When Nigel Hewitt-Cooper told me he was finally going to write a book about carnivorous plants I rejoiced. Finally a book would be written on the subject in a plain enough language that both the expert and the novice would understand. The book did not let down my expectations.
I think the thing that impressed me most was that it wasn’t written by an American! Forgive me please all of you wonderful people in the USA but the British climate conditions, range of products and plant availability is different to yours so whilst a lot of what you write is great often the specifics just dont fit and it can be a struggle to find alternatives for products etc.
The book has good categories on growing carnivores outside, individual sections on the specific needs of the different plant groups (after all there are over 500 different species of plant with meat eating tendencies and with at least 6 different methods of capturing prey) and excellent guidelines about propagation.
I was also very pleased to see a book that taught me something brand spanking new on many of its pages – such as that the cultivation requirements of the Mexican species of Pinguicula are very little like those of the temperate species.
Some aspects of the book did however disappoint me greatly. A very limited section on growing these plants peat free was a worry. Many, many people have now had a great deal of success with growing carnivores without the need for peat so for such a great book to be published that still used peat as a base for most of the compost mixes only goes to continue the belief that you have to use peat for them. The section that does discuss peat free growing only really looks at the use of coir, a contentious product in its own right, as an alternative. I feel this section could have been expanded somewhat to give a much more balanced approach to potting mixes for carnivores.
Another let down was the almost complete lack of discussion surrounding the conservation of the world’s carnivorous plants. Hewitt-Cooper touches on the subject when introducing Venus flytraps but many other carnivorous plants are severely threatened in their wild state from both habitat loss and over collection. Recently some newly described south east Asian species of Nepenthes have disappeared almost overnight as the need of collectors for these new and interesting plants drives a rich market. Surely responsible sourcing of plants and conservation issues warranted a section in such a book?
My personal conservationist gripes aside though; An altogether excellent and appealing book by a man that I admire greatly. Nigel’s depth of knowledge and experience shows through in the vibrant pages of this book and is sure to inspire new carnivorous plant hobbyists and experienced growers alike.
Get your own copy here