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VINE VOICEon 15 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The author of RHS Botany for Gardeners is Geoff Hodge, who is a freelance gardening and horticultural writer based in the UK. The book is highly attractive, beautifully produced, printed on quality papers with botanical type watercolour paintings and illustrations on almost every page. As the illustrations are artistic, beautiful rather than photographic, they do not always reveal sufficient detail about the plants as one would sometimes wish. The book is well organized and intelligently edited into 9 chapters: The Plant Kingdom - Growth, Form and Function - Inner Workings - Reproduction - The Beginning of Life - External Factors - Pruning - Botany and the Senses - Pests, Diseases and Disorders. There is an Index as well as a Bibliography. Royalties from the sale of the book go to support the work of the RHS.

The aim of the book is to provide gardeners with sufficient botanical knowledge to help them understand more completely how plants grow, flourish, and reproduce, as well as understanding the factors, internal and external, which affect their well being. The inference is that a more knowledgeable and better informed gardener should be able to achieve better results. The text is always botanically scientific, but written at a level comprehensible to most educated people, and any specialist botanical words introduced are always adequately explained first. The book is practical rather than cerebral and only those principles of botany are discussed which would be of natural and practical interest to gardeners. At intervals throughout the book there is a double page interlude devoted to describing the life and work of a famous, and not so famous, botanist from the past; fifteen botanists in total, always interesting, who contributed in their unique way to the history of botanical discovery.

The book introduces some species of the plant kingdom which may be little understood by gardeners, although to be found in every garden... the algae, mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns. Conifers, Cycads and Ginkgo, and the more familiar flowering Angiosperms are discussed as well as how plant names are derived from botanical Latin: genus, species, hybrids and cultivars. The role of meristematic tissue in plant growth and cell specialization are illustrated as are the different types of buds, root structures, stem modifications, including woody growth and underground stems. The internal structures in leaves is revealed as are the different types of flowers and their fertilization producing the wide variety of seeds and fruits and their varying means of dispersal. The microscopic structures in cells and their importance to photosynthesis and plant nutrition, as well as water transportation, are examined, including a section on plant hormones. The botany of plant reproduction is studied including vegetative reproduction, simple division, offsets, grafts and cuttings, pollination secrets, and even apomixis (seeds without sex) are described and analysed. Other subjects discussed are: plant breeding, seed dormancy, germination, seed saving, soil types and structure, soil fertility and plant nutrients, the plant's physiological responses to pruning, phototropism, photoperiodism, geotropism, even scent as an attractant. The final chapter deals with the botany of plant diseases and pests, especially how plants defend themselves and what action the gardener can take to help.

The book doesn't claim to be comprehensive, it is but an introduction to a large and serious subject and, with over 3,000 botanical words and terms explained, it does provide the information, the basic knowledge, a gardener needs to understand the natural forces at work, acting and interacting, within his garden. Perhaps knowledge is very close to power? And, of course, powerlessness.
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on 2 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the kind of book that is a joy to own as a physical object. It has a sturdy hard cover which is embossed in gold and has an integral silk place marker - it exudes quality and style. In these days of eBooks, Kindles etc. - this kind of book reminds you why the real thing will never cease to be a pleasure.

Every page has wonderful, painted illustrations in full colour and there are numerous helpful diagrams, as well as photographs of botanists. (I have added a photo to the customer images at the top of this page showing a typical example of the contents.) The size is slightly smaller than A4, but the book feels substantial and there are over 200 pages, packed with information - everything you would want to know about plants and how they work.

The RHS name guarantees quality and the rigourous nature of the science - but the tone is never patronising, while giving clear and useful explanations of botanical terms and horticulture. It's the kind of book that you dip into, rather than read cover-to-cover and anyone with an interest in gardening or growing plants will find some sections useful, to provide definitive answers.

There is a huge amount of information here, but the visual style and organisation make it a pleasure to dip into. The Contents are split into nine chapters with further subdivisions, outlined at the beginning - there is also a comprehensive index of terms at the back - so it's easy to find whatever you want.

Overall a book that the RHS can be proud of and a definitive reference work, that is also enjoyable to read.
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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
At age 11, I chose which secondary school to go to, based on the simple question of which schools in the area included botany O-level in their curriculum. There was only one, so that was where I went. Unfortunately, they withdrew the subject before I got to study it. I wasn't pleased. However, I did do biology, which included some botany. And since then, my interest in botany has not waned. I do plenty of gardening, including growing fruit and vegetables. I also do voluntary conservation work, including coppicing, hedge laying, re-planting etc.

Based on that background, it's fair to say that this is a book that should interest me. And, I'm happy to say that it does. It's a great book, that I wish had been available when I did my O level biology etc. The diagrams and artwork are great, the explanations of the science are very well done - at a level that provides good explanation but without going too deep into the science. The range of subjects covered is excellent too. I'll list a few and why they are useful to me, but the coverage goes well beyond this:

* The Plant Kingdom, including algae, mosses, lichens, ferns, conifers, flowering plants, hybrids and cultivars - all things that are present in my garden

* The structure of plants (form and function) - buds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, bulbs - giving a basic explanation that is useful to any gardener

* Inner Workings - cells, photosynthesis, nutrition, hormones - again, useful to any gardener trying to get the best from his/her garden

* Reproduction, germination, sowing, saving seeds - the basics that everybody needs to know about, if you don't want to spend a fortune at the garden centre every year

* Soil, pH, nutrition, pruning, light - knowledge needed to get the best from your garden

* Pests - insects, fungi, viral, bacterial, parasitic, breeding for resistance - if you've lost entire crops (as I have over the years) to blight, slugs, cabbage fly, etc., then this will be interesting to you.

It's a great range of subjects, explained at a reasonable level, with great illustrations. It also feels like a proper book should (you'll know what I mean when you pick it up). The paper is slightly yellow, and some of the print is quite small, so readers of a certain age might want a decent reading lamp, but the book is so good in other ways that it's worth putting up with the paper and font size.

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on 22 December 2016
Beautiful book, the illustrations are wonderful. It lays everything out for you from the inner workings to the growth and function, it even explains pests, diseases and disorders. The font size is small which thankfully ins't a problem for me but if you do have visual problems you may struggle a little. Its comes with a light green satin ribbon to bookmark your pages which is always helpful. Its a gorgeous book to own and would make a brilliant present for anyone interested in botany.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Published under the banner of the Royal Horticultural Society, this is a book with an amazing wealth and breadth of detail about the growing, health and welfare of your plants. It includes everything from the nature and structure of soil, soil improvement where needed, the various methods of cultivation including collecting seeds, bulbs and other vegetative options and where and when they be best employed. Pruning and day-to-day maintenance is also covered, but in a more generalised form rather than with specifics for different species or varieties. Pests and diseases are not forgotten, either. The book uses a scientific and specifically botanical approach to its subject rather than the pragmatic, non-scientific approach most often found elsewhere.

There is much more including several short articles about famous horticulturists or plant collectors of the past and brief articles about some common garden plants and how to care for them, their pruning, cultivation etc. However, in a few more than 200 pages, it cannot be completely encyclopaedic or all-inclusive and there are many omissions that have needed to be made. That is a reasonable compromise in order to keep the size of its book, production costs and retail price at reasonable levels.

The book is very thoroughly illustrated, sometimes with several examples per page, although the majority are larger and about 1/4 page in size with a few full-page. Although it may not be the ideal bed-time read, that in no way is intended to devalue or otherwise detrimentally comment on the book. Its contents come from the cumulative knowledge of many contributors with many decades, or perhaps centuries, of collected knowledge between them and it is there where its value is greatest.

For its varied content the book will be a useful presence on the bookshelves of anyone with an interest in plants or gardening although it may be less comprehensive than some reviewers appear to require. However, it could easily be a companion to a more comprehensive tome that includes data on a broader range of plants, trees, shrubs etc which may be commonly planted or found but excludes some of the more general and possibly basic contents of this one, none of which should be forgotten or omitted. It is all very relevant.

First-class and informative.
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on 1 January 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very attractively produced book, being well illustrated with that most beautiful art form, the botanical print. The RHS has a large archive of such material and it enhances this book no end. For more of these see the lovely Treasures of the Royal Horticultural Society. These illustrations are here to beautify however, they only relate very generally to the text.

This book is aimed at gardeners and amateur botanists who wish to know just a little bit more about botany and plant biology than is contained in the average gardening book. All those botanic terms are explained a little more fully, and the science behind how plants live is much more detailed. There's also information on the leading botanists through the ages.

It does contain gardening advice through its discussion of the underlying science; however this is a secondary string in its bow and in no way replaces a proper gardening manual. Likewise, the gardener may glean information on the many plants featured, but again a gardening manual is a must when choosing plants.

The book is arranged in self contained chapters so it there is no real developing thread requiring the book to be read in order and as a whole. As such it is delightful as a coffee table book to browse as much as a work of reference.

Being much too slight for the serious botanist, this carefully treads the line between detail and aiming for a more general audience, which for the most part it does well.

An obvious choice for a gardening gift, but a welcome addition to any gardening library as well.
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on 26 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Both I and my mother are interested in gardening, though her experience far outweighs mine. I got hold of this book both for me to expand my knowledge and for my mum to enjoy and hopefully get something from too. We both agreed that this really is an excellent book for both beginner and experienced gardener alike.

On taking hold of the book the feeling of quality is instant. The cover is beautifully illustrated and embossed, looking superb and marking it out when sat on the shelf or the coffee table.

The tone of the book is clear and concise. It talks on a level with the reader, neither talking down nor trying to overwhelm with details. This is where I particularly found it a great reference work as I could follow the subject matter without it feeling forced or contrived. From taking you through the life cycle of plants to understanding the details of how species and lines evolve it all felt clear and interesting. My mum enjoyed the detail and particularly the information on some of the botanists who have devoted their lives to understanding plant life. So both beginner and enthusiastic, experienced amateur are well served.

The illustrations within the book are simply stunning. Diagrams are clear and of worth whilst the art work of various plants, flowers and fruit are fantastic. It really is something looking that if placed on a coffee table anyone could leaf through and simply enjoy the artwork within it.

In summary a really brilliant book from the RHS and something for any gardener, or anyone else for that matter, to enjoy.
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on 19 January 2018
I am currently studying the Level 2 RHS Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture and I can honestly say that out of all of my study books - 'RHS Botany for Gardeners' has helped me with my learning and general know-how of horticulture TREMENDOUSLY! It is presented beautifully with clear diagrams and pictures of flowers (Latin and English names provided). The content and text is also very clear and concise making plant biology topics much more easier to digest. It's a great size, not too big, which is really helpful for reading 'on the go' and the price is incredibly fair considering how many topics this book covers. I have been recommending this book to all of my class mates and I'd say that even if you aren't studying for a formal qualification in Hort - I would highly recommend it for any enthusiastic gardener who is keen on brushing up their plant knowledge/practical skills too!
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on 7 April 2017
If you are a general gardener and want some general advice about how to grow plants or want to know more species, maybe this is not the book you should get.

The reason I say this is because the book gives a broad overview of the different classes of plants, their reproductive cycles, binomial nomenclature system of naming plants, cell structure, plant hormones, morphology, plant diseases, soil and much more content/info such as the history of famous botanists such as the first woman to win unshared nobel prize Barbara Mcclintock for cytogenetics.

I think quite a lot of the information would be classed as 'advanced' unless you remember your plant biology from school or possess plant knowledge from your own study/degree etc...

It's got lots of lovely illustrations and the chapters are well laid out. Definitely a lovely read!
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VINE VOICEon 14 January 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wish that I had owned this book when I did an RHS course some years ago - it is the most excellent introduction to botany that anyone could hope for. It demystifies what is a serious scientific subject and makes it approachable to any reader who is the slightest bit interested in plants and how they function. At the most basic level it works as an excellent guide to seed sowing and growing, how different soils can affect plants, feeding of plants, pruning, diseases and so forth. However, I hasten to add that this is not a gardening handbook as such: it will guide you through the principles of some aspects of hands-on gardening but more importantly help you to understand how plants grow, their functioning parts, the way they reproduce, why certain things happen to them and how you can improve things. Add to that the first-class botanical diagrams and the really exquisite paintings of plants and the fascinating biographies of 14 botanists and illustrators and you have a five-star volume. It has an illustrated cloth binding and a silk book marker and, although it would grace any coffee table with style, it is much more than that - a top notch book for any gardener. Should be at the top of every wish list if you have any interest in growing things. One of the best books on the subject that I have ever seen.
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