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New Shoots Old TipsBOOK REVIEWS

New Shoots, Old Tips
As Heard on BBC Radio 4

Caroline Holmes
Frances Lincoln
Distributed by Bookwise

New Shoots, Old Tips started out as a couple of radio series for the BBC broadcast in 2001 and 2002. Now designer/author Caroline Holmes has plucked her gems on the timeless quality of gardening back from the airwaves and put them into print.

The modest book is a thoroughly researched ramble through garden history and lore laced with the author's wry humour. However, the array of gardening "sources" threatens to become a little overwhelming, among others: Thomas Jefferson, Virgil, Sam Beeton, John Claudius Loudon (publisher of the 1822 Encyclopaedia of Gardening and founder of Gardener's Magazine, Thomas Rivers (19th-century fruit breeder extraordinaire), the plant hunter Robert Fortune (who introduced the Chinese gooseberry to New Zealand) and even Peter Rabbit and Popeye.

We learn snippets to drop into conversation: the word salad stems from the Italian zelada, "a dish devised to the festivities in 15th-century Milan, consisting of a salty ragout." and that "basil thrives on dead men's entrails".

The illustrations, many culled from long ago garden treatises and catalogues, will intrigue the garden historian. These and the choice of photos lift the book (among favourites is a stern group of Edwardian garden staff and a small girl pushing a barrow, circa 1920). A fascinating read if you're right into garden history: others may find it heavier going.

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: March 1, 2021