Visiting Gardens Down South


I love visiting other gardens. You get so many ideas and, as in this case, see a completely different range of plants from those you can grow in your own garden. I set off with friends to visit the Taranaki and Kimbolton area in mid- October. It was just before the Taranaki Garden Festival and just after very cold weather had swept up the country dumping snow in many places which would normally not expect to receive snow, especially so late in the season. Despite this we saw good displays of rhododendrons at Pukeiti and Hollards.


We then moved onto Cross Hills and Heritage Park in Kimbolton, both with diverse planting but mainly specialising in rhodos.

Heritage Park

There were many tree peonies out in flower.

On the way we visited Clive and Nicki Higgie’s Paloma Gardens at Fordell, with its huge diversity of plants.


Here is an orchid, Dendrobium speciosum, at Paloma.

Cross Hills

Garden at Cross Hills

Has Spring Sprung?

When does spring begin? It is very hard to tell in Northland where the seasonal changes are not abrupt. Is it when the first daffodils open? Definitely not because some have been out for weeks. Perhaps it is when the hydrangeas start into life again after pruning but that’s not precise. The subtropicals don’t give a good guide—many look their very worst at this time of year. Some have a brief deciduous period after holding onto their increasingly tatty looking foliage all winter. Time to prune the hibiscus. I think I’ll give the honour of the Herald of Spring to the Pleione. A few flowers opened on the 1st September. I suppose that’s at least three weeks before the meteorologists say Spring begins on the solstice –21st September