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Linda Joan Smith's "The Potting Shed" (Workman Publishing; $18.95) provides invaluable information on the history of potting sheds, potting sheds in literature and the nomenclature of pots.

A clay pot 18 inches across was once called a "two," writes Smith, because a standard quantity of clay would produce two of them. A 9-inch pot was a "sixteen," and a 3-inch pot a "sixty," for the same reasons. The smallest pots were "thumbs" or "thimbles," and were also called large or small "nineties." Further complicating the jargon was the "long tom," an upright long pot suited for plants with elongated taproots; the "fern pan" is a shallow vessel for small bulbs or plants with short roots.Smith & Hawken provided the setting for the book's sumptuous photographs, illustrating "the romance of the gardener's workshop," says the jacket copy, which doesn't mention snail pellets.

- Leah Garchik