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Garden Techniques
Matthew Wilson

Plants for Shade
Philip Clayton

Wild Gardens
Jenny Hendy

Harper Collins
$NZ19.99 each
Reviewed by Rob Gordon

Garden TechniquesTHE three titles are among a bevy of six books Harper Collins has introduced into its already popular, inexpensive Practical Gardener series (the other titles not reviewed are Lawns, Bamboos and Grasses, and Conservatory and Greenhouse Gardening).

Garden Techniques is a sound introduction to the basics, with information on soil preparation, plant types and growth through to tools, propagation, pruning and pests. It is written with today's gardener in mind, one who is less inclined to use chemicals and more likely to want to encourage wildlife into the garden. As with the other manuals in this series, it is clearly illustrated and laid out with lots of handy tips in boxes. Towards the back of the book there's an easy-to-follow troubleshooting chart. Here, it categorises plant pest and disease symptoms - a valuable aid to the novice and experienced gardener alike.

Plants for ShadeMany gardeners view shade as a liability rather than an asset. Furthermore, some of us with shady gardens try to ignore the fact, blithely putting in plants that relish sun and then wondering why they turn into stragglers and strugglers. These gardeners will find Plants for Shade a great help in helping to turn shady spots into flourishing features. It tackles such questions as soil type and the amount of moisture present before offering suggestions on how to manage the shade you have. Tips are also given on planting combinations and choosing the right plants. The plant entries themselves have quick-reference tables on their care as well as a chart for comparing different varieties.

Wild GardensIf you're wanting drifts of wildflowers, Wild Gardens will point you in the right direction. But there may be some cul de sacs in this British publication, too. Plants cherished in the less temperate climate can become thugs here. Indeed, pretty as they may be, plants like the fern Dryopteris and the lupins recommended here may be considered exotic weeds in New Zealand. Nonetheless, this is an interesting introduction that reflects the conservation trend around the world of nurturing in our gardens some of the plants that may well be threatened in the wild.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 199, 2006, Page 28

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

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