Plants for Central Otago
Reviewed by Mike Gowing
DUNEDIN'S Botanic Garden
and its magnificent rhododendrons turned Ralph Markby on to the
joys of horticulture some 30 or so years ago. Today a Wanaka resident,
this astute observer of plants, habitat and conditions has come
up with an invaluable handbook for gardeners who live in that South
Island climate of extremes, Central Otago.
The book kicks off with
a valuable synopsis of the variations within the region, in climate
and soil type, and a wander through the author's favourite plants.
A chapter follows on getting the basics right. And Ralph Markby
doesn't mince words when it comes to matters of taste. Take this:
"Tussock grasses ... look anything but right when mixed with exotic
plants. I have seen one bizarre example of large-scale planting
of rhododendrons interplanted with tussocks. Oh dear!"
The author splits his
A-Zs of recommended plants into eight categories, including trees
for small and large properties, conifers, shrubs, perennials, groundcover,
climbers, and rock garden, which "provide more enjoyment per square
metre than any other sort of garden". Ralph Markby has his own rock
garden, as well as first-hand experience of many of the plants listed.
With more and more people
choosing to live in this beautiful part of New Zealand, expect this
homespun book to enjoy a ready readership. Those in other regions
with similar climatic conditions - say, the North Island's central
plateau - may also find it a valuable addition to their shelves.
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH