Rhododendron Growers Handbook for New Zealanders
By Margaret Tapley
Published by David Bateman Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand, 1991
Reviewed by Graham Smith
The latest addition to
the excellent 'Growers Handbook' range, 'Rhododendrons for New Zealanders'
should find a ready market in a country where books specifically
written for our conditions are rare.
Margaret Tapley has covered
almost every aspect of rhododendron growing extremely well. Some
of the material comes from her other book 'Rhododendrons in New
Zealand', but is much more comprehensive. Details such as general
care and attention, pests and diseases, propagation, companion plants
and container growing are all well covered. Errors are relatively
minor and some only an interpretation of different growing conditions.
Mrs Tapley mentions the changes in rhododendron nomenclature using
the Cullen and Chamberlain Edinburgh system. However that system
has superseded classification in series and sub-series, she states,
and we now classify in sections and sub-sections.
The bulk of the book
is devoted to descriptive lists of plants grouped together for colour,
size, hardiness or flowering times. These are quite comprehensive
and inevitably there is some repetition as varieties find themselves
in two or three sections, usually with the same description. Occasionally
this is changed slightly, but confusion then sets in, e.g. 'Seven
Stars' is listed as being 0.9 m, mid-season flowering, white with
pink flush and with shiny dark leaves, or 1.2 m, late mid-season,
light pink flowers and with dull green leaves. I also found the
use of sizes expressed either in centimetres or as a fraction of
a metre irritating as there was no consistency with this. In fact
the sizes given generally would be my major criticism as they bear
no relation to plants that I know under the same name.
Two small colour sections
are included and these are quite good representations of the plants
portrayed. Line drawings of planting and propagation methods are
very clear and concise which is more than I can say for the odd
shapes that head every chapter. If they are to represent the rhododendron
species described in the chapter then they should at least look
like the real thing.
This small book is good
value for money and should be on all rhododendron growers' book
shelves because it answers so many of the questions that are frequently
posed. Used in conjunction with a good rhododendron catalogue, you
should not go too far wrong in planning and planting a superb rhododendron
in New Zealand: Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture
1992 3(1): 15-16
Reviews Main Page