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Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning: What, When, Where & How to Prune for a More Beautiful Garden Sasquatch Books, $17.95

August 12, 2004|Carolyn Huffman Kimball

Fearful pruners have a mentor in Cass Turnbull, founder of a cheeky Seattle-area organization called PlantAmnesty, which is dedicated to thwarting "mal-pruning." Turnbull's emphasis is on allowing a plant to grow into its best and most natural form, rather than whacking it back year after year in a futile bid to turn it into a perfect globe or shrunken shrublet.

While Turnbull is passionate about prudent pruning to an almost alarming degree (don't get her started on the evils of shearing), her folksy tone and sense of silliness make a potentially ho-hum topic a fun read. Kate Allen's simple and witty illustrations play nicely off the author's words -- for instance, a sketch of the oft-mispronounced shrub cotoneaster is paired with one of "Cotton-Easters" (a flock of bunnies).

And what we can laugh at loses its power to make us tremble. In February, you can face your rosebushes without fear: As Turnbull intones, "You can't kill a rose by pruning it. You can't kill a rose by pruning it."

Carolyn Huffman Kimball

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