Tool Box: Manual for the labourer

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The Independent Online
'WHY DON'T gardening books devote more space to the sort of things you write about in Tool Box?' a friend asked during the post-Christmas debate about what to do with gift tokens. He had a point. Many otherwise commendable books tend to credit the reader with too much knowledge of essential implements.

One of the most notable exceptions is The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopaedia of Gardening, published by Dorling Kindersley. Almost big enough to need moving by forklift truck - or to stand on while trimming a hedge - this admirable book devotes a 15-page chapter to tools and equipment, before moving on to such allied subjects as greenhouses, fences and garden sheds.

Crisp, clear, easily digested text is complemented by equally good illustrations. They combine to provide plenty of sensible advice. For instance, on the basic spade: 'Plastic hilt is comfortable even in cold weather.' The chapter embraces just about everything from trowels and hoes to chainsaws and lawnmowers. Sub-headings draw attention to such topics as safety, hiring rather than buying, looking after tools, and reducing the risk of injury to your back.

The 648-page encyclopedia is priced at pounds 29.95.

Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd, 9 Henrietta Street, London WC2 8PS (071-836 5411).