Countdown to Festival: August 13, 2010

  • Quinton Reeves from Wintringham in New Plymouth describes his lawn as currently looking like army jungle camouflage if viewed from above. This is because he took advice from an expert and used Cold Water Surf sprinkled in powder form to kill out the unwanted mosses. It has apparently worked a treat and he is now waiting for the grasses to come away with renewed vigour. We have never heard of this simple remedy before but plan to experiment with moss in other areas. The trick, Quinton says, is to apply it after a rainy period (no problem there) and the lawn has had a day to dry out and it must be Cold Water Surf which is alleged to have an ingredient which is missing from other brands. So now you know.
  • Also in town, La Rosaleda’s Coleen Peri was shocked to find her renga renga lilies (arthropodium) sporting their own form of acne (orange blotches due to rust), giving lie to the belief that these tough plants are maintenance free and indestructible, bar heavy frosts. Coleen treated the rust but also chopped the plants back hard and disposed of the affected foliage. This may stop the cycle of rust continuing and the plants will have recovered with fresh foliage by festival time. Coleen’s little fellow, Will, discovered to his cost that hurtling down a garden path between rose bushes on his scooter was fraught with danger when he canned out and landed in a rose, embedding a thorn in his cheek. The rose bush fared worse, being snapped off entirely, but Will has made a good recovery.
  • Jan and Graeme Worthington of Gordon Dale Gardens are fresh back from their tour of Britain and Ireland. They were enormously impressed by Beth Chatto’s garden near Colchester (her garden is a magnificent example of how to manage large scale herbaceous plantings over time and her dry garden is magic) but equally impressed by the sight of Mrs Chatto herself, now at a very advanced age, climbing up a red brick wall to water some plants. They will hardly be emulating her dry garden at Toko, but Jan says her first task on return is to prune her 200 roses and to try and salvage the sweet pea babies which have been swamped by weeds in their absence.
  • In Manaia, Jenny Oakley has taken advantage of the presence of a couple of strong and willing young men to spread the contents of four large compost bins across her vegetable and perennial beds. In the process they also uncovered two pairs of secateurs and one Niwashi hand hoe, despite Jenny’s best efforts to keep garden tools to hand and to mark them with ribbon and insulation tape. Any synthetic, fluorescent type of colour is going to stand out best in an outdoor setting because these are not the colours of nature. Jenny, by the way, votes her Niwashi as her most favourite garden tool.
  • In Kakaramea at Te Rata, Jacq Dwyer is delighting in the fragrance of her Daphne bholua. This is the upright Himalayan daphne. It can get a bit scruffy with age and does have a few bad personal habits but we are in complete agreement with Jacq that its perfume is the best and the strongest of any of the daphnes. While on scented plants, Jacq says she has just bought a wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) and is looking for the best position in the garden where its scent can be enjoyed. As she has already moved her davidia (ghost tree) twice in search of its permanent home, the chimonanthus may be in for a period of slight instability in its life. There are gardeners who only buy plants for specific garden positions or gaps and there are gardeners, like Jacq, who buy plants because they love them and who then set about finding the right spot.
  • At Paradiso Vegetable Garden, Denise Wood is delighting in the simple sight of her lemon tree underplanted with white primulas and looking very fetching. Her broad beans have been a success at previous festivals so she is pleased to see them growing well and already a metre tall. The sweet peas are also coming along well. By the time she has done her round freshening up the paintwork this month, she feels that she will have done most of her preparations.