Book Review: “Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning”

picture-2     Everything goes down easier with a little humor. Thanks to Cass Turnbull’s dry humor and passion for pruning, the South Sound must be one of the best areas in the country for gardeners who appreciate the beauty and art of a plant that isn’t butchered by dull tools or maniuplated into boxwood balls, bears and birds.

     Seattle-based Cass is the founder of Plant Amnesty, a private non-profit organization whose goal is to “end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs”. As a twenty-year professional gardener her goal has been to provide accurate information about pruning and garden maintenance. Cass travels all over the country to spread the word about what, when, where and how to prune for a more beautiful landscape.

     Her lectures are popular. She not only gives practical, well thought out and valuable information about the trials of pruning, she delivers what could very well be a ho hum subject with a wit that makes you want to learn more. She translated that wit and humor onto paper.

     The second edition, “Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning” is the clever key to unlocking all the secrets of “good job” pruning. Cass gives clear instructions about where and how to prune everything from trees (maples, dogwood, magnolia) through shrubs (lilac, rhododendron, viburnum) to groundcovers (ivy, salal, hypericum). The illustrations make the instructions easy to follow and the laughing you’ll do is a bonus. Even though the book is meant for the whole country, you’ll notice the plants mentioned are all ones that we can easily grow in the South Sound.

     Cass takes on every kind of pruning. She gives suggestions for pruning and shearing hedges and also for what she calls “radical renovation”. There is some biology thrown into the mix and some suggestions for good pruning tools. One line that pops up often is “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. Prune when you have to or when the plant needs it, not “just because”. 

     It’s long on information and laughs. It’s a “keeper”.

Available at The Garden Shop at Lakewold Gardens, (253-224-2300), www.gardenshoponline.com

 Article reprinted with permission, Premier Media Group, South Sound Magazine, Dirty Dan Column