Sad news

News has come through this morning (December 1) that natural beekeeper Marcia Meehan of Hamilton has passed away suddenly.

Update: A service for Marcia will be held on Monday, December 3 at noon at Hamilton Park Crematorium, 395 Morrinsville Road, Newstead, Waikato.


Marcia Meehan, urban beekeeper

Marcia, who has taken workshops all over the country, was so encouraged by the turnout at her recent talk about natural beekeeping at the Garden and Artfest that she decided to hold a workshop in Tauranga – that was to have been held tomorrow.

The hosts, Helen and Mike Crosby, don’t have a list of those who were to attend, and neither does Marcia’s daughter. Her daughter has been able to contact a few people who have left messages on Marcia’s cellphone, but knows she hasn’t been in touch with everyone.

Because people may be turning up anyway, Mike and Helen have arranged for Dennis Crowley, president of the local beekeepers’ association, to talk about top-bar hives and bee-keeping, from 9.30am for the morning, 98 Kulim Ave, Tauranga. It will be a drop-in sort of event and there are top-bar hives to see. Mike says that since he’s had his own bees his fruit trees have doubled their production.

To read more about natural beekeeping, visit Marcia’s website.

Our thoughts are with Marcia’s family. She will be a great loss to a great many people.


Gardening World Cup

No sooner do I mention the Gardening World Cup (in a Sunday Digest) than Auckland landscape designer Xanthe White goes and wins the Best Design award at this year’s event in Japan which had the theme Gardens for World Peace.

Read all about it, and see some pictures, here or at the official website. Xanthe has used plants from Aotearoa and included a green wall.

Other results: Best In Show – Lim in Chong (Malaysia); Peace and Flowers Award – James Basson (France); Gold Medal – Lim in Chong, James Basson, Xanthe White, Kazuyuki Ishihara (Japan), Hiroshi Terashita (Japan); Silver Medal – Jo Thompson (France), Gabino Carballo (Spain), Karen Stefonick (USA), David Davidson and Leon Kluge (South Africa); Bronze Medal – Richard Miers (England), Jihae Hwang (South Korea), Haruko Seki (Japan).



What’s Flowering

Some photos of what’s “on” in my garden right now.

A gerbera from the Everlast range – the tag promised it would flower for almost 12 months of the year and so it has! Fingers crossed it is setting a new plant or two … and it has lovely, glossy leaves.

The Iceland poppy is a cottage garden favourite and it’s not hard to see why – they’re gorgeous. I tried other kinds of poppies last year but they didn’t do well in the wet summer. Iceland poppies are native to northern subpolar regions.








Anyone care to hazard a guess as to what sort of flower this is? Leave a reply and I’ll put the answer in the next post …







Gibbs Farm

I was lucky enough to be invited on a group visit last Friday to Gibbs Farm, a 400ha private sculpture park on the Kaipara Harbour north of Auckland. Alan Gibbs generously opens his property to the public a few times each year and despite staff being anxious at facing a record crowd, it all seemed to go pretty smoothly.

I may write some more about it, although it’s not a garden in the true sense but a honking great landscape that is beautifully kept. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures to be going on with.

Horizons by Neil Dawson, supposedly a sheet of corrugated iron that’s blown in from elsewhere, changes slightly depending on where you are. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Farm staff have created their own work of art with the cairn-like woodpile. To the left is the stunning Dismemberment, Site 1 by Anish Kapoor. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Coming up Roses

A couple of years ago the members of the Bay of Plenty Rose Society decided that they could no longer host a judged show – the number of members was falling while their age  was rising.

Instead, they now have a two-day display at Palmers in Bethlehem and include all sorts of roses, not just those that would find favour on a show bench.

This year, for instance, there are David Austin blooms alongside old roses and in among modern hybrids, including some by Rob Somerfield of Te Puna, a breeder that Sam McGredy calls “the pride of New Zealand”. There are flowers of floribundas, climbers, shrub roses and bush roses. There is also an entire table given over to miniature blooms.

The display is on until close of business tomorrow. Palmers provides an order sheet so fancied roses not in stock can be obtained, and rose society members are on hand to talk about caring for the plants.

A visitor admires the display

National Rose Show 2012

Laurie Jeyes of the Bay of Plenty Rose Society went to the national rose show in Levin last weekend and has kindly reported back with the results.

Champion of Champions: White Romance, bred by Rob Somerfield of Te Puna and shown by D & H White of Northland.
Champion Large Stem: White Romance.
Champion Exhibition Bloom: Signature (released in 1998).
Champion Decorative Bloom: Grandpa Dickson (an old favourite this, released in 1966), also known as Irish Gold in other parts of the world.
Champion Small Stem: Millennium, bred by Doug Grant of Auckland.
Champion Display Vase: Joan Monica, bred by Brian Attfield of Cambridge (Brian passed away in July, 2012).

Monarchs of the Air

Realising my meagre collection of swan plants wouldn’t hold out much longer, I carefully picked the 15 or so caterpillars off yesterday morning, put them in a plastic container (with airholes) with a few leaves and took them to Mary Parkinson at Te Puna Quarry Park. “The butterfly lady” is accepting donations and took me into the park’s new butterfly house, about three times as big as the previous one and divided into two rooms.

Roy Oakley, a retired builder and new quarry park volunteer, whipped up the house in about two weeks. It has glass panels so visitors can see in and lots of openings covered in plastic mesh so there’s plenty of air movement.

Some tips from Mary:

  • Pumpkin as a supplementary food is suitable only for caterpillars ready to become a chrysalis. If it’s fed to younger ones they will end up with deformed wings at the butterfly stage.
  • To keep butterflies from laying more eggs on a devoured swan plant, cover it with a net curtain, or similar.
  • When transporting caterpillars put some food in with them … otherwise they will end up eating each other!

Once the butterflies have hatched make sure to have nectar-rich flowers for them to feed on – anything brightly coloured is Mary’s recommendation, including single, orange dahlias, hebes, echium and cottage garden flowers such as coreopsis, dianthus, aquilegia and cornflowers.