Countdown to Festival: September 17, 2010

  • Southwards in Hawera at Puketarata, Jennifer Horner has been looking on the positive side and enjoying those spring days which have been lovely (as opposed to sodden). While the early daffodils and Magnolia Vulcan are looking a little weather beaten, (though Jen says Vulcan has been spectacular this year), Rhododendron Bibiani is in full flower and has escaped damage and the pretty Prunus Awanuis are just opening. The lawns have responded most gratifyingly to an application of potash and Jennifer is feeling that she is on top of the pruning, fertilizing and mulching but the vegetable garden is calling.
  • Also down in Hawera, one of Festival’s most experienced openers, Mary Dixon is dashing out in between the showers trying to get jobs done – weeding, moving plants, deadheading and getting rid of the winter moss buildup. She is still worried about the possibility of late frosts, so is cautious about rushing to fill the gaps left by earlier frost damage. However the delight of the early spring display of magnolias, flowering cherries, daffodils, violas and pansies, different hellebores and primulas more than compensates. Mary gardens for twelve months of the year but likes to have her garden peaking to perfection for Festival at the end of October.
  • Moving northwards, June Lees of Cairnhill Garden, Stratford has been waging war on liverwort, the bane of all our lives in our climate. She is hoping it will be invisible by the time Festival opens. June is also having fun with her new playhouse, as she calls her tunnel house. It may seem an extravagant home for her hanging baskets, but it has made life much easier for both June and said baskets. In the past she has had to house them in her glasshouse where she kept bumping into them so leading her to move them out too early to the patio. So at this stage, her new tunnel house gives room for a glorious line of hanging baskets and no doubt, over time, June will find a whole host of other uses for her tunnel house and she will wonder how she ever managed without it.
  • Joyce Young has been in Festival for a very long time indeed but more recently has moved to a small garden in town – a mere 480 square metres, she says. This is an interesting opportunity for Joyce to manage a sustainable gardening model from scratch. She has installed a rain water tank with gravity fed soak hoses to water her vegetable garden – the gentle soaking is far kinder and does not lead to as many mildew problems as overhead watering. Her worm farm has been in operation for a full two years and while her three bin compost system is a commercial structure, it is an efficient and simple option for a retired person for whom the manual labour of a more traditional compost system is a challenge. Joyce is well known for her pottery (particularly pukekos) but of late she has been really enjoying getting to grips with painting with pastels and has just moved on to flower subjects – magnolias, this week.
  • Also in New Plymouth, David Clarkson and Valda Poletti at Te Kainga Marire are despairing at the damage being wrought on the black mamaku (ponga) tree ferns, they say by the dreaded Indian mynah birds. Apparently they eat the unfurling leaf buds and the neighbours’ pongas have already succumbed to sustained attack. David and Valda are fighting off the mynahs to try and save their 30 year old pongas, moving Valda to express the wish that people would stop encouraging these pest birds by feeding them household scraps.
  • Here at Tikorangi, the mynah birds are a minor issue and the pongas are perhaps too plentiful but we could have done without the ginormous Lombardy poplar that crashed to the ground without warning in our park. At about 80 years old and 80 feet tall, it was perhaps fortunate that it fell inwards to our property and not outwards to the road. It is such a shame that poplar wood of no value either for firewood or timber but in its descent to ground level, it clipped the Magnolia campbellii which is now about half of its former size and magnolia is a good timber. Our rhododendron Loderi King George also bit the dust but considering the size of the tree, the damage was not too bad overall. Now that it is all cleaned up, we are looking at an unexpected new area to plant up.

1 thought on “Countdown to Festival: September 17, 2010

  1. Pingback: Tikorangi Notes: Friday 17 September 2010 « Tikorangi The Jury Garden

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