Book Review – Pruning for Flowers and Fruit (CSIRO PUBLISHING Gardening Guides) by Jane Varkulevicius

Pruning for Flowers and Fruit (CSIRO PUBLISHING Gardening Guides)

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Pruning for Flowers and Fruit (CSIRO PUBLISHING Gardening Guides) by Jane Varkulevicius is a very comprehensive book that every fruit grower should own, I know I’m getting straight to the point here, so I’ll explain. I’ve been teaching fruit tree summer pruning and winter pruning classes for a several years now, and this book is my best reference on the subject that I personally use, and recommend to my students.

This book is packed with lots of useful information in its two hundred plus pages. If you want to understand how plants grow and how pruning works from first principles, rather than having to memorize a long list of gardening rules, then this is the book. Conversely, if you just want to look up your particular fruit tree and figure out what age the wood has to be to fruit, where it will fruit and what to prune, well that’s how this book is written. There’s enough theory to give you a solid grounding and plenty of practical information, just the right balance for a book on this subject.

I like the fact that it conveys all the information you need to prune your favourite fruit tree in an easy to read layout, which saves you having to sift through unnecessary information in order to complete the task at hand.  It’s a very practical quick reference too, it’s easy to refer to this book while standing in front of the tree with the secateurs, loppers or pruning saw in one hand and this book in the other, figuring out what to cut.

It’s not just about fruit trees either, this book also covers the pruning of ornamental plants and  fruiting shrubs in details, and there’s a shorter but still adequate section at the end on pruning the various types of berries.

If I had to pick only one fruit tree pruning book as a reference, this would be it. Why? Have a look at what the contents section covers. Be warned, it’s a huge list!


Acknowledgements ix
Introduction xi
Why prune? xi

1 How plants grow 1
Cambium – the uniting force 1
Hormones and meristems (points of growth) 2
Buds – apical and otherwise 3
How plants make their own food 5
Your site and plant selection 7

2 Plant quality, propagation and performance 15
Choosing the right plant at the nursery 15
Propagation and landscape use 21
Staking plants 24
When to prune 26

3 Techniques and tools 29
So what is the kindest cut? 29
Rubbing off 30
Pinching out, tip pruning 32
How to cut 33
Root pruning 44
Suckers and how to deal with them 46

4 Ornamental plants 49
Trees, shrubs, variegated plants, herbaceous
perennials, grasses and tufty plants 49
Roses 67
Hydrangeas 78
Pollarding and coppicing 82
Hedges 85
Planting a hedge 86
Formal hedges 90
Informal hedges 93
Pleaching 96
Topiary 98
Renovating older trees and shrubs 102
Climbing plants – ornamental and edible 108
Pruning weather-damaged plants 121

5 Fruit trees 125
Selecting fruit trees 125
Free-standing fruit trees 126
Espalier – trees in small spaces 131
Renovating fruit trees 137

6 Deciduous fruit trees 143
Apples Malus spp. 143
Apricots Prunus armenica 147
Cherries Prunus avium, P. cerasum 150
Chestnuts Castanea sativa 153
Figs Ficus carica 153
Hazelnuts Corylus avellana 155
Medlar Mespilus germanica 157
Mulberry Morus nigra, M. rubra, M. alba,
M. macroura 157
Dwarf mulberries 158
Nectarines, peaches, peacharines and almonds
Prunus persica var. nectarine, P. persica, P. dulcis 158
Pears Pyrus spp. 160
Persimmon Diospyros kaki 162
Pistachio Pistacia vera 163
Plums Prunus domestica, P. salicina 163
Pomegranate Punica granatum 165
Quince Cydonia oblonga 166
Walnuts Juglans regia 167

7 Evergreen fruit trees 169
Avocado Persea americana 169
Carob Ceratonia siliqua 170
Loquat Eriobotrya japonica 171
Macadamia Macadamia integrifolia, M. tetraphylla 172
Olive Olea europa 173
White sapote Casimiroa edulis 175

8 Citrus 177
Citrus fruit Citrus spp., Fortunella spp. 177

9 Fruiting shrubs 181
Pineapple guava Feijoa sellowiana syn.
Acca sellowiana 181
Cherry guava Psidium littorale var. longipes 182
Tamarillo, tree tomato Cyphomandra betacea 182
Pepino Solanum muricatum 183

10 Berry fruit 185
Blueberry Vaccinium spp. 186
Currants Ribes spp. 187
Red and white currants Ribes sativa, R. rubrum 188
Black currants Ribes nigrum 189
Gooseberry Ribes spp. 190
Strawberries Fragaria × ananassa 190

11 Cane berries 193
Raspberries Rubus idaeus, R. idaeus var. strigosus 193
Bramble berries Rubus spp. and hybrids 196

Glossary 199
References 201
Index 202

As you can see, most of the edibles that require pruning which grow in a temperate climates are included in this book. For the backyard orchardist, this book is the definitive reference.

They say a picture tells a thousand words, and this book makes excellent use of colour illustrations, diagrams and pictures to get the message across clearly and quickly. as you would expect in a well written instructional book on a practical subject such as pruning.

For those not aware of the publisher, CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. This is a book with serious technical credentials. Yes, it is a book written in Australia, but it’s extremely well written so that it never refers to months of the year, but to actual seasons, making it useful to gardeners in both the northern and southern hemisphere. I actually searched for the names of every calendar month in the eBook version and none could be found. More gardening books should be written this way to make them more universal. I love a well written practical reference text, and this one fits well into that category.

Deep Green rating for “Pruning for Flowers and Fruit (CSIRO PUBLISHING Gardening Guides)” by Jane Varkulevicius” is 5 stars!

five out of five stars

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5 thoughts on “Book Review – Pruning for Flowers and Fruit (CSIRO PUBLISHING Gardening Guides) by Jane Varkulevicius

  1. Hi Angelo, I checked the price for a second hand copy on Amazon at $30 and with shipping was USD$73 compared to AUD$40 direct from CSIRO which more directly supports our scientific organisation. Also the CSIRO have a number of other great publications it would be good to see you review.

    1. Hi Terry, the links are for everyone (our international audience) and work out really cheap for US buyers for brand new books with ultra low shipping costs. The links on this page go to the Amazon eBook Kindle format edition which is much cheaper wherever you buy it from because its a download and many people use eBook readers, as I do. The button link for the paperback editions on the Amazon page list new stock with very low prices for paperbacks shipped to the US.

      Thanks for pointing this out, as it would be cheaper for Australian buyers to buy the paperback edition locally and save shipping costs from the US for a local product. I’ll have to see what else CSIRO publishing have on offer. I wonder if they would be interested in sending me some to review…

  2. Thanks Angelo. Just what I needed, as I’m in the process of starting a “sustainable garden”for a secondary college in Central Victoria.This will be an invaluable teaching reference for both students and myself as the garden develops.

  3. Hello Angelo
    Thank you for the post. Does this book also deal with W.A./ Albany Australia Climactic conditions as I would like to send The book to friends in Albany?
    thank you Irena Bomford

    1. Hi Irena, the book is useful for any climate, region or zone where the plants and fruit trees discussed can actually grow. Yes, it is fine for WA or anywhere in Australia or the rest of the world as the plants and trees don’t change how they grow wherever they are, for example an apple will always be an apple and be pruned the same way wherever it may be growing.

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