John Carey



With four multi-colour linocuts, and one single-colour tailpiece linocut, by Clare Melinsky

Rampant Lions Press, 1989


Designed and printed by Sebastian Carter at the Rampant Lions Press, Cambridge, UK.

Published in an edition of 480 standard copies and 20 specials.


Why would I want a book about vegetable gardening?

That was roughly my line of thought when first handed a copy for the consideration of purchase. However, it would have been rather rude and ignorant to just dismiss it straight off, so I opened it for a look through. Set in Octavian (one of my favourite typefaces) and featuring a series of multi-coloured linocut illustrations, the book turned out to be an instant visual delight that I happily paid for on the strength of its looks alone. Regarding the illustrations, it has to be said they are quite possibly the finest examples in the medium I’ve seen: the range of colours chosen for them – subtle and muted – is inspired.

On getting the book home, sheer curiosity led me to start actually reading it. I’m glad that I did, as Vegetable Gardening turned out to be one of the most amusing and entertaining essays I’ve read, and one that I have re-read several times since.

Out of all the grand and famous Rampant Lions Press books that I could have picked, this more modest title is my favourite; especially in the form of my special edition, which happens to be number one of the twenty numbered copies signed by the author, and specially bound by the Phoenix Bindery in Amsterdam, with an extra suite of signed proofs of the illustrations.

It is not a big, flash, or (excepting the specials) expensive book, but Vegetable Gardening is nonetheless an absolute delight that I thoroughly recommend to anyone. I mean, come on, a book about vegetable gardening making my top ten? There’s got to be something pretty special about it.



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