This is in every way such a wonderful book that it should be in the library of every person with an interest in gardening, botany or shamanism. Huanduj Brugmansia is the new book on the genus by Alistair Hay, Monika Gottschalk, Adolfo Holguin
Brugmansia, I’ll always think of them as Datura or Angels Trumpets are, when in flower, amongst the most beautiful of all shrubby plants. They can be grown happily in all the capital cities and coastal gardens with ease. A few years ago, whilst doing some work for the Melbourne City Council, I planted several different varieties of Brugmansia in various city parks such as the Fitzroy, Flagstaff and Alexandra Gardens. All grew and flowered well. In colder inland gardens they can be grown but need to be protected from frosts by over wintering in a poly-house or under a verandah.
Alistair Hay, who is the main author of Huanuj, is a distinguished botanist and a fine gardener. He has needed both disciplines and those of a historian and photographer to produce this book which covers the botany, history, horticulture and ethnobotany of Brugmansia.
In a fascinating and detailed chapter, Sacrament and Medicine, Hay sympathetically and respectfully discusses shamanism and the spiritual and healing use of psychoactive plants in general and Brugmansia in particular.
The chapters on taxonomy and botany will be the reference for many years to come. If by necessity quite technical these chapters are never-the-less well written and accessible to non botanists.
I remember seeing some amazing Brugmansia clones, one lemon and one watermelon pink, in Leo Schofield’s garden at Bronte House in Sydney. They were on two metre or more tall standards and had dozens of angel trumpets hanging from the crown. I’d always wondered how this effect was accomplished and found in the chapter on propagation that you take two metre long cuttings. Everything anyone would ever want to know about growing these plants, including growing them in frosty gardens like mine, can be found in Huanduj.
The book is beautifully written, contains hundreds of excellent mouth watering photographs and is without doubt the best book for gardeners published this year. It will be the most important work on the genus for many, many years.
If you have a friend or partner who is interested in gardening then you could buy no better book for a Christmas present. Huanduj can be ordered from Florilegium Books www.florilegium.com.au
Memories of Arnold Teese
Arnold Teese, the founder of Yamina Nursery, died recently. I had the great good fortune of working with Arnold for several years during the late 1960s and early 1970s. We were both employed at Australia’s best known Rhododendron nursery, Boulters, in Olinda, Victoria. Arnold was the propagator there and had the happy knack of being able to put roots on a large number, some tens of thousands, of rhododendrons every year. Boulters at that time grew a terrific wide range and all the varieties needed specific and particular treatment.
Anyone who has tried to propagate Rhododendrons either from cuttings, seed or grafting would know just how difficult a task it is. For a young man, as I was then, it was an exciting time. I was desperately inquisitive about all things horticultural and Arnold, who had for many years lectured at Burnley College, was extraordinarily generous and patient with me. Every lunch time and every smoko, all the workers at the nursery puffed away on cigarettes or tobacco pipes so the lunch room was a nicotine smog, I’d fire a barrage of questions at Arnold. He always answered me with quiet patience and if he was ever irritated by my incessant enthusiasm he never showed it.
Arnold Teese was a plantsman first and last. It was a privilege to work with him.