Touchwood Books Newsletter August 2008

We have just received a letter from the bank saying that if we get our monthly statements sent online, they will have a tree planted for us in the South Island. We would still print out the statements so that we can check through them, so there's not much saving of paper there - just the saving on postage.

The British publishers are trying to 'green' their image by using only paper that comes from 'sustainable' forests or recycled paper. You can also pay money to have trees planted to offset your carbon emissions when flying about in airplanes. All this is aimed at salving your conscience, so to jump on the bandwagon I would like to assure you that you are dealing with a very 'green' bookshop.

Over the years I have planted literally thousands of trees on our 242 hectare sheep and beef farm. What prodded me into action in the first place was reading "The One Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka of Japan. The book is still available, $45.

This is a windy district and Fukuoka advocated planting trees to capture your next door neighbour's topsoil as it blows away, and to keep your own in place. I have planted trees for beauty, stock shade, and for stock feed. I have trialled various trees to see if they will grow in this area, 50 km west of Hastings. I still have a nice area of about 5 hectares I would like to plant in totara and rimu, but am not doing a thing until the carbon credit system is sorted out.

"The Gardens of Russell Page" by Gabrielle Van Zuylen and Marina Schinz is due again this month. This book, which was first published in 1991, has been completely redesigned and includes new photos of gardens designed by Page. Born in America in 1906, he trained as an artist and brought a keen eye for style to the many vast garden projects he undertook in Britain, Europe and America. Shape and form were more important to him than colour. Before he died in 1985 he wrote "The Education of a Gardener" which has been reprinted many times and is still available in paperback for $50. It is a book you either love or loathe and I find his style of writing hard work. "The Gardens of Russell Page" is a big, beautiful hardback with more than 250 colour photos. The first edition has been selling for up to $500 second-hand. The new edition is $115.

Graham Harvey, our computer boffin, works here part time and has also been spending a day a week helping a neighbouring bull farmer. That has come to an end but Graham will now spend five mornings a week feeding out to 1000 dairy cows on a newly established dairy farm 10 km up the road. He will be working here in the afternoons, attending to our new website which is still not up and running, but should be shortly.

I have just been reading "Gardening When it Counts - Growing Food in Hard Times" by Steve Solomon. First published in 2005, it is now in its 5th printing. The author ran a mail order vegetable seed company in America for several years, before moving to Tasmania. The aim of the book is to help you grow the best possible crops for the least amount of money. You can spend a lot of money buying expensive fertilisers, seeds with poor germination rates or seedlings that don't transplant well. He explains the basics in great detail and from his own experience that included an unsuccessful organic market gardening venture. There is a swing back to home vegetable growing at present but with sections getting smaller, gardeners have to adopt intensive, square foot gardening methods. The author points out that plants don't like competition - they need to be spaced well apart to minimize the use of water and fertilisers. A 340 page paperback, black and white line drawings. $45.

Diane and I attended the NZ Booksellers' Association Conference in Wellington on July 20-21. Two of the books we stock won awards.

"Wetlands of New Zealand - A Bitter Sweet Story" by Janet Hunt won the Montana Medal for Non-fiction and was the Environment category winner. A big format, 256 page hardback, well illustrated with good colour photos throughout, it looks at all the different types of wetlands to be found throughout New Zealand. $70.

The other book to get a prize was "The Great Sacred Forest of Tane - A Natural Pre-history of Aotearoa New Zealand" by Alan Clarke. This large, 448 page hardback looks at the historical uses of New Zealand's native flora. It has taken the author 30 years of research to complete. For his efforts he won the NZ Society of Authors' EH McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-fiction. $95.

Not a Montana winner but a really good read is "Swamp Fever" by Gerard Hindmarsh who left his map making job with Lands & Survey Department in Wellington to buy a scrub covered patch of swampy land at Tukurua, near Collingwood, in Golden Bay. He was about to drain his swamp, then at the last minute decided not to and becomes, instead, quite besotted with wetlands in general. He gets a job with Solly's, the local trucking company, gets caught growing marijuana, is part of the 1970s hippie community, and sets up a picture theatre in Motueka. He is a natural storyteller and today comments on Asian Affairs for the national radio morning programme. He has just had an article published in the 'NZ Listener' on the horrors of US airports and their officials. A 193 page paperback with not one picture, $35. The book was first published in 2006, but we have only recently latched onto it after hearing him interviewed on the radio. Diane and I both enjoyed the book and more or less simultaneously said to each other "I'd like to see what he looks like".

"On Chestnuts - The Trees and Their Seeds" by Ria Loohuizen covers both the horse chestnut and the sweet chestnut, giving their history and uses. The horse chestnut has medicinal properties but is not for eating, while the sweet chestnut is very edible. This little, 136 page paperback has a good collection of more than 50 sweet chestnut recipes. We have a small grove of about 40 chestnut trees but I find the task of peeling the nuts very time consuming, so don't eat them as often as I would like. The book is illustrated with some black and white line drawings. $40.

“Eagle's Complete Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand" by Audrey Eagle is due again next month. Huge 500 page, 2 volume set in a slipcase. Beautiful botanical paintings of more than 800 native trees and shrubs, along with botanical descriptions of each. This will be the third printing. $250.

Fiona Eadie, the head gardener at Larnach Castle, has revised and updated her very popular "100 Best Native Plants For New Zealand Gardens". Very easy to follow and each plant is well illustrated with good colour photos. 336 pages, flexibind. $45.

Also in a new, revised edition is Lawrie Metcalf's "The Cultivation of New Zealand Native Grasses". Due September. $35.

Diane and I will be spending the first two weeks of August in Noosa, just north of Brisbane. I am looking forward to some warmth.

On Wednesday August 27 we will be at 'Commercial Horticulture' magazine's Spring Trade Day at Auckland Show Grounds, Greenlane Road West. We will also be at the Auckland Flower Show, Alexandra Park, November 20-23. On November 22-23 (clash of dates) we will also have a stand at the Hamilton Small Block Expo, Claudelands Showgrounds.

If you wish to order any of these titles just email us or use our secure online order form at . Postage and packaging is $5 per parcel for NZ orders under 2kg, less if books are light. Overseas orders and NZ orders heavier than 2kg will be quoted. All titles mentioned have been in stock unless otherwise stated but may not be when you order. We accept all New Zealand book tokens. To unsubscribe just send us an email asking to be removed from the mailing list.