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Review of The Book of Little Hostas

Reviewer: June Colley - writer and botanist with a collection of hostas

The book of Little HostasThe Book of Little Hostas by Kathy Guest Shadrack and Michael Shadrack
208pp 2010
Timber Press
RRP £17.99




Small, very small, and miniature hostas are becoming increasingly popular perennials, and it is easy to see why when you open this book. The authors, who have gardened for more than 25 years, are no strangers to British Hosta enthusiasts. The reader is introduced to hostas with a brief but well-written history of the genus.

The centrepiece of the book describes more than 150 of these perennial treasures, providing clear instructions for cultivation and how to display each. There are so many to choose from, and close-up pictures on every page illustrate their charms.

Hosts of miniature hostas

In the ground, raised beds, containers or hanging in pots, little hostas are ideal either as specimen plants or in miniature borders and landscapes. Many pictures show how gardeners are using these new hostas in their plantings.

There are chapters exploring several groups of little hostas including Hosta cultivars similar to, or derived from, ‘Cheatin’ Heart’, ‘Lemon Lime’, ‘Baby Bunting’ and ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.

The use of companion plants is discussed and the final sections tell where to see and buy little hostas as well as offering a list of further reading. This highly informative book is a valuable addition to the gardener’s bookshelf and will please both novices and serious hosta collectors.

Review of This Infant Adventure

Reviewer: Brent Elliott - Historian for the Royal Horticultural Society

This infant adventureThis Infant Adventure by Christian Lamb
224pp 2010
Bene Factum Publishing
RRP £19.99

This book consists of brief accounts of 10 botanic gardens, from the Caribbean to India and Australia. They were founded during – or soon after – the heyday of Sir Joseph Banks in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and served as a network for which the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was the centre.

It is a little more than 30 years since Lucile Brockway published the first study of the role of Kew in the British Empire, and nearly 15 since Donal McCracken’s Gardens of Empire. Much of the comment that the network of colonial botanic gardens has received has consisted of variations on the platitude that empires are oppressive.

Among those whose exploits the author describes, some are now well known (Robert Fortune) and others deserving to be better known (Sir Ferdinand von Mueller).

The author has visited all but one of the gardens, and her impressions of them are woven into her accounts. This is a book of great charm, agreeably written, and readers will have their eyes opened to a range of interesting gardens and speculations on world history.

Brent Elliott is Historian for the Royal Horticultural Society

Review of The Green Roof Manual

Reviewer: Dr Nigel Dunnett - Professor in Planting Design, University of Sheffield

The Green Roof ManualThe Green Roof Manual
by Edmund C Snodgrass and Linda McIntyre
296pp 2010
Timber Press
RRP £25

A plethora of green-roof books have been published over the last few years, many of which deal with similar topics, and are aimed mainly at designers. Any new book on the topic has to justify its publication; fortunately, this book does just that.

Edmund Snodgrass has had arguably more experience of real green-roof projects than virtually anyone else in North America, and his teaming up with journalist Linda McIntyre has produced a readable and authoritative text. It is well illustrated with useful and inspiring photographs.

Small and larger scale roof-gardening

The book begins with a round-up of the latest research supporting the benefits that green roofs bring, and a description of the characteristics of different types of green roof. But its greatest value lies in its fundamental questioning of the assumptions underlying standard practices, the highlighting of common pitfalls, and the clear setting-out of good practice in designing, installing, planting and (crucially) maintaining a green roof.

While the focus is on predominantly North American experience of medium- to large-scale projects, this book should be the starting point for anyone wishing to understand the current state of the art in green-roof specification, installation and maintenance.

Other book reviews on this page

Green roof
  • The Infant Adventure
  • The Green Roof Manual

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