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Essential Pruning Techniques: Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers

By George E. Brown and Tony Kirkham

Photographs by Andrea Jones

Walks any would-be arborist through a veritable dictionary of trees, from abelias to zenobias.

New York Times

Pruning is an indispensable part of garden maintenance, but it is also one of the most difficult. Successful pruning requires a thorough knowledge of a plant’s growth and flowering habits. In Essential Pruning Techniques Tony Kirkham—the head of the arboretum and gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew—shares his decades of knowledge and expertise and expands on the groundbreaking work done by George E. Brown. Step-by-step photographs clearly show the general principles of pruning, and profiles of 379 woody plants include advice on habit, attributes, reasons for pruning, and the best time to prune. Essential Pruning Techniques is a must-have reference for home gardeners and professionals.

Media reviews

"Walks any would-be arborist through a veritable dictionary of trees, from abelias to zenobias."

New York Times Book Review

"Serious gardeners will come back to it again and again."

Times (London)

"Expanded, updated, and beautifully illustrated.…​A durable and worthy reference book for any arborists, gardeners, and landscaper contractors wanting to know more than just basic pruning."

Pacific Northwest Trees

"An even more excellent text for shaping trees, shrubs, and conifers."


"Kirkham adds to the knowledge and authority put forth by George E. Brown.…​Best serves experienced gardeners."

Publishers Weekly

"Every tree and shrub you can think of is covered with a clear explanation of how, where and why it should be pruned. It’s invaluable."

Waitrose Magazine

"Useful for anyone who wants to learn how to prune correctly."

American Gardener

"Pruning is perhaps the gardening task that worries gardeners most and this blend of age-old wisdom and new techniques has solutions for most pruning dilemmas—for that, this book is priceless."

English Garden

About the authors

George E. Brown

George E. Brown (1917–1980) earned his diploma in horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He returned to Kew in 1956 as an assistant curator. A founding member of the Arboricultural Association, he soon became a recognized authority on trees and shrubs.

Read more about George E. Brown

Tony Kirkham

Tony Kirkham is Head of the Arboretum and Horticultural Services at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, where he cares for the existing heritage landscape and woody plant collections and maintains the integrity and development of the living scientific plant collections. Tony lectures internationally, runs workshops and has published papers on a wide range of subjects.

Read more about Tony Kirkham

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