If this book looks a little familiar, it is because it is a new edition of one first published in 2001, updated in 2008 and again for 2014. It is a handy book, not comprehensive because it only covers 100, but many are varieties of native plants that you may want to know about. Credit to both author and book designer for having a flexible approach where the sections on each plant can vary in length rather than dumbing the content down to fit a formulaic lay-out of the style seen in recipe books.
The author is head gardener at Larnach Castle in Dunedin and a passionate advocate for using our native flora. Her information is useful. Plants are given their botanical name, Maori name (which is often the name we use most widely) and any common names. General information is given about each plant – identification, location in the wild, important botanical information such as whether both male and female are required, followed by handy info on using these plants including preferred garden situation, pests and problems, landscaping suggestions, a short list of some different cultivars available and related species. There is plenty of information, delivered in a user-friendly form. All plants are photographed, though the photography is a bit patchy in quality.
If you have earlier editions of this book, the 2008 version changed 17 plants from the 2001 edition and this one changed a further 16 plants so it is about one third of new content over the original. I notice the price has not changed in the six years since the mid edition. The only thing that really annoyed me is the sales hype on the back cover (for which the author has no responsibility). “An expert guide to the top 100 New Zealand native plants…” it trumpets. What a cheapening effect one word can have. Not “THE top”. It is “an expert guide to 100 top plants”. There is a difference.
100 best native plants for New Zealand gardens by Fiona Eadie. (Random House; ISBN:978 1 77 553 651 2).
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.