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Book Review

Oron Peri - Bulbs of the Eastern Mediterranean
An Alpine Garden Society Field Guide - 2015
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This is one of those gardening books that will drive you crazy; you will want it, yet it is expensive; you need it but the cost is daunting; you cannot live without it but can you afford it; it will be a major reference work but how will it repay you?

Lavishly illustrated with glorious colour photographs it covers bulbous plants from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, Syria and the NE corner of Egypt – all parts of the world rarely covered by other monographs and plant collectors 'Bibles'. And every one of them a country strongly linked to the Mediterranean climate zones and the Mediterranean world. More than 400 different plant species are illustrated with over 600 pictures.

Approximately one fifth of the plants included are terrestrial orchids which are virtually impossible to obtain outside their homelands and some readers will find that rather annoying but others will accept their inclusion for the sake of completeness of the text. Two of the plants, Paeonia mascula and Paeonia kesrouanensis, are more truly perennials than bulbs, however the tuberous roots do exhibit some bulb-like qualities in that they are swollen and charged with water. Yet other bulbs included by Peri are only too well known as pernicious weeds eg, Oxalis pes-caprae – the dreaded soursob. Even in its double form it will hardly be met with unalloyed joy by those who face up to the pestiferous bulbs every winter.

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Raising such plants from seeds seems the only likely means by which many of these plant treasures will be made available to our gardens and collections. By remarkable good fortune Oron and his business partner, Mansour Yassin, live near Kiryat Tiv'on, halfway between Nazareth and Haifa, where they operate a small nursery called Seeds of Peace. Oron and Mansour grow the bulbs described in Oron's book BUT they do not sell them. They only harvest the seeds and sell those – if they have more than they can handle for their own needs.

Review by Trevor Nottle - South Australia Mediterranean Garden Society

Bulbs of the Eastern Mediterranean was listed by The Guardian newspaper as among the best gardening and plant books of 2015.