Counting down to Festival – 25 days to go

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Admiring the scale of the Monstera delicoosa climbing a massive rimu tree

We had a film crew in this week, complete with *actors*. The garden was just a venue – the filming is for a major community funding trust but it was more fun than I expected. I was impressed by the gusto shown by the willing participants, if somewhat amused to hear one admiring the ‘snowdrops’ as he walked past a pretty clump of white Dendrobium (orchid) ‘Bardo-Rose’.

In the sunken garden they whipped out their phones because, as they declared, that is what garden visitors do nowadays and how right they are. I don’t do Instagram because it is geared to mobile phones and we lack phone reception here so I continue to use a camera, not a phone. But here we have the videographer filming the visitor photographing the other visitors photographing the blue Moraea villosa.

I was riveted by the drone and hope we may get to see the drone footage at some stage. Now I know who to get in to do some drone footage next year when the magnolias are in full bloom – a time when I am guessing we would be looking our most dramatic and colourful from above.

What was particularly affirming was the wildly enthusiastic response to the new summer gardens where we finished the paths this week. I look at this area and I see gardens filled with plants that I hope will do a whole lot of growing before we open in a month. They looked at the whole and went ‘wow’. One of the crew declared that it reminded him of Hamilton Gardens. This was a compliment. I do not doubt that for a moment. I was just a bit taken aback because I had not thought we were emulating the themed gardens that are enormously popular public gardens in the city of Hamilton. We are a private, domestic garden. This has been achieved on a shoestring budget by three people, albeit with a lot of experience.

Trilliums in meadow conditions

Sometimes I feel as though I am living with a pixie. In this case, a pixie who has been out planting trilliums in the meadow. It is of course Mark who has both raised the plants and then planted them. Last year I spotted a couple. As I tidy up the park in preparation for opening, I must have come across about 20 of them this week.

We have trilliums in the garden. Growing them in long grass is an experiment but so far it is working and they are continuing to get a little larger each year, rather than fading away.

There is a lesson in this. If you want to experiment with choice plants in a meadow, it helps to raise them yourself. You wouldn’t want to be buying a score – or more – of them to experiment with.

Oh look! How very 2020. My 1950s washing line (a single wire held up with a bamboo prop) with washable facemasks hanging like bunting and two linen tea towels that were sold as a fundraiser in aid of the Australian bushfires last summer. It is not that we are wearing masks at this time, but that our scientist daughter has crafted masks for her parents in two styles with added, optional, washable filters. I was washing them before putting them safely to one side – prepared, just in case.

For overseas readers, NZ has reachieved its status of no community transmission, with any Covid cases caught in quarantine at the border – so most of the country is free from all restrictions on movement and crowd sizes again. We have our fingers crossed that we remain free from any Covid cases in the community for the garden festival at the end of the month and hopefully well beyond. If one is going to be confined to one’s home country with no overseas travel, New Zealand seems to be one of the best places to be at this difficult time. May you all stay safe, wherever in the world you are.

Finally a few photos of the season. I struggle to get good photographs of the swathes of bluebells here. We are just past peak bluebell and they are so pretty even if the Spanish bluebells and hybrids are inclined to be so enthusiastic that they border on being problematic in some areas.

I finally got down to tie in the wisteria to the high bridge. They are quite a bit reduced in size this year as a result of the work we undertook on the bridge but still very pretty. I use black twine because, of all the ties I have tried over the years, synthetic black twine lasts the longest and is the least distracting the eye.

Rhododendron Noyo Chief

We flower rhododendrons more or less from August to the end of November. This is Noyo Chief. It is an undeniably handsome red, even if big reds are not my personal favourite. It is certainly a good performer on a healthy bush and what more can one ask?

8 thoughts on “Counting down to Festival – 25 days to go

  1. tonytomeo

    While in school, I noticed how impressive the bloom of the common Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’ was from above. It lived in the atrium of a five story library on campus. It was pretty from below as well, but the flowers face upward, where a drone would get a better view of them.

  2. Elizabeth Hamilton

    Dear Abbie, I love your column. I don’t know how I lived without it for so long! Some years ago I had a deep love affair with rhododendrons but the only survivors were: Johnstoniana (sp?)a lovely creamy yellow, slightly fragrant, and at the other end of the garden a red with an unromantic name. There were many deaths. I can see that the best way to have fat, flourishing ‘Rhodos’ Is to move to Taranaki where the rain cometh more frequently and evenly…But it’s too late now!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Oh Elizabeth – how kind of you to say. Thank you. We have a splendid plant of R. johnstoneanum – a lovely cultivar. If it is any consolation, we have lost many and removed a whole lot that don’t thrive without spraying. It is the way with rhodos.

  3. Sue Kopetko

    Abbie, judging from your wisteria photo, your decision to paint the bridge black was excellent. A lovely photo.

  4. Tim Dutton

    The Court garden is looking fantastic, can’t wait to see it in real life. The bluebells look wonderful too, we planted some out with a little trepidation last year, but the area they are in shouldn’t mind their ability to spread…we hope. Lovely Rhododendron photo, we are very fond of big reds in the right spot. In our garden that usually means against a backdrop of towering dark green conifers. We have ‘Homestead’ in flower at the moment. Rhododendron season in our garden stretches from May (‘Christmas Cheer’) to January (‘Good News’), which is pretty much always a mass of red on Christmas Day.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I have never been a fan of Christmas Cheer which I dismiss as one of the most boring. But it is certainly early. The last to flower here used to be R. rhabdotum and Mark had a ritual of picking blooms every year for the Christmas table. But it died so that put paid to that.

  5. Susan Oliver

    love the colour of your paths in new grass garden area – looking forward to seeing it all in early November

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