Tikorangi Notes: Friday 22 June, 2012

Latest posts: June 22, 2012
1) The garden identity crisis (or why you need to do quite big things around about year 15). My column from the Waikato Times this morning.
2) The sugar candy pink of Luculia gratissima Early Dawn on a winter’s day. Not my favourite luculia, perhaps. Plant Collector from the Waikato Times this morning.
3) The strawberry bed should be planted this weekend. Time is running out. From the Waikato Times this morning.
4) Much of what you may want to know about the early flowering camellias (plus more). From the latest edition of Weekend Gardener.
5) In the garden this fortnight. On actually getting around to digging and dividing instead of merely advising others to do it and getting rid of excess mondo grass – my garden diary from Weekend Gardener.
6) For absolute beginners – how to plant a tree. Outdoor Classroom has a second coming with our step by step guides.
7) Latest cookbook reviews – and why it may be better to keep local. In fact our NZ cookbooks are particularly good so it is a mystery to me as to why a NZ publishing house would want to import and release this utility series from Kyle Books in the UK.

A reasonably remarkable mid winter sight - the original R. macgregoriae aged 55 years!

A reasonably remarkable mid winter sight – the original R. macgregoriae aged 55 years!

A week of typical winter weather – random rain, torrential at times with thunder storms and just enough sun to remind us that our weather isn’t too bad, temperatures swinging from cold (like 10 degrees during the day) to a balmy 16 or 17. A typical mid winter’s week, really. I have at least started my major renovation of the rose garden. It is fun and not all gardening is fun. Wait for more – it is all part of learning to garden with perennials and finding a level we are happy with in terms of a modern look without resorting to mass planting and utilitiarian ground cover.

The snowdrops are opening here and that is a simple delight. But the flowering star this week is the vireya rhododendron, R. macgregoriae. This is the original plant that Felix Jury collected in what was just New Guinea in 1957. It is a particularly good form and gave the basis of a breeding programme here. But the astonishing thing, for anyone who knows vireyas, is that it is still thriving after 55 years. This is not a plant genus that is known for its longevity.