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A Good Read...what's current in print?

Short reviews in this issue cover "Orchids of South-West Australia" by Noel Hoffman and Andrew Brown, "Native Gardens - How to Create an Australian Landscape" by Bill Molyneux and Ross Macdonald and the Supplements to the "Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants" by Rodger Elliot and David Jones.

Orchids of South-West Australia
Noel Hoffman and Andrew Brown

Published by University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, WA; 1995.
Second edition; $AUS45

Reviewed by Kerrie Rathie

This is the paperback edition of the revised (l992) edition. What it covers is the terrestrial orchids of the south-west of Western Australia only. A few pages are devoted to orchid history and pollination and flower morphology, but by page 15 we are into keys to genera, and by page 22 we are into the species.

Apart from a glossary and indices of scientific and common names, 394 pages of the remaining 406 deal with a species per page, with usually a page or so on the genus in general. Each species or subspecies gets a quarter page colour photo, usually concentrating on the flower only (this is fine as leaves vary little within genera), a distribution map, and plant and flower details.

Readers needing a primer on potting mixes or other cultural advice on growing "groundies" need to look elsewhere. The Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS) branches in Melbourne and Perth have put out good booklets on such topics. As a field guide, its intended purpose, it looks excellent.

Southern Western Australia contains no epiphytic orchids, but the number of "groundies" is fast increasing, as the botanists characterise what, until recently, was a neglected group. This also applies to Queensland. Ralph Crane of the Native Orchid Society of Queensland recently reported that in his 11-years of rambles through south-east Queensland, he had encountered 53 epiphytic orchids and 123 terrestrials. So even in Queensland the terrestrial species dominate, and their numbers are certain to increase as many areas are as yet poorly surveyed.

The photos in the book cover many gems, such as the many colours of Thelymitra (35 spp.) and Caladenia (over 120 spp.) and bizarre shapes in some of the minor genera.

The keys seem workable, and where species are similar in appearance, they have been placed on adjoining pages. I'm no expert on terrestrials, but the information seems up-to-date and well presented.

Finally, I might mention that many terrestrials do not respond to artificial cultivation; so leave them in the bush. Those that are easy are readily available as dormant tubers, by mail order from southern states.

This review has been reproduced from the December 1995 issue of the newsletter of the Queensland Region of SGAP.

Native Gardens - How to Create an Australian Landscape
Bill Molyneux and Ross Macdonald

Published by Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, Australia; 1992

Reviewed by Charlie Hohnen

Is your garden full of interesting plants, yet nothing "goes" with anything else? This book may help you create a harmonious and functional landscape instead of just a collection of plants.

The authors, both acknowledged expert native-planters, believe that this book "is the first to deal with designing gardens using Australian plants in an Australian landscape".

There are chapters on planning, on paths, steps, fences and seating, on big trees and roots (a problem for many gardeners), on inner city gardens, coastal gardens, gardening for the disabled and many more of interest.

There are numerous delightful colour plates and excellent black and white photographs to illustrate the various points of design and plant use in each chapter.

Although the authors are Victorians and use as examples species suited to that region, there is a great deal of useful information for any Australian gardener in this attractive and well-presented publication. The instructions for making artificial rocks alone may revolutionise your approach to landscaping.

This review has been reproduced from the December 1983 issue of the newsletter of the Queensland Region of SGAP. It was a review of the first edition of this book which was first published in 1983. The new edition remains basically the same with some relatively minor revisions to bring it up to date.

The Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants - Supplements 1 and 2
W. Rodger Elliot and David L. Jones

Published by Lothian Publishing Company Pty Ltd, Melbourne.
$AUS40 (Number 1); $AUS24.95 (Number 2)

Reviewed by David Davie and Robert Bowden

The "Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants suitable for cultivation" commenced publication in 1980. Since Volume 1, there have been five more volumes with three remaining volumes to be published to complete the set.

To ensure that information published in earlier volumes is kept up to date, Lothian books has brought out two Supplements which include:

  • a bulletin of the latest name changes
  • full encyclopaedic entries for previously unclassified plants plus black and white line drawings
  • a full index of general topics included in all volumes
  • a common names index for current volumes updated as new volumes are published.
  • an explanation of authors' citations used in published volumes of the Encyclopaedia
Future supplements will include a discussion of plant issues of interest to botanists, collectors and Australian plant enthusiasts.

The need for supplements is evidence of the dynamic nature of Australian plant taxonomy and horticulture. Some people may find plant name changes tedious and at times frustrating, but they are seldom made without detailed study and consideration of the implications. A taxonomist's reputation, like that of a judge, is based on how well his or her decisions are accepted and quoted by peers.

It is important that advances in horticultural techniques and the development of new cultivars are included in a basic reference such as the Encyclopaedia which, by its very depth, will take a long time to complete.

The purchase of the first supplement entitles the buyer to a handsome ring binder with a cover to match the individual Encyclopaedia volumes; with alphabetical divider tabs plus extra tabs for General Information, Name Changes, and Indexes, as well as the 136 page Supplement No 1.

Supplement No 2 slots easily into the ring binder provided with Supplement No.1. Keen readers of the Encyclopaedia with plenty of time may wish to annotate their copies of volumes 1-6 to indicate if there is a supplement entry.

This review has been combined from reviews published in the June 1995 issue of the newsletter of the SGAP Victorian Region and the March 1996 issue of the Journal of the SGAP Canberra Region. Supplement No.1 covers genera A to C while Supplement No. 2 covers genera C to H.

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