Photographs by Derek Hughes
David Bateman Ltd
LIKE many plants, hostas
can prompt a love/hate relationship: they're magnificent when a
comfortable habitat allows them to flourish in splendid diversity,
but cranky and tatty if plonked into hostile conditions and left
for slug fodder.
This timely New Zealand
book by nurserywoman and writer Rosemary Barrett is unequivocal
in promoting hostas as the perfect perennial. As she points out,
they are plants that are easily grown and valued for their range
Well structured, superbly
illustrated and cleanly laid out, the book details the discovery
and development of various species. Two early spreads focus on foliage
and hosta flowers. The foliage spread has a portfolio of 11 pictures
across two pages, a compelling way to present the diversity of the
The book also details
when and where to plant hostas, their shade needs and soil preferences.
Propagation is discussed
in detail, including a useful section on growing from seed.
Various aspects of landscaping
with hostas are given three chapters and there are useful sections
on container growing and companion planting. Their seasonal demise
even gets the once-over.
Enthusiasts will relish
the 20-page hosta catalogue at the back, although search as we might,
we couldn't find the "useful addresses" referred to in the index.
It's great to have a
book written for New Zealand gardeners, championing the cause of
a plant that deserves wider recognition.
One peculiarity: despite
being written by a New Zealander, the book has been sold to an American
distributor and thus features American spelling.
Gardener, Issue 141, 2004, Page 26
(reproduced in Horticulture
in New Zealand:
Journal of the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture 2005, 8(1): 19-20)
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH