The Tui NZ Flower Garden by Rachel Vogan

Tui NZ Flower GardenSigh. Another joint venture infomercial from Penguin Books and Tui Garden Products whereby you, the customer, get to pay about $50 to be told what Tui products you need to buy in order to grow lovely flowers like the ones in the photographs. That is about it in a nutshell. On the plus side, this book does at least have an index and, hallelujah, it actually gives the botanical names in small print of the main plant families. It is just a shame that neither author nor editor understand the conventions of plant nomenclature. Common nouns like daffodil, magnolia, lily and bluebell do not have a capital letter every time they are used.

The bulk of the book is alphabetical listings of flowering plants (trees, shrubs, climbers, bulbs, perennials, annuals – yes, apparently you can cover the greater part of the plant kingdom in just one book) and it appears completely random as to whether the plant will be listed under its botanical name or its common name. Recommended varieties are equally random.

I am afraid the author lost us when we read the page on magnolias. It was bad enough to mislabel a photo of our Magnolia Vulcan as Genie, let alone misspell our famed Magnolia Iolanthe as Lolanthe but when we got to read that the evergreen Magnolia Little Gem is a small growing form of the aforementioned deciduous Lolanthe, we threw our hands up in despair. And we have actually managed to grow quite a few magnolias here without planting them into Tui Garden Mix and fertilising them each year with Novatec.

When the recommendation came that you plant anigozanthus (kangaroo paws – Australian plant that thrives in marginal desert conditions) with Saturaid, we worried about the advocacy for routine use of a soil wetting agent. There is no faster way to kill a woody plant or a dry loving plant in humid areas with high rainfall.

By the way, Penguin, it is time you dispensed with the auto spellchecker. The author of this book winning prizes for exhibiting her Gladys rivals a previous author counselling readers to throw out their Algarve. The author may have been using the colloquial term of gladdies, but even that is inappropriate for the text on page 164 and 165 where poor Gladys has her name taken in vain repeatedly. Gladiolus stands for one, gladioli for more than one. Gladdie is the vernacular, not the common name. Gladys is somebody’s grandmother.

Otherwise, it is a typical Penguin/Tui book which sits alongside its three sister volumes on vegetables, kid’s gardening and the infamous fruit one. I am hoping they have called it a day and don’t plan to inflict further volumes (maybe on organics or natives?) on the buying public.

The Tui NZ Flower Garden by Rachel Vogan (Penguin; ISBN:978 014 356553 6) reviewed by Abbie Jury.

First published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission.

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8 thoughts on “The Tui NZ Flower Garden by Rachel Vogan

  1. Helen Irvine

    Oh dear,here we go again.Little wonder the public give up gardening & say they cannot do it etc. Folk need proven fact not fluff. Tui could have shipped Saturaid down here to Christchurch to soak up our water problems after February 22.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      You are so right. Here we go again. And as far as we are concerned, water retention crystals have their place in container growing (great if you are into pots of petunuias and ageratums or indeed hanging baskets which dry out quickly), we should not be adding these things to garden soils. They are not going to break down and disappear. They will just keep swelling up like jelly each time it rains.

      1. Laura

        I was concerned when I read your comments about Saturaid as it had been recommended to me by a keen gardening friend for the vege garden during summer, so I went to my local garden centre to ask about it. They opened a container for me and it is more of a gritty sort of powder, in fact I thought it looked like chopped up tobacco. It’s actually not a water storing crystal or a jelly type substance at all. The staff member said it is not for holding water but actually helps the water go into the soil. The best part about this exercise was how helpful the staff member was – I am a beginner vege gardener and they were so helpful so I thought I would share with you.

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        I think it is lovely that you found the garden centre staff member so helpful and encouraging. I did a quick net search to find out what is actually in Saturaid and drew a bit of a blank. The product being marketed in NZ certainly does refer to it being a dispersal agent containing coir and other unspecified ingredients. Overseas entries make mention of Saturaid as being Saturaid Water Storage Crystals and being the complete water storage product – which is what I was referring to. If indeed the NZ product is a wetting agent, it is just a penetrant. We believe such products should have all ingredients listed on the container along with its life expectancy in the soil or potting mix. I wonder exactly what is meant by “When applied, it channels water to the root zone where it is needed most”. These products have been developed for specific purposes and have their uses but to advocate their application on a routine or large scale is commercial promotion, not good soil management.

  2. Abbie Jury Post author

    Exactly. I feel as if I am fighting a rear guard action wanting genuine advice and information not driven by sponsors when I buy a reference book.

  3. Robyn Kilty

    If I ever see one of those uninspiring Tui books on garden book shelves, which are sadly now so depleted of quality garden books, I quickly pass it by, without even looking to see what it’s about so I didn’t even know about this latest inaccurate fluff. What a nightmare that your Magnolia names have been so misspelt and linked in this trite inaccurate way with such commercial rubbish.

  4. Abbie Jury Post author

    Yes, I can’t think that Yates have much to fear from Tui as long as this is the calibre of material Tui chose to be associated with.

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