My Mum’s garden is pretty much a blank canvas at the moment and recently she’s been diligently planning some beds and borders she would like to implement over the summer. Although a keen grower with a fair amount of experience, she’s been browsing through some of my horticulture books for inspiration and advice about what to plant where.
This morning, she asked my opinion on a border plan she’d found in one of my older books, the title and author of which shall remain nameless. The plan suggested planting a border using a range of plants whose growing conditions were divergent; ranging from semi-shade moisture dwellers to sun-loving, sharp drainage requiring specimens. The accompanying illustration depicted everything in flower, making it look as though this was the actual appearance of the border. I suspect this was done for illustrative purposes but until we figured it out, my Mum laboured under the misapprehension this theoretical border would be mind-bendingly flowertastic. It also listed a few varieties I was unfamiliar with and some superficial digging revealed they are no longer available, probably having gone out of fashion and/or out of production.
So, a caveat on horticulture books, particularly vintage ones. It is ok to have so many of them you think you may need to devote/build another room solely to house them. And it’s ok to love, pore over, glean advice from and even sniff them. I especially enjoy going through old and even really old texts to find forgotten plants and growing methods that can still be relevant today, but I try to keep in context that some of the advice is out of date and some of it is just plain misguided. Even modern-day texts can dole out rubbish advice. As with everything in life, a bit of critical thinking should be applied to even the most authoritative sources.