Wendy Begbie’s iris nursery, which features extensive stock beds of over 1000 varieties, is, she says, a hobby “that got out of control”.
Wendy has been growing irises for 13 years, the last five at Walford Rd, south of Katikati, and although tall bearded irises are her “mainstay”, the Amazing Iris Garden has expanded to include Siberian, Louisiana and Japanese types.
“It’s the multitude of colours that attracted me to them,” Wendy says of the bearded iris. “You buy one and you keep going – you can’t help yourself.”
Wendy, who is a fulltime sales rep and product manager covering Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay, employs three part-time staff and opens the garden during flowering each year.
“It’s actually harder leading up to opening because I like to make sure the garden is as pristine as possible – each visitor has the potential to bring in more customers.”
She produces an annual mail-order catalogue, which includes information about care of bearded iris and says the biggest problem in this area is the humidity and high rainfall.
“The rhizomes will rot if they stay wet so plant them above the soil a little bit so they can bake in the sun. They don’t care about the soil type so long as they have good drainage and some air movement around them.”
Wendy is a member of the Bay of Plenty Iris Group which is staging its annual show on Saturday, November 2 at the Legion of Frontiersmen Hall in Elizabeth St West, Tauranga. Admission $2.The show will also include Pacific Coast irises.