Book review: 100 Best New Zealand Native Plants

Title: 100 Best New Zealand Native Plants for gardens

Author: Fiona Eadie

About the author:                                                                                                 

Fiona Eadie has an MSc in botany from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. She has worked for the New Zealand Forest Service, and managed a native plant nursery for many years. Currently, she is the head gardener of Larnach castle, New Zealand’s only castle. She also writes for professional journals, takes part in radio shows about horticultural topics, and trains others in the art and practice of horticulture.

About the book:                                                                                     

The plants described and illustrated in 100 Best New Zealand Native Plants are organised by plant type, i.e. trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous plants & grasses, ferns, and ground covers.

The descriptions follow a consistent pattern throughout the book, beginning with a general introduction about the plant, its growth habit, botanical features, and natural habitat in New Zealand. Next, the plant’s likes and dislikes are described, specifying preferred growing conditions, tolerances, and which situations to avoid. Potential disease symptoms and signs of pest damage, including ways to deal with these or prevent them, follow under the heading ‘Pests and Problems’. Subsequently, the care and maintenance requirements such as pruning, mulching, and fertilising are explained.  The next section ‘Landscape Suggestions’, is of particular interest to me as a landscape designer. Here, the author describes how the plant can be used effectively in garden settings, and suggests creative combinations with other New Zealand native plants. Each entry concludes with a description of similar species that could be used instead, and/ or cultivars where applicable. A separate checklist specifies the expected proportions and serves as a summary of preferred and tolerated growing conditions.

This is an attractive paperback with excellent information and good illustrations. The fact that it concerns only a selection of the vast array of New Zealand native plants is not limiting, but makes venturing into the world of natives less overwhelming. Great for people who are interested in New Zealand plants, but need guidance with plant selection, and subsequently with growing and caring for them. Not just for the coffee table, but a reference book with practical information for home gardeners, professional horticulturalists, landscapers and landscape designers.

Where to buy:                                                                  

100 Best New Zealand Native Plants for gardens was first published in 2001, and has been reprinted several y times. If you are outside New Zealand, the link below will take you straight to this item in the Amazon book store. The second, revised edition, published in 2008 under the title ‘100 Best Native Plants for New Zealand Gardens’, is available from several sources in New Zealand.