The Pruning Book

At some point, nearly every gardener will face the necessity of pruning a treasured plant. The thought of slicing away parts of a living, growing thing may be cause for some consternation. Questions arise: Do I need to do this? Can I do this myself? How much do I cut—and when? In this revised and updated edition of The Pruning Book, Lee Reich provides the answers, along with numerous clear and easily understood graphics and photographs.

The book is divided into three sections. The first part lays out the reasons for pruning plants, explaining why we must be “cruel to be kind” and what tools we will need. Reich explains the different methods of pruning and the response of plants to proper cutting practices, such as heading and thinning. He lays out what equipment is required, how it is used, and how it should be maintained.

The next section of the book deals with pruning techniques,  practices, and schedules for specific groups of plants—from conifers to houseplants. Special pruning needs are addressed as well as methods of restorative pruning for neglected gardens. These recommendations are particularly welcome in a pruning manual, as many gardeners “inherit” neglected landscapes, yet these problems are rarely addressed in books of this type.

The last part of the book covers specialized pruning, such as topiary, espalier, and pleaching. With The Pruning Book, Reich has created a concise and attractive work that will help gardeners cope with the seemingly counterintuitive concept of chopping back their little corner of Eden.

Steve Gerischer, garden designer
Los Angeles, California