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Garden Plants for Central OtagoBOOK REVIEWS

Garden Plants for Central Otago

Ralph Markby
Longacre Press
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.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 192, 2006, Page 35
(reproduced in New Zealand Garden Journal, 10(1), 2007, Page 29)

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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