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Gardeners Dig New Dictionary

August 02, 1992|JAMES E. WALTERS | Associated Press SPECIAL FEATURES

While there are different ways to garden, certain basics can't be ignored, such as a plant's cultural needs and growth habits and how to judge things such as soil and watering.

Regardless of where they live, average gardeners as well as experts will find solid and practical information in the just-published New Royal Horticulture Society Dictionary of Gardening.

But the price--$795 for four volumes with some 3,200 pages in a 9-by-11 1/2-inch format--seems likely to cut its general usage.

"All the way through I was very anxious to keep the price down," said the editor, Mark Griffiths, who began work on it more than four years ago. "It could have been a lot more expensive, let's put it that way. But if one thinks about it as a basic gardening library in one book, it's not really that great deal of money."

He was interviewed by telephone at the end of a 2 1/2-week tour of the United States promoting the book, which is published in the United States and Canada by Stockton Press of New York, N.Y., and in the rest of the world by Macmillan Publishers Ltd. of London.

By using advanced computer technology, the dictionary seems to have met its goal of supplying internationally relevant, accurate, consistent and up-to-date information on things such as botanical names, common names, propagation of individual plants and cultural methods. More than 50,000 plant descriptions are included. Climate and hardiness is defined for each plant, with its U.S. Department of Agriculture zone supplied.

"I was concerned about getting in too much botany and not enough gardening," Griffiths said. "But there's no reason you can't give people good botany as well as good gardening."

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