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Hakeas: A Field and Garden Guide - Ivan Holliday

Reviewed by Paul Kennedy

Ever since the revision of the Hakea genus was published in Flora of Australia, volume 17B, in 1999, there has been a need to have a book with detailed descriptions and photos of all the hakeas. Ivan's book has finally fulfilled this need.

Jennifer Young's three booklets on Hakeas of Western Australia helped to make identification of Western Australian hakeas easier but there was still no complete book on hakeas of Australia.

The field and garden guide is in booklet form and easy to carry around when wandering in the bush or in your garden. Basic information about hakeas is given in the introduction. However, I would like to have seen a note on encouraging people to grow their local hakeas as they are often forgotten for the more cultivated species.

The hakeas are described in alphabetical order except where similar species or sub-species occur. Each species is described by approximate height and width, leaf and flower size, arrangement and colour, flowering time and duration and size and shape of fruit.

The distribution of each species is specified as between certain towns, or in National Parks. This is adequate for most people but occasionally a road map may need to be consulted. There are also notes on soil types in which the plant grows. I find the latter important as it gives us a guide to what preparation we need to do to our soil so that we can grow it successfully. Generally I have found hakeas to be tolerant of a wide variety of soils, which make them ideal for our gardens. The notes on cultivation have been prepared from the author's observations and discussions with avid growers of hakeas. Some of the lesser known species are still being trialled but they are showing promise of being quite hardy in a range of soils. Ivan's detailed drawings of leaf, fruit and bush shape are excellent and help to make it easier to identify the plant. However, the large photos of nearly all species in flower are clear, concise and give a true indication of the species' potential as a flowering plant.

This booklet is a must for all those interested in hakeas, or want to have a reference to identification of hakeas in the bush. It is well written and presented. It is reasonably priced and a recommended Christmas present for your gardening friends to encourage them to grow hakeas in their gardens.

Hakeas: A Field and Garden Guide

Ivan Holliday, Reed New Holland, Sydney, 2005
RRP $29.95
Paperback, 224 pages, colour illustrations

From Growing Australian, the newsletter of the Victorian Region of the Australian Plants Society.

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Australian Plants online - 2006
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