A gentle plea for…indexes


Cover of Creating an Australian Garden. Photo by the author

I don’t normally do book reviews on this blog but my recent experience with hunting for specific information has induced me to write this. Hear ye, all future garden authors. Include an index, as fulsome an index as you can make it.

A comprehensive index is a god send to a reader. I will seriously consider whether I should bother buying a book if it doesn’t have an index. My time is just as precious as anyone else’s and a quality index makes my research task quicker and simpler. It’s for this reason that I didn’t buy this book until it went on sale. It’s a real shame as it’s a beautiful book in many other ways. The photography is excellent, and many of the plants mentioned in the index are photographed. But definitely not all, and it would be easy on a cursory flip through to think that they were.

He writes in an accessible and at times humourous style. I especially enjoyed the description of discovering the nature of clay soil. He presents an interesting selection of native gardens as a vantage point, ranging from the suburban backyard to his own forty acres, and gives plenty of interesting material to mull over when it comes to planning a garden to suit your site and your aesthetic aspirations. However, this doesn’t encompass growing for cut flowers. Hence, I waded through the full text of the last section of the book to isolate out plants recommended for that purpose.

The list below is of plants specifically mentioned in the text description of each plant as being suitable for floristry, either for flowers, foliage or nuts. This list is limited to those specifically mentioned, but there are others which could easily be interpreted as being useful for floristry such as many of the other kangaroo paws. Of course, if there’d been an index, I wouldn’t have had to do this.

After this experience, I evaluated the quality of the index of many of my other garden books. My limited collection of native plant books did not yield joy. In a coming post there will be a similar list to that below from the book with the widest references, again to save you the work. My other books, much more extensive and not counting the rose books, were not much better. This goes to show how little cut flowers have been valued in recent decades.

I hope readers find this list useful.

Love, SRR

Anigozanthus ‘Big red’

Boronia megastima ‘Heaven scent’, ‘Purple jared’

Banksia ‘Yellow wing’

Ceratopetalum gummniferum ‘Albery’s red’

Chamelaucium (Geraldton wax) ‘Dancing queen’, ‘Lady Stephanie’, ‘Revelation’, ‘Purple pride’.

Corymbia ‘Baby orange’, ‘Baby scarlet’, ‘Fairy floss’, ‘Wildfire’, ‘Summer red’

Crowea hybrid ‘Festival’

Goodenia ovata ‘Lighten up’

Grevillea ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Jubilee’, Poorinda Peter’, Poorinda Blondie’

Isopogon ‘Pink profusion’

Leptospermum ‘Cherish’, Leptospermum morissonii ‘Burgundy’

Calothamnus diosmifolia ‘Coral flush, ‘Just blush’, ‘Radiance’, ‘Winter white’

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Black lea’, ‘Nafray’, ‘Penn stripe’

Philotheca ‘Bournda Beauty’, ‘Flower girl’, ‘Moon shadow’, ‘Profusion’, ‘Winter Rouge’

Telopea ‘Bridal Gown’, ‘Braidwood brilliant’, Coroboree waratah’, ‘Golden globe’, ‘Shady lady pink’, ‘Shady lady red’, ‘Ballerina’, ‘Fire and brimstone’, ‘Pink passion’, ‘Shade of pale’, ‘Wirrinbirra white’

Thryptomene saxicola ‘FC Payne’, ‘Supernova’

Xerochrysum ‘Cockatoo’, ‘Dargan Hill monarch’, ‘Diamond Head’.


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