Click here to see enlargement of front cover Bromeliads for the Contemporary Garden

Andrew Steens
Timber Press
ISBN 0-88192-604-3
Published 2003

A Review by Bob Reilly, Bromeliad Society of Queensland

Andrew Steens grows bromeliads in New Zealand. Not surprisingly, the book reflects this perspective. Thus elements of the book, for example the author's comments on the sun-hardiness of particular bromeliads, need to be treated with caution, given the significant climatic differences between coastal Queensland and New Zealand. (However, this may not be as significant an issue for growers in the colder parts of Queensland.)

The book is a comprehensive introduction to growing bromeliads. In my view, it is one of the best books available on this topic today. Experienced growers will also find much of interest in it.

Bromeliads for the contemporary garden has 198 pages and 300 high quality photographs. A high standard of accuracy in matters such as plant names and descriptions has been achieved. In the first chapter, an overview is given of the bromeliad family, and their native habitats. An informative chapter on landscaping with bromeliads then follows.

The bulk of the book is a listing of 24 commonly encountered genera and 4 bi-genera. Over 200 species and hybrids are described in non-technical language. Many of these plants are illustrated with colour photographs. Most of these bromeliads are available in Australia. Of particular interest to myself, is the description (and photographs) of species from some of the genera, for example Fasicularia, Ochagavia, and Puya; which do not always flower well in coastal Queensland.

The next chapter deals with bromeliad cultivation. Caution is needed before applying some of this chapter's recommendations, given the different climatic conditions between coastal Queensland and New Zealand. However, most of the material is applicable. All of the major topics relevant to growing bromeliads, for example, watering schedules, pest/disease recognition and control, and fertilising; are well covered in non-technical language.

The book concludes with a short chapter on bromeliad propagation and a comprehensive index.

Bromeliads for the contemporary garden is excellent value for money. The photographs alone are worth the purchase price. However, this book is much more than a compilation of photographs. Overall, it is highly recommended.

Year of Review: 2003