Flowering now

Here in Tauranga the days are getting warmer (and the weather a tiny bit more settled), the birds are getting cheepier and flowers are flowering all over the place – it must be spring!

Two iris gardens in the Tauranga area are opening for the coming holiday weekend – Meadowland Iris in Meadowland St, Matua in Tauranga and the Amazing Iris Garden, off the main highway south of Katikati. Both have stock bed gardens and plants for sale. Go to the Events page for details.

My patch of Sixteen C bearded irises (bought from Wendy at the Amazing Iris Garden two years ago) are looking great right now.

Sixteen C, a prosaic name for a beautiful bearded iris. Photo: Sandra Simpson

My pride of Madeira echium is covered in flowers and don’t the honeybees and bumblebees love it? My plant has a biennial clock so this will be its last year of flowering, but there’s already one seedling coming away underneath it. The poor thing has been a bit mystified by our, mostly, mild winter and has had a few flowers on it right through the past year.

The plant I have is a descendant of one from childhood home, a link that’s dear to me. When I was a kid I called these plants “bee flowers” so noticeable an attractant were they.

A honeybee enjoys a pride of Madeira flower. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The small wildflower patch outside my kitchen door is looking lovely, although someone forgot to tell Nature that orange (California poppy) and red (other poppies) don’t go together – she’s flung them side by side and, guess what, it all works!

Every spring garden should feature silken-petalled poppies. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The display table at the Tauranga Orchid Society meeting this week was groaning as members showed off their plants in bloom. There are orchids for every season but spring is a blooming marvellous time.

Coelogyne cristata alba, perfectly white. Photo: Sandra Simpson

When I bought this Coelogyne cristata (say something like so-lodge-knee) at the Te Puke auction last year, I hoped it would be the form that has a splash of yellow down its throat, but it turned out to be “alba” or pure white. However, at the meeting this week there was a small “lemoniana” on the sales table. Yes. These orchids are best grown in baskets so the hanging cascades of flowers can be seen to the best advantage.

Another family of orchids flowering now are Sarcochilus, many of then native to Australia and which come is a surprisingly wide colour range (including a definite brown), and although you’ll see plenty of white ones look more closely because many of them have different-coloured “eyes”.

Sarcochilus Cherie x Starstruck. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The plant pictured above has 11 flower spikes, each with multiple flowers per stem, which is the best it has yet done for me. Each flower is about the size of the ball of my thumb, and some types have smaller flowers than that.

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