The Final Countdown to Festival for 2010, Friday November 5

Jazz in our garden last Friday

Jazz in our garden last Friday

At Te Popo, inland from Stratford, Flynn the Wonder Dog from 2009 (he who excelled at guiding visitors to the extent that he had his very own individual photo in the programme this year) had thrown in the towel by last Sunday. He is just so over it all this year. Apparently he looks down the drive and sees visitors arriving, sighs and goes back to bed. This is a terrible disappointment to his owners, Bruce and Lorri Ellis, but what can you do about a dog with a low boredom threshold?

Also near Stratford, June Lees at Cairnhill Garden knew that her cat Smudge was near delivery and tried to keep her shut away in peace and quiet but Smudge had her own ideas and insisted on company. June moved her bed to the back of their meet and greet area and on Sunday all went well and June and Colin, along with their garden visitors, were delighted at the safe arrival of four lovely kittens during the afternoon.

Still on an animal theme, in Manaia, Irene Taunt was very excited to receive a special feathered visitor. A kereru came to visit and watched her doing her morning clean-up round. In her twenty years of living there, Irene has never seen a native wood pigeon in her garden before and any native bush is many kilometres away. No doubt she is hoping it will find good reason to stick around. Guavas – we swear by guavas which kereru adore eating. They don’t mind if plants are native or not, as long as they are good to eat.

Southwards in Hawera, Jennifer Horner loved the fine weather last weekend and enjoyed the visitors from all round both islands and as far afield as Canada, but she was very pleased that it was the day before Festival that the bee swam passed by. The mind boggles at the potential for complete disaster of a bee swarm meeting a coach tour in a garden…..

A bee swarm, however, was a small concern compared to the potential disasters waiting for Maree Rowe at Havenview Vegetable Garden on Kent Road on the same day before Festival started. The Targa rally car driver who crashed into their barberry hedge was unharmed, as was Maree’s helpful dad who was rolling the driveway to compact the freshly dumped metal fines when his vehicle slipped off the edge, landed in the drain and Maree and her sister had to lean on the side of the ute to stop it rolling on to a particularly large boulder while her dad clambered out the passenger side door. These two minor incidents paled by Maree’s close shave as she was cleaning the stove in her little campground, to see flames and smoke as the califont which supplies the hot water caught fire. With flames coming out the sides, a locked door on the cupboard and no key on her, Maree had to do a superwoman number and pull the door open, only to realise that the gas was still turned on and the gas bottle was still attached in this little inferno. Hosting hundreds of garden visitors was probably a doddle after all that.

In Hawera, Mary Dixon (Mary’s Place) is wondering how one knows when it is time to give in and call it a day. She derives so much pleasure meeting interesting visitors from around the world and from the positive reinforcement they give her but, as with a number of senior gardeners, she worries about whether carrying on may mean that her gardening standards drop without her knowing it. It is perhaps a good reminder why it is important to revere our senior gardeners and to make sure that we visit them this year, rather than assuming they will be around indefinitely.

The final two jazz and wine evenings for this year both take place in New Plymouth – at Wintringham this evening and at Ratanui tomorrow evening. The charming and mellow music from Ross Halliday and Juliet McLean is a real highlight and should not be missed as it makes a wonderful combination with the ambience of gardens in the early evening. It is best to contact TAFT in advance for tickets on 06 759 8412. Garden workshops tomorrow do not need prebooking – catch plantsman Vance Hooper at Magnolia Grove on landscaping with cacti and succulents at 1.00pm or Mark and yours truly here at Tikorangi at 10.00am on using plants as focal points and accents in the garden.