years for the condensed version to appear ? And if you already have the individual volumes you want, then would you not be foolish to buy a condensed volume of the same publications ? Not to mention misguided to complain about the fact that some of the volumes you do have, and therefore don't need again, are not covered ! It is unfair to request free books under the Vine programme, and then review them as if you had been conned into buying something you didn't want...

It should be fairly obvious to everyone that this publication is not aimed at those who -- like me, also -- have already purchased various self-contained volumes in this series (inter-alia, I bought the first ever issue over 50 years ago); it should therefore be considered in the light of its intended market, which, upon a reading, is clearly the beginning gardener who has no previous experience either of this series or of gardening. That said, the publishers have not, to my mind, done their author a service by describing it as the volume we "have all been waiting for". Those of us familiar with the series will obviously not have been waiting for it, whilst the rest will not be aware that they are waiting for it (although they should be)...

With over 50 million copies of the original series sold, its worth is simply unchallengeable. Whilst there are those who may find the almost comic book presentational style not to their taste, it is aimed squarely at those whose needs are not suited by, for want of a better description, the more "intellectual" gardening writers, such as, at random, Robinson, Jekyll, Fish, Lloyd, Lane Fox, Chatto, Verey, Thomas, Jefferson-Brown and many more of that ilk. Nevertheless, despite the lowbrow format, the quality of the advice and information offered in this series, and in this volume in particular, is equal to the very best available in the world of gardening literature. I now have many hundreds of gardening books, including, to name but a few, those by the other authors herein mentioned, and, for the last 25 years, a five acre garden to boot; and I can assure everyone that they will do far better by starting out with this volume then with many other glossier how-to-do-it gardening books, and ad-stuffed magazines with "celebrity" writers. There is no more respected writer in modern gardening literature than Dr Hessayon - see his many awards.

The reviewer who complains that the book tries to cover too much ground should put herself in the position in which I found myself some 50 years ago when I acquired my first house with a garden, but with no previous experience of anything beyond houseplants and a window box. I wish I had had this book then. The gardening newbie who buys it will have all the advice he needs to make a start on just about every aspect of his new garden, and will save himself a fortune in various specialised publications, not to mention wasted effort - thus allowing more expenditure on the garden and gardening itself...

Finally, having looked up Doctor Hessayon on Wikipaedia, I find that he is even older than me ! I cannot but admire his continuing energy and his devotion to making expert gardeners of us all; at 84, with more than 50 million copies already under his belt, he can hardly be doing it for the money...

If you have just acquired your first garden, and are about to buy your very first gardening book, you will not regret making it this one - just as I didn't regret forking out my one shilling and sixpence over 50 years ago.
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have just flicked through this book cover to cover, making notes about the sections that I definitely plan to go back and read so that I can look at the detail thinking specifically oy our garden. I have noted at least 6 differnt dections which will be very helpful and include detailed information which I haven't seen mentioned in other gardening books which I have read a number of over the past 8 years I have been gardening.

I would have given this book 5/5 but haven't as I felt that some of the information was slightly outdated. As well as a compost heap a lot of people now have wormeries and additionally I didn't feel there was much on organic or a more natural approach to gardening. Still, I think the information within this book would give anyone a comprehensive guide with enough information to get them off to a good and in the case of the section on garden design, part of the way to setting up their own gardening business.

A good overall guide to gardening for the beginner and the more experienced gardener.
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