The best thing to do with your strimmer is throw it out
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The Independent Online
We are now in the middle of National Tree Week. Ponder on the thought that strimmers are responsible for more tree deaths than any other single factor. Vandals are impotent weaklings compared with the savagely efficient strimmer, and not a lot noisier either. In a matter of seconds, a strimmer can girdle the base of a tree, stripping off the outer layers of the trunk which are the tree's lifelines. Food and drink are carried up to the branches and leaves through an intricate plumbing system which lies just underneath the bark. If this is damaged, the tree dies. Hand weed round the base of trees and mulch the area with muck or compost. Instead of worrying about the Amazonian rain forest, take steps to save a few English trees instead. Take your strimmer to the scrap-iron merchant. They are hideous, noisy, destructive, bullying machines.

The price for keeping a strimmer should be a donation to the International Tree Foundation (formerly Men of the Trees). You can contact them at Sandy Lane, Crawley Down, West Sussex RH10 4HS (01342 712536). And have you ever thought how many insects you are slicing up with that whirling, indiscriminate, length of nylon? Think Buddhist. It may be you there one day with your head about to be chopped off.

Yvonne Luke of Herbaceous Books has recently published her autumn catalogue of second-hand gardening books, usefully divided into subject areas: Bulbs, Corms and Tubers (usually my first port of call in any second-hand book dealer's catalogue as I am always trying to find a tulip book I haven't got), Wild Flowers, Cacti, Garden Design.

There are 20 different categories including, of course, Herbaceous Plants where you will find Shirley Hibberd's Familiar Garden Flowers published in 1870 (price pounds 28). "Those who seek applause by crying up herbaceous weeds and crying down bedding plants" will receive only "the pitying smile that is bestowed on the well-meaning fanatic." That was a rare misjudgement on Hibberd's part.

Herbaceous Books is at 15 Westville Avenue, Ilkley, West Yorkshire LS29 9AH. (01943 602422).