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Pamela McGeorge
Photography Russell McGeorge
David Bateman
Reviewed by Mike Gowing

IF you're hooked on peonies but want to know more about this flamboyant flower, such as the best variety for your garden, then go no further than Pamela McGeorge's illuminating book. Weekend Gardener readers will already be familiar with Pamela's ready knowledge and lively style, as well as her photographer/husband Russell's discerning photography (more than 200 colour photographs are used). Here, their joint talents illuminate more than 180 species, covering the two main groups, herbaceous and tree peonies, as well as the crosses between these two - intersectional peonies.

For the more adventurous gardeners, there's a chapter on propagation dealing with division, growing from cuttings and collecting and growing from seed. Under the heading "Playing God", Pamela examines how to produce your own strain of plant.

The chapter on troubleshooting deals largely with the types of fungal problems peonies encounter (a clue to why they're petulant in our northern climes) as well as their predators.

The first of the two appendices lists selected varieties and their characteristics, while the second offers a comprehensive list of suppliers and contact details for British, Canadian and US organisations.

The history of the genus, including the use of P. officianalis in traditional Chinese medicine, is intriguing but of immediate interest is Pamela's clear vision of how to best integrate this hibernating perennial into your planting scheme, including choosing cultivars that flower at different times.

At a price that won't empty the purse, this book is bound to find favour.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 200, 2006, Page 35

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

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