Allaway, Zia, Leendertz, Lia, and Jennifer Wilkinson. How to grow practically everything: 100s of Australian gardening projects

Dorling Kindersely, $39.95

This is a British gardening guide, marginally modified for an Australian audience.

This edition, published in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society (UK), includes unspecified material by an “Australian consultant” who lives in Victoria and writes for The Age. That may explain why some plant selections seem alien to a subtropical gardener. Curiously, there’s no appraisal of the varied climates of our wide brown land. For a gardening book to be “Australian”, it needs to address these differences. For example, growing vegetables differs between states. What is detailed here is planting for Melbourne, Adelaide and maybe Sydney. No custard apples, snake beans or chokos. Minimal bananas or avocados.

An English origin may explain the miserly few Australian natives, shoehorned between cottage-dominated themes. And if the lovely pics themselves seem a little foreign, that may be because they are. A quick squiz at the picture credits takes us far away, to Hampton Court, Chelsea, Herefordshire, and Oxfordshire.

Lovely ideas for garden beds, but they fail for this reader as many of the suggested plants are not suitable for a subtropical climate. Which is a shame, because this hefty guide’s strengths are many. Basic how-to practicalities, like propagating plants, turfing lawns, and trimming topiaries, are neatly broached. Some of the hints are indeed very handy.

Buy this for someone starting their first garden. Particularly if that garden is in Melbourne, or Islington.


Reviewed August 2011