Welcome rain!

The weight of the water is bringing down all sorts of flowers – in this case Gloriosa superba

It is raining! 40 ml in the latest report from Mark on Saturday afternoon and it looks as though there is plenty more to come. The advent of rain is not usually something we get excited about, on account of it being so regular. We have, as I often say, a climate here with high rainfall and high sunshine hours. We would generally expect somewhere just over 100mm or 10 cm in January. I think we only had one passing rain event this January and it didn’t do anything more than temporarily dampen the dust.

We never have to worry about watering the garden, except Mark’s vegetable garden. We don’t have an irrigation system and about 90% of the garden can’t be reached with a garden hose. It is not usually an issue and it would be ludicrous to garden on the scale we do with an irrigation system. Where necessary, we can cart the occasional bucket of water but that is only for particularly stressed plants. I am sure come Monday, if it is still raining, we will be wanting it to stop but right now, it is a welcome relief.

Who orders plants in mid-summer? Why me, of course but I am saved by the rain.

It is just as well the garden is getting a comprehensive drink because a small order of plants arrived on Thursday and I was wondering how long I would need to wait before it would be safe to plant them. In our day, mailorder plants were the mainstay of our business and we sent off thousands of orders over the years.  I only mention this because I was so impressed by the brilliant packing and condition these sturdy plants were in when I received them (from Seaflowers Nursery, for those who are wondering). I wouldn’t normally order plants for delivery in high summer but I had a discussion with Kate from Seaflowers about whether the first flowering on our Ratibida pinnata was in fact a Ratibida or whether it may be Rudbeckia laciniata so I ordered both to compare. I am now confident it is Ratibida but also pleased to have the other for the garden.

Ratibida pinnata. The flowers have since opened more to show the coned centre that is also seen in echinaceas and some rudbeckias but it was a bit wet for me to get another photo

I had photographed a fine white echinacea a couple of weeks ago when I visited the flower graves at the Te Henui cemetery and thought I could use them. When I saw it – or something very similar –  on the online list, I added 3 of it but I am now thinking that maybe I should have ordered 15. Mark keeps reminding me we are not getting younger and maybe we could be extravagant in taking short cuts to get the effects we want now.

The white echinaceas in the cemetery which saw me ordering Echinacea purpurea ‘Happy Star’ which may or may not be the same but is certainly similar
This shiny cup is Mark’s for the year, even if he never get to hold it

Mark has been awarded a cup! A very shiny cup, although this photo may be the closest he ever gets to it. In these trying times of pandemic, travelling to the UK to receive it in person is right out of the question. It is from the UK’s prestigious Royal Horticultural Society and it is the Jim Gardiner Magnolia Cup, awarded annually to recognise the international contribution of the recipient to the genus Magnolia. I think Mark may just be the fourth recipient so far and the company is very select. While it is a niche speciality, he feels genuinely honoured and it made our week. The citation references his “development of high-quality hybrids, now regarded as garden classics and the introduction of the Fairy series. Gardens across the world are richer thanks to your dedication, discernment and creativity”.  That handsome accolade is one we get to keep as personal, even if the cup remains back in its UK home.

Not at all in the same league, I have my first garden column in the new, glossy Woman’ magazine coming out. It has just gone to print so presumably it is the March issue. I am not a great magazine reader, unless I am waiting for the dentist, but I rushed out to buy a copy of this one to get a feel for it and promptly felt nervous. It has a fine line-up of women writers as contributors, including a younger generation whom I hold in very high regard. We will see how things progress in that quarter.

The somewhat unregarded belladonna

Disconcertingly, the first belladonnas are open. It is like the clarion call of autumn when the bulbs start blooming. You will find me over in a corner of the garden crying, “No! No! It is only the start of February! We are not ready to be confronted with the earliest harbingers of autumn quite yet. Wait til the end of March, please.” But the plants care not one whit for our wishes. They will follow their seasonal triggers.

25 thoughts on “Welcome rain!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I don’t know, Tony. We have only seen a photo of the front but it doesn’t look like a cup designed to be engraved with the names of the recipients down the years.

  1. Lisa P

    Congratulations to Mark and the lady by his side! The butterflies are sure to love your black eyed Susan’s and cone flowers 🦋🌻. My Gloriosas are all on frames, thankfully it hasn’t been very windy yet. What kind of water supply do you have? A bore or town water?

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      We are on bore water and it used to stand up to irrigating the nursery so it is not stretched at all coping with just domestic usage. In principle, I disagree with planting gardens that require routine irrigation – wrong plants, wrong garden concept.

      1. Lisa P

        Yes I agree, I have been incorporating more drought tolerant plants in my garden, but even they have their limits. Even my agapanthi were wilting and my late 90s water saving aloe and succulent garden turning red and drying! My clay soil arid with deep cracks like a desert basin! My cape tecoma hedges yellowing! I of course wilted at the sight of my water bill – $210 for the month! ☠ 🥀 Sadly I have had to put some targeted irrigation in just last week to try and save more water by keeping the soil more moist than using the hose and having the water just run off. The price of hoses and irrigation accessories is equally as shocking these days. We’ll see if it works out.

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        We don’t live in drought conditions so I am not sure how I would cope with that. But I understand Beth Chatto’s dry garden in the UK, planted on old river bed so very little water retention, only gets extremely limited rainfall in that part of the country. But neither does it ever get fierce heat. It was a revelation to us on gardening to the conditions.

  2. Thistles and Kiwis

    It started raining here in Wellington on Friday evening and it is still raining this morning, Sunday. I think we have had enough for now! Congratulations on that trophy and I’ll need to look out for that magazine.

  3. katesnewgarden.wordpress.com

    Congratulations Mark on the Jim Gardiner cup award. Well deserved. Your hybrids give us all so much pleasure.

  4. Clancy

    Congratulations to Mark on his award, as I write this from Upper Hutt I am looking at a row of 5 of the Fairy series, they give me so much pleasure in the middle of June when they flower to coincide with our Aussie based daughters birthday, though they are a treasure year round. Thank you and well done!

  5. Tim Dutton

    A very well-deserved award for Mark and exciting for you to get back into print again. As for the rain: it has been raining here non-stop for over 41 hours now and so far we’ve had 106 mm since it started, which is more than our February monthly average. Luckily it has mostly been at a steady rate, with only a brief couple of hours when it was heavy, so the streams are coping just fine and it is nice to hear the sound of running water again in the garden. The plants look a lot happier, as some parts of the garden were getting parched after 5 weeks with virtually no rain. We’d had to start selective watering to keep a few of them alive until the rains came, mainly those that had been planted recently and haven’t yet developed decent root systems.
    You should enjoy the Rudbeckia laciniata: ours has around 50 flowers on it at the moment and it is only in its second growing season! I like the way the petals droop, the colour and the height. We haven’t grown the Ratibida.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Mark tells me we are into 150mm here now, but like you, we are pleased it has been calling steadily, not torrentially. So most of it has been absorbed. But the rain can stop now!

  6. Lorraine

    Good to see you getting back into magazine writing my dear and oh my at the Woman’s Weekly!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Breeding lab? Oh Fernando, it is all very low tech here. No laboratory – all done in the field, tagged, harvested, cleaned and sown. Then the seedlings are potted on and grown for a couple of years in nursery conditions to get enough size on them so they can be planted out in the field to grow and be assessed in open conditions.

  7. Paddy Tobin

    Well done to Mark, a well deserved recognition of his work. And, best wishes with the magazine column.

  8. Lorraine Ellen Blaney

    Ha ha re your Gloriosa Lily. I was just up at the Sunshine Coast Qld today walking along the beach, and Gloriosa superba is such a dreadful weed. Acres of it festoon the frontal sand dunes. Spreads by that tuber and its copious seeds.

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