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Back to Otago: the gardens are the Stuarts' impressive Wanaka property, the Blairs near Arrowtown, Cromwell's Briar Dell and, in Dunedin, Larnach Castle and Dunedin Botanic Garden. All are fine gardens and well deserve inclusion.
In her introduction to Garden Tours: A Visitor's Guide to 50 Top New Zealand Gardens, Hickman notes that the selection of gardens was based on the photographic portfolio of Steven Wooster, an English photographer who has made several visits to New Zealand.
Although Hickman refers to Christchurch as her home city, she trained at Kew Gardens, in London, and now lives in England. That may explain her overemphasis on the influence on New Zealand of English gardeners such as Vita Sackville-West, Rosemary Verey, Penelope Hobhouse and Christopher Lloyd, and the fact that many of the selected gardens are English in style.
Apparently Hickman based the book on phone interviews with garden owners, plus contributions from the likes of the Taranaki Regional Council, which supplied the text for Tupare, Pukeiti and Hollard gardens.
These items are the best-written parts of the book, whose text could have been significantly improved with better editing.
Here's a sentence that illustrates the point: "In 1978, Lynne and Les Atkins inherited a 0.2 hectare (half-acre) garden surrounding the house from Less parents, with the Atkins family having been here since the 1960s."
The other editing criticism is reserved for whoever decided to skip an introduction to each garden and instead have the first paragraph of the feature printed in capital letters in light green type.
Apart from being difficult to read, it looks, frankly, dreadful. I had expected great things of Wooster and, although his photos are adequate, some have a slightly dingy look and a couple of my favourite gardens - Sir Miles Warren's magnificent Banks Peninsula property, Ohinetahi, and Te Kainga Marire, in New Plymouth - are not well-served pictorially.
Ohinetahi's coverage is dominated by photos of buildings and only that of the walled red garden gives any idea of how splendid this garden is.
Thankfully, the Otago gardens and Maple Glen fare better but it's difficult to get excited enough about Garden Tours: A Visitor's Guide to 50 Top New Zealand Gardens to spend nearly $50 on the book.
• Gillian Vine is a Dunedin garden writer.