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Book Review

Good Gardens With Less Water
Kevin Handreck

Reviewed by Elspeth Jacobs

Book cover

Kevin Handreck is a CSIRO soil scientist whose earlier book "Gardening Down-under" is well known.

His new book could be seen as a companion to this, responding to the changing face of gardening as less and less water is available.

It is an authoritative book in which Handreck says "I will show you that with a little thought and some effort, it is possible to have a beautiful garden almost anywhere in Australia even with the most severe restrictions on the use of water from municipal supplies", (pvii).

Chapters cover the causes of water shortage, plants (native and exotic) and water, soils, water quality, watering systems, mulches, lawns, potting mixes, greywater use etc.

There is a wealth of information here, with many useful insights, eg. some benefits of water stress, the need for phosphorus for the early development of eucalyptus seedlings, getting to know your own soil, and hints on making and using compost. There are also simple hints on the planting of trees and shrubs, and the pitfalls and problems of greywater re-cycling.

There are certainly some sections that are very technical and complicated. These will be of more use to professionals such as fruit and vegetable growers, golf course curators, landscapers, irrigation consultants, greywater consultants, horticulturists, potting mix suppliers, etc.

However, each reader can use the information available to their own level of interest and understanding.

The generous use of photographs and diagrams assist with understanding of technical questions, and the list of acknowledgements shows the great range of expertise that has been called upon.

If you are willing to put in "a little thought and some effort" (to quote Handreck), then this may be the book for you.

Good Gardens With Less Water

Kevin Handreck
CSIRO Publishing, 2008
RRP $34.95
Paperback, 176 pages, 240 mm x 190 mm, colour photographs

From 'Growing Australian', the newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (Victoria), September 2008.

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Australian Plants online - 2008
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