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Vireyas for New Zealand Gardeners

Gardening Books Reviewed

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Vireyas for New Zealand Gardeners
John Kenyon and Jacqueline Walker (Random House New Zealand 1997, reprinted 1999)

Another book in the invaluable series of Godwit New Zealand Gardening Guides, written especially for New Zealand gardeners. The authors credentials are impeccable, John Kenyon is a vireya specialist nurseryman and Jacqueline Walker is an experienced gardener writer and author of Subtropical Gardens.

Starting with an explanation of what a vireya rhododendron is and describing the plants in the wild the authors move on to what is the crux of the matter for most of us - the cultivation of these desirable plants and their use in garden design.

Discussion of cultivating vireyas deals with such contentious subjects as sun-tolerance and the need for shade. This includes a useful, practical segment on the aspects of cultivation that seem to cause the most heartache; feeding, watering and mulching of vireyas. Pruning and shaping, another cause of anxiety, are also dealt with in a sensible, understandable 'how-to' way. Common problems covered include insects, diseases, fungal infections, frost and more. And there is an explanation of techniques for those wishing to increase their stocks.

Growing vireyas in the garden and in containers requires different gardening techniques, both explained clearly. The authors extend this to discuss growing miniature, spreading plants in hanging baskets, a novel and captivating concept. For those in cooler climes, growing vireyas indoors presents its own set of challenges, all de-mystified in a dedicated section.

How to incorporate and best display vireyas in the garden is described, with advice on suitable companion plants. There is a useful list of plants by colour and design use, as well as a listing of hybrids available in New Zealand and sources for these sometimes-elusive plants.

Written by New Zealanders with advice and cultivation notes for our climate and conditions and describing plants that are available here. A truly useful book. If you already grow, or aspire to grow vireyas, this book is a must for its concise, practical advice and design insights.

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Last revised 18 Sep '02