I am thrilled to accept the ALCOHOL SPRONSORSHIP PRESS AWARD for the week, administered by NZ media star Steve Braunias, for my work on the Penguin and Tui story below (More Bad Penguin). It is not that we are rum drinkers. I think it might be the greatest highlight in my writing career to date, supplanting my pride at being voted second most popular writer (beaten only by the TV reviewer) in the local paper some time ago. Fame and rum await, if not fortune.
Dear oh dear Penguin NZ yet again Same author, same editor, same publisher, same series, same sponsor BUT DIFFERENT BOOK. First the Tui NZ Fruit Garden ever so slightly embarrassingly recalled because of “allegations of plagiarism”, now the companion volume Tui NZ Vegetable Garden is recalled and to be destroyed for the same reason. A bit more than just allegations, do we think?
Penguin NZ have issued an immediate recall of all copies of this book.
There was a bit of a problem with the first version of the Tui NZ FRUIT Garden by Sally Cameron, published by Penguin NZ. In fact it was clearly quite a large problem, given that Penguin ordered an immediate recall within a few days of its release. It’s usually called plagiarism – rather too much cut and paste from copyrighted sources without acknowledgment. It was the third such embarrassing incident in quick succession for this publisher, the highest profile being Witi Ihimaera’s work, The Trowenna Sea. No matter. Publishers closed ranks and I was on a National Radio panel where other professionals explained that it was all the author’s fault and none of this could possibly be blamed on the maligned publisher.
To my astonishment, Penguin NZ, with the backing of their sponsor Tui Garden, ploughed ahead using the same author to rewrite the book and a year later they issued a second edition which was substantially different. No better, mind, but different and minus the sections which appeared to have been plagiarised.
Would you not think that both Penguin NZ and Tui Garden would have put the first book by the same author in the same series – The Tui NZ VEGETABLE Garden – under the microscope at the same time? I reviewed it when it came out in 2009 and I was far too kind. In my defence, all I can say is that it seemed markedly better than the other book which I was reviewing alongside it. When faced with the FRUIT book a year later, I questioned whether the earlier VEG book might suffer from similar problems related to cutting and pasting other people’s work. I even cited the garlic entry and gave its source as a copyright website belonging to somebody else.
Given the obvious inexperience of the author, did nobody involved think it warranted a closer look? We are talking the same book series, same author (Sally Cameron), same sponsor (Tui), same publisher (Alison Brook for Penguin), same editor (Catherine O’Loughlin). When the author is already under scrutiny, in the dock so to speak, it is difficult to believe that others involved can dump all the blame on her a second time.
It was only ever going to be a matter of time before somebody noticed. And two weeks ago, somebody identified a primary source for the Tui NZ VEGETABLE Garden and posted the following comment on my website:
“Not only has Dr D G Hessayon ripped off Sally Cameron’s Tui NZ Vegetable Garden, chapter and verse, but, he also had the temerity to do it four years prior to Sally being published.
Is it OK to lift entire chapters of books if you include a reference to that book at the end? Hope so, ‘cos I’m just finishing my book “Great Expectations” with a small reference at the back to Mr C Dickens.”
My informant was working from a more recent copy of a source publication, “The New Vegetable and Herb Expert”. English horticulturist and bestselling author, Dr Hessayon actually published his book a good ten years before Sally Cameron produced hers. It took me mere minutes to track down a copy on Trade Me. I think I paid $12 for it plus P&P and it arrived in the mail this week.
Well. Oopsy. How many examples are sufficient?
1) On turnips: Hessayon: Round is not the only shape for these Early turnips – there are also flat and cylindrical ones. There is not much variation in the globular Maincrop types sown in summer, but you can choose the yellow-fleshed Golden Ball. (page 105)
Cameron: Round is not the only shape for these early turnips – there are also flat and cylindrical ones – but there is not much variation in the globular maincrop types sown in summer. (page 174 and one can do a side by side match for much of pages 174 and 175).
2) On Brussels sprouts: Hessayon: Birds are a problem – protect the seedlings from sparrows and the mature crop from pigeons. Hoe regularly and water the young plants in dry weather. The mature crop rarely needs watering if the soil has been properly prepared…. (pages 34-5)
Cameron: Birds are a problem. Protect the seedlings from sparrows and pigeons that will eat the mature crops. (Which type of pigeons, Sally?) If scarecrows don’t work, hang cutlery from a clothes hanger. (That suggestion does appear to be a Cameron original). … Hoe around the plants regularly and water the young plants in dry weather. The mature crop rarely needs watering if the soil has been properly prepared….( page 70 -71)
Even the instructions for picking are eerily identical.
Hessayon: Begin picking when the sprouts (‘buttons’) at the base of the stem have reached the size of a walnut and are still tightly closed. Snap them off with a sharp downward tug or cut them off with a sharp knife.
Cameron: Begin picking the sprouts at the base of the stem when they have reached the size of a walnut and are still closed. Snap them off with a sharp downward tug or cut them off with a sharp knife.
Similar problems exist with broccoli, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, the aforementioned garlic and more and I cannot claim to have done anything near a complete analysis. Given that the problems appear to be of a similar magnitude to the first version of the FRUIT book which was recalled, will we be looking at a recall of the VEG book? Maybe Tui Garden might consider whether it is a good look being affiliated to a book which claims to give good advice to New Zealand gardeners when a fair swag of it seems to have come from a book for British gardeners.
Lightning, it appears, can strike twice in the same place. It just beggars belief that editor, publisher and sponsor all appear to have failed to factor that in to their considerations.
First published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission.
The ongoing saga (and it is developing into a saga):
1) The review of the second edition of the fruit book: The Sequel – a second coming for the Tui NZ Fruit Garden
2) Does credibility and reputation count for nothing these days, or does Penguin just think we have short memories? (written upon hearing that Penguin and Tui were using the same author to rewrite the fruit book)
3) The story that started it all and that is currently the second most read article on my website, still receiving hits every day: The Tui NZ Fruit Garden – dear oh dear
4) The lead story on the Taranaki Daily News which broke the first plagiarism story. Since then I have parted company from the Daily News and moved to the Waikato Times.
5) The original review of the Tui NZ Vegetable Garden, which was far too kind and is now embarrassing to me as a reviewer. But I leave it in place because it is a good reminder – and I am considerably more thorough at reviewing garden books in NZ than many others. The Tui book did look better than the other one I was reviewing at the same time – but it, at least, was actually written by the author, based on her experience (however limited it was). Separating the genuine enthusiasts from candyfloss fashion gardening
6) The Tui NZ Flower Garden I merely add this one to complete the set. I declined to review the companion volume on kid’s gardening but I did review the flower book (same series but different author). I would not for one minute suggest that this volume suffers from plagiarism, not at all. It could only be original, for reasons which may be obvious if you read the review.
I am married to a patient and kind man but he has been looking ever more exasperated over the last two weeks. I put The Tui NZ Fruit Garden in front of him for comment because his experience with growing fruit and nuts is greater. As he dipped in and out of various chapters, he was finally moved to exclaim that he could not fathom why Tui, Tony Murrell and Rachel Vogan would put their names to this book and give it a credibility that it does not deserve.
If this seems slightly familiar to you, dear Reader, that is not a surprise. This book is the sequel – the revised edition, it tells us on the frontispiece (but not the cover). The first version was the subject of a piece I wrote this time last year, backed up by a lead story on the front page of our newspaper and picked up extensively by national media. There was a little problem with plagiarism by the author, Sally Cameron. Well, quite a big problem really – in fact an enormous one. The publishers, Penguin, pulled the book from sale immediately, mere days after it had been released. Nobody associated with the book ever commented on that withdrawal from sale so the general assumption was it had all died a natural death. No. Little did we know, they were preparing for a second coming. And here it is. It looks the same. The author is the same. The cover has been recycled. So is it the same?
I think the plagiarised sections have gone. I didn’t do an exhaustive analysis but I would guess that they have been quite thorough, given there are legal issues to be considered. But the plagiarism was only half the problem. In reviewing the original version, I was equally critical of the woeful lack of experience and knowledge by the author. And the rewrite has highlighted this even more. At least when the author was cutting and pasting information from the internet, she was generally getting it from credible sources even if they were from overseas. Now that it is in her own words, it often plumbs new depths. “A Chilean guava, pomegranate or feijoa bush can offer hedging that is just as effective as a Buxus.” Really? Shame the pomegranate is deciduous and if you clip your feijoa like you clip your buxus, you will be taking off all next year’s fruiting tips. Or, when writing about grapevines needing support: “This can be shaped or manipulated at leisure to provide a sculptured habitat for the vines to drape from.”
Even worse is the advice on protecting your grapes: “Broad pieces of netting with holes wide enough to let the sun in but keeping, bugs, diseases and birds out help let the fruit ripen nicely on the vine.” Leaving aside the description of broad pieces, since when has any netting kept out diseases and what fine grade of mesh would you need to keep out bugs? Wasps don’t even rate a mention but they are one of the biggest problems, in our experience. The sort of information that the reader needed and deserved to be told is that Albany Surprise is an excellent selection for marginal and humid conditions. Because it has a tougher skin, if you can net the birds out then the wasps can’t pierce the skin and get in to the fruit.
At least lychees, mangoes and pineapples have been consigned to a brief two page spread at the end of the book, under the title of “Fruit not commonly grown in New Zealand owing to climatic restrictions” but it is hard to understand why carambola or star fruit, which is equally marginal, remains with a four page spread of its own in the main body of the text. Maybe the author wanted to show off her recipe for pickled carambola? Proper cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpum) should have been grouped with the lychees and mangoes too. Equally hard to understand is why tomatoes are included in a book about fruit gardens. Yes, botanically they are a fruit but every home gardener and cook regards them as a vegetable and they are grown in the veg garden, not the orchard. Doing a cut and paste of the tomato chapter from the companion volume, the Tui NZ Vegetable Garden, could be described as having a bob each way but it is unnecessary padding in a book about growing fruit. Some of the other inclusions are odd – the medlar, introduced to this country by the early settlers, is a fairly decorative tree but not worth the space in the orchard as a fruiting tree. Given that you have to wait until the small fruit are nearly rotten before you eat them, why would you bother when we can grow apples and pears so well? Peanuts are a novelty crop grown in the vegetable garden and limited to the hottest and driest parts of the country. But don’t expect too much of that sort of information in this book. In most cases, the author lacks the experience to know what is important and to sift the information accordingly.
Take kiwifruit as an example. For starters, where can you grow them? According to this book, “The kiwifruit is an appropriate crop wherever citrus fruits, peaches and almonds are successful, though the leaves and flowers are more sensitive to cold than those of orange and peach trees.” Right. So this means kiwifruit need more warmth than citrus? But refer to the entry on almonds and it says: “Almonds happily grow in areas with warm summers and cool winters.” So I guess we are talking Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago? Refer to peaches and it says: “… a long chilling time ensures a good fruiting crop in summer.” Even we became confused about where you can grow kiwifruit successfully but at least we know that it is a warm temperate to subtropical crop.
If you are a novice and you can deduce whether your area is suitable for growing kiwifruit, what you need to know is that it is a rampant vine and if you don’t prune it thoroughly every year, it will swamp your section and choke out everything else very quickly. The book does at least tell you that kiwifruit are not self fertile so you need both male and female though it fails to mention that only the female vine produces any fruit. I will quote the section on pruning verbatim, so readers can assess for themselves whether they would understand how to prune kiwifruit from this information (including the fact that male kiwifruit vines are pruned differently to female ones). “Pruning: After fruiting has finished, the vines should be pruned in late winter, before the spring warmth. Shoots from summer pruning will not be laden with fruit until the following year after dormancy. Male plants will yield more pollen in the spring if new shoots are pinched out to leave five to seven buds during the summer. Winter pruning renews the fruiting arms, enabling plants to fruit well each year.” Got that, have you? Now you know how to prune your kiwifruit?
Another burning question about kiwifruit which most people want to know is where to buy the new yellow cultivars. The fruit is illustrated but it doesn’t tell you that you can’t buy plants. Hort Research and Zespri, who own all the research on new cultivars, keep very tight control of plants and they are not available to the home gardener. But the book does recommend Cocktail Kiwi, an unproven novelty variety – a rampant grower which is distinctly shy on setting fruit and when it does come it is about half the size of your thumb.
Kiwifruit is just one example. The book is full of chapters which are similarly inadequate. But according to Penguin, “this book contains all the essential information you need” and “it will become the reference for gardeners of all skill levels….” We wish that were true. Had this been the first release of the Tui NZ Fruit Garden, Sally Cameron and Penguin Publishers might just have got away with it, marginal though it is. To have a second shot at the same book using the same author, it needed to be very good indeed. It isn’t. We will be keeping to our old tried and true modest volume called The Home Orchard, published by the NZ Department of Agriculture in 1973. It is not glossy or trendy but at least it is by people who knew what they were writing about and it only cost us $2.25 to buy at the time.
The Tui NZ Fruit Garden, by Sally Cameron with Rachel Vogan. (Penguin; ISBN: 978 0 14 356536 9).
For the earlier story on mark one of this book, click on The Tui NZ Fruit Garden – dear oh dear.
1) To say that we were simply amazed to see that Penguin is reissuing the Tui NZ Fruit Garden in May would be an understatement. Same cover, same author. This is the book they withdrew from sale extremely quickly a year ago when the massive problems of plagiarism and inaccuracy were pointed out to them. Presumably the text has been reworked because the early blurb refers to it being in conjunction with a panel of industry experts. It is to be hoped that industry experts include people with extensive personal experience in growing these plants at home throughout the country and not just the commercial producers who want to sell their plants. That aside, it is astonishing that Penguin appear to think that sticking with a discredited and blitheringly ignorant author is just fine. Are we really meant to have such short memories?
2) Alcantarea regina (or is that geniculata?) in flower this week.
3) Garden tasks for this week as autumn officially starts.
4) The third part in our series of step by step compost instructions – this time making cold compost which is the common technique for home gardeners.
Unbelievable. The second most read entry on this website is the piece on plagiarism I wrote last May which resulted in a lightning quick withdrawal from sale of Penguin’s publication: The Tui New Zealand Fruit Garden by Sally Cameron. Even now, that article attracts several hits most days. But Penguin clearly think the public will have forgotten. Exactly a year later, they will be releasing the new version of the book. To all intents and purposes it looks the same, but apparently this new edition has been written “in conjunction with a panel of industry experts”. Well that is a relief and shows that some notice may have been taken of the earlier shortcomings, but what on earth made them think that the author, Sally Cameron, has any credibility left?
Are we to see this new edition released with all the usual hype and hollow accolades for the author? I fear it is likely, given the early blurb on Penguin’s website: The Tui NZ Fruit Garden [PDF] It is a good topic, Penguin, and you produce good looking books. You just needed a credible author and a new look. Will you be offering to replace the withdrawn copy with the new edition for those who were unfortunate to waste their money on the first attempt?
The latest update on this article is The Sequel, a second coming for Tui NZ Fruit Garden
Sally Cameron is attempting to punch well above her weight in her book The NZ Fruit Garden. Her main experience seems to be in food writing and cooking and she runs a catering company in Auckland. Her gardening credentials are very limited and it shows in this Penguin publication sponsored by the Tui garden products company.
There is nothing wrong with using a researcher to pull together a comprehensive book as long as the editor/publisher ring-fences her with an expert panel to review the information. There is no evidence that this was done. Alas, being a keen home gardener on the North Shore is not sufficient. There are too many errors and in places the information is simply not adequate. Even worse, there are sufficient instances of unacknowledged quotes to make me breathe the dreaded word: plagiarism.
All those multitudes of fruit trees and plants sold in the past two years need attention. Clearly the time is right for a manual. And a manual is what this book is. To be fair, it is a well-presented book designed to be used often – good-quality paper, opens flat and even has a thoughtful heavy-duty plastic cover. The majority of the book is an alphabetical listing of 58 fruits and nuts, each giving some information on the origin, recommended varieties and the where, when and how of growing them. In addition to that, the first 50 or so pages give a great deal of generic information on propagation, planting and care. At the end of the book, there is a section on pests and diseases and a monthly diary for maintenance and harvest tasks. From almonds and apples to walnuts, most of the crops you will ever want to try growing are included – along with quite a few that you cannot grow, though you are not likely to learn that from this book. Tui’s sponsorship is generally unobtrusive. Superficially, the book looks really helpful and the design is good. Sadly, looks can deceive.
I went to double-check some of the information on apricots, particularly the claim that ‘‘many people think they are subtropical’’. In New Zealand, we all know the best apricots come from Central Otago and nobody ever claims that area to be subtropical. According to Cameron, apricot trees are considered subtropical, which means they can tolerate temperatures from 0 degrees Celsius to over 35 degrees Celsius and still remain healthy. Puhlease. That is not a definition of a subtropical plant. Elsewhere in the book, she recommends them as a suitable crop for Northland. But worse was when I found the Wikipedia entry and thought it seemed familiar. It was. I had just read it in the book.
Cameron: There is an old adage that an apricot tree will not grow far from the mother tree.
Wikipedia: There is an old adage that an apricot tree will not grow far from the mother tree.
Cameron: Although often regarded as a subtropical fruit, the apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters.
Wikipedia: Although often thought of as a ‘‘subtropical’’ fruit, this is actually false – the apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters
The guava entry is a worry. Actually, it’s even more than a worry when I compared it to easily tracked online sources, to which it owes a rather large debt. Cameron: The guava succumbs to frost in any area – it is a tropical fruit after all. Even if summers are too cool, the tree will die back.
There’s a slight problem here. She is writing about the large growing tropical guava, Psidium guajava, which you may have tried eating in Asia (I found it disappointing). But what we can and do grow here – and which has similar hardiness to a lemon – is the strawberry guava, Psidium littorale. The recommended varieties and some of the photos in the Cameron book are of P. littorale, but they are included under the tropical guajava and there is no indication that Cameron knows the difference. In our 30 years of experience with growing littorale, it does not suffer from any of the hideous pests and diseases she lists at length. Added to that is the propagation information, which is bizarre. Why even mention air-layering when it is not recommended and is so rarely done in this country as to be virtually unknown? The reason: because it appears to be cut and pasted from an easily traced Californian website that was all about guajava. Had Cameron known her material, she would have explained that littorale is commonly raised from seed in this country.
Cranberries: what is grown widely and successfully in New Zealand and indeed is now branded the New Zealand cranberry is, in fact, Myrtus ugni. Most New Zealanders wouldn’t even know that it is not the true cranberry and that the fruit used for Ocean Spray cranberry juice and dried or frozen cranberries is, in fact, a vaccinium.We have never heard of proper cranberries being grown in this country, though presumably you could grow them in Southland, because they need cold temperatures and may be happy in the southern peat bogs. Presumably the author didn’t know about cranberries, because the book doesn’t even mention Myrtus ugni, which you can buy from pretty well every garden centre here, but instead is all about vacciniums. That is the problem with using overseas references without local knowledge. Even then the information given is contradictory. In one sentence, vaccinium is recommended for growing around ponds and other soggy areas. In another, it is recommended that you plant it in the coldest, wettest spot in your garden, but adds that the ground should never be waterlogged. Has the author never heard of the cranberry bogs in North America and seen the deliberate flooding of them? And honestly, what rush of creative frivolity led to the recommendation that they are suitable for growing in hanging baskets?
Gooseberries: according to this book, gooseberries need 800 to 1500 hours of chilling in order to fruit well. Really? What constitutes chilling? Is it temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius – 3 degrees, maybe – or below freezing? Nowhere is that information given, which means that it is very hard to start counting your hours of chill. And the huge range is questionable. Does the author mean that gooseberries require a minimum of 800 hours of winter chill below a certain temperature, but if your hours are much more than 1500 (which presumably takes you to alpine areas in this country), the growing season may be too short?
What the New Zealand reader really needs to know is that because gooseberries need a cold winter to fruit well, you are probably wasting your time unless you live in the centre of the North Island or from Christchurch southward. Measuring winter temperatures in hours of chilling is an American custom not usually seen in this country.
Avocados: the advice is that avocados do best inland away from ocean winds. This could be interpreted as suggesting that they will grow more successfully in Inglewood than Waitara, but we can tell you that in this part of the country, you can only grow avocados successfully in mild coastal areas. In fact, even in warmer areas of New Zealand, you can get frosts if you’re more than 5 kilometres inland. So in this country, avocados have to be grown in coastal areas. Again, I tracked the source of Cameron’s information to a Californian website.
The entry on lychees is lifted pretty much word for word from a copyrighted website belonging to the California Rare Fruit Growers (I started with Wikipedia and found it one click through.)
Under quinces, one of the photographs labelled quince blossom is in fact chaenomeles blossom. And while one of the photos of the fruit is indeed a quince, the other one is chaenomeles. And the photo by the quince header is, we suspect a crabapple. It is certainly not a quince. One is left with the uncomfortable suspicion that nobody involved with this book realised that quinces (cydonia) are an entirely different plant to japonica apples (chaenomeles).
I could keep going, listing the glaring deficiencies in this book. It is riddled with them. You can spend $45 on it if you wish and I am sure it will receive glowing reviews in other media because, superficially, it looks good. It is a book that was probably rushed out to meet a market demand and escaped anything but the most perfunctory of editing. It lacks rigour in every aspect. Near enough is close enough and it all looks just lovely, darling.
I don’t wish to be accused of going on a witch-hunt, but I turned back to Cameron’s earlier volume, The NZ Vegetable Garden, also published by Penguin and sponsored by Tui. I actually gave it a good review in this publication. I randomly inspected the garlic entry and went to check a rather odd piece of information. It took me all of two minutes to find a copyrighted website, http://www.garliccentral.com/varieties.html, which contributed at least some of the exact wording for page 116 in that book.
It should be an embarrassment to a credible publishing house like Penguin, but presumably nobody bothered to check for relevance, accuracy, or plagiarism. Looks are all in this current world of publishing and cut and paste has a lot to answer for.
POSTSCRIPT: My, but Penguin acted quickly to recall the book from sale. Given an advance copy of this column, they issued a recall within 24 hours.