Touchwood Books Newsletter September 2008

At the beginning of August Diane and I spent two weeks in Noosa (north of Brisbane) with daughter Lucy, her spouse Hamish and grandson Oliver. Went for walks in Noosa National Park but didn't see any koalas, had a boat trip into the everglades (vegetation amongst flowing water as opposed to stagnant). Lots of scrubby eucalypts, grevilleas, melaleucas, banksias, and grass trees, plus, in sheltered spots, Araucaria Cunninghamia (hoop pine) and quandongs. Some bauhinias were flowering in the streets. We were staying at Sunshine Beach with Pandanus trees growing everywhere and Sansevieria had taken off on banks leading down to the beach. Nice and warm 20 - 22°C but the lawn mower man had just returned from Fiji where it was 30°C and he was freezing.

Went and visited Alan and Anne Munro who have just moved to a new house they have built at Gympie. They used to own and edit 'Growing Today' magazine before moving to Australia about six years ago.

At the end of August we did 'Commercial Horticulture' magazine's one-day trade day at Auckland Show grounds. Everyone was sick of the wet. It's a great day catching up with everyone in the nursery trade, and seeing all the beautifully displayed plants.

On arrival home two books were sitting on my desk that would have been of interest in Auckland.

The first "Between the Rows - Stories From the Rose Nurseries of New Zealand" - is by one of our very good customers, Joanne Knight, of Kauri Creek Nursery at Katikati. In all, the book covers 19 rose nurseries and their histories - just about all of them small, family-owned businesses. A very interesting read, with black and white photos of those involved. 73 pages, A5 sized paperback, $20.

Joanne Knight is interested in Tea Roses and we have just received “Tea Roses - Old Roses For Warm Gardens" by Lynne Chapman, Noelene Drage, Di Durston, Jenny Jones, Hillary Merrifield and Billy West. Originating in China and introduced to Europe in the 1820s, they were at first called tea- scented China roses. They do well in heat, with the dry, are pretty disease- resistant, don't need much pruning, and flower for a long time. Diane has 'General Gallieni', 'Jean Ducher', 'Souvenir de Mme Leonie Viennot' and 'Comtesse de Labarthe' in flower at present. A big, 240 page hardback, the book is well illustrated with good colour photos throughout. $80.

The second book we should have had at the trade day was "Grafting and Budding - A Practical Guide For Fruit and Nut Plants and Ornamentals" by WJ Lewis and D McE Alexander. This is a new edition, 100 page paperback, with more than 60 sketches and photos to help illustrate the various methods. Easy-to-follow instructions and includes roses. $40.

We have about an acre of naturalised daffodils growing in the paddocks in front of the houses. Not a flower to be seen. The wretched sheep have developed a taste for the flower buds and scoffed the lot. When I started farming here 35 years ago we had fat, short-legged, wool-blind Romneys that were shorn once a year. The sheep are still Romneys, but are open- faced, shorn every 8 months, have long legs and speed about like goats. Looking out of Tracey's packing table window I can watch the rams standing on their back legs to eat magnolias, maples, rhus and at present an unnamed rose which years ago we found growing on the roadside.

As I'm now a pensioner, or getting decrepit, I realise there are quite a few trees that I've always meant to plant, but never have. Today I collected Sorbus aurea lutescens from Gillian Thrum of 'The Green Door' or Peak Perennials. They were in the process of altering the plant retail area, giving more space to fruit and vegetables. Gillian said their vegetable plant sales are up 300 per cent this year.

"Everything I Want to Do is Illegal" by Joel Salatin is not about taking drugs or robbing banks, but about all the rules and regulations a small American farmer has to contend with. Joel is a lateral thinker, running cattle, poultry and pigs plus about 500 acres of trees. He is almost organic except for the fact that he buys his grain from the next door neighbour, rather than truck it from the nearest organic grower 500 miles away. A provocative and entertaining read, 358 pages, paperback, $45.

We have two nice little paperback cookbooks from Jan Bilton, the well- known food writer:

"The New Zealand Kiwifruit Cookbook" is 72 pages with recipes for drinks, starters, mains, salads, sweet treats and preserves. Mouth-watering colour photos of the end results. This is the fourth edition and the book has now sold more than 130,000 copies. $15 including postage.

"Tamarillo" is the second book with recipes for starters, mains, desserts and preserves. It has 64 pages and not so many colour photos. $15 including postage. Diane, who wisely seldom listens to me, planted a tamarillo (or tree tomato) several years ago. We built a great big frost tent for it, but it still got frosted, as I said it would. However it has battled along and this year it has fruit ready to eat. I am going to study Jan Bilton's book closely.

"Kauri" by Keith Stewart is a coffee-table type book outlining the history of Agathis australis since it first appeared in Gondwana 135 million years ago. Covers Maori legends and uses, plus European logging, gum digging and land clearance. It is not about how to grow it. Excellent illustrations, both historical and modern. A 176 page hardback, $60.

Issue 3, August 2008 of "The Gardener's Journal" edited by Margaret Long is now out. Another good read about plant people, individual plants, landscape architecture, garden history and travel. For more info contact Margaret at PO Box 37-246, Halswell, Christchurch. This excellent New Zealand publication needs more support.

"The Complete Book of Garlic" by Ted Jordan Meredith is a big, 330 page monograph profiling nearly 150 kinds of garlic, how to grow and use them in the kitchen or medicinally. All aspects of cultivation, from the home garden through to commercial plantings, are dealt with. Good colour photos throughout. This is the first major book I've seen on garlic. Hardback, $90.

"The Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants For Temperate Climates” by Will Giles covers more than 1500 high impact plants including aroids, bamboos, bananas, bromeliads, succulents, yuccas, palms, cycads and restios. More than 500 colour photos accompany the easy-to-follow text. Big format, 440 page hardback, $115.

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.