In praise of lazy gardening

I meant to prune my Spiraea cantoniensis Flora Plena, honest I did … but I didn’t and this year is the most magnificent it has yet looked. Arching branches covered in white blossom, it has been a real picture in a part of the garden that can be a bit drab in the late winter, early spring.


Spiraea cantoniensis Flora Plena. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Do you leave things undone and then find nature praises you for it?

Clivia display

I had hoped to bring you a story and photos about the Tauranga area clivia display – but technology had other ideas! My computer was in the shop for 2 days this week having its hard drive transferred but, as so often happens, not everything did transfer, some of the updates are causing me to scratch my head, and my email contacts book has been thinned out.

On the positive side, the new hard drive is So. Much. Faster. and I daresay I will figure everything else out sooner or later. I uploaded some pictures to Photobucket earlier today but it didn’t work quite in tandem with my PC causing the process to be rather awkward and time-consuming.

So I thought I would simply point you at the display details and endorse the show as worth attending.

Tauranga Clivia Display, Sunday, September 27, 1-4pm, 139 Te Puna Rd (Plantstruck nursery), free. There is plenty of carparking inside the site, and there will be a large display of clivias, many of them bred by the people showing them, plants for sale and advice to be had.

Don’t forget to check the Events page for garden-related goings-on that are local, national and international. Right at the bottom of the page is a list for 2016 conferences and shows, plus a few for 2017. Nothing like planning ahead!

Fingers crossed that normal service will be resumed shortly…

Orchid show champions

Apologies for not having posted these sooner – last weekend two computers went phut, and then needed to catch up on actual paid work. Never mind, here we are with the winners from last weekend’s Tauranga Orchid Show. Cattleya intermedia is an orchid that’s native to Brazil and is an interesting one because it comes in a variety of colours with the flowers slightly differently shaped. Read more about it here.

Champion: Cattleya intermedia variety orlata ‘Rio’, grown by Maurice Bycroft of Matamata. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Reserve champion: Zygoneria Kings Park grown by Brian Enticott of Tauranga. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Zygoneria orchids are a hybrid between two allied families – Zygopetalum and Neogardineria. The cross produces a green flower on a more compact plant with better colour combinations than Zygopetalums, and more fragrance. As you can see it is a free flowering cross too, always a bonus. The Zygoneria Kings Park line is smaller again than the original cross.

There was plenty on show to catch the eye, including these beauties …

Paphiopedilum hainanense x wardii. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Dendrobium Nora Tokunaga was bred by well-known Hawaiian orchid grower Roy Tokunaga. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This Dendrobium is made from plants native to New Guinea (Latouria dendrobiums) and you can read more about a particular group of those orchids, including a mention of the one above, here. Den. Nora Tokunaga needs heat to do well.

Lee and Roy Neale of Leroy Orchids had this beauty on their stand – Epicattleya Gerardus Staal ‘Muzza’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This little sweetie is Cymbidium Magic Devon ‘Maisie’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Ringmaster Barry back in action

Barry Curtis could be called the voice of the Tauranga Orchid Show, thanks to the popular repotting demonstrations he has been running for several years – and he will be back again at this year’s show from Friday to Sunday at Tauranga Racecourse.

“I saw it as something I could do,” says Barry, who has been president of the Tauranga Orchid Society for about 10 years. “Having been a school principal, I am confident speaking to groups.”

After retiring from teaching in Auckland, Barry and wife Elizabeth moved to Tauranga to run a motel and also grew callas commercially in Pyes Pa. The couple shifted to just south of Katikati about 11 years ago.


Barry Curtis with some of his beloved cymbidiums. Photo: Sandra Simpson

“My Dad grew a few cymbidiums in his tomato house and, when he was no longer able to care for them, I took them on,” Barry says. “I’ve always liked taking a plant and seeing what will come out of it – it doesn’t have to be the biggest or the best to interest me.”

Most hobby orchid growers start with cymbidiums and move on to more exotic plants but Barry has hundreds of the easy-to-grow beauties in his collection.

“The great thing about cymbidiums is that you don’t need an orchid house – they’re happy in the garden, particularly under trees. I keep mine in pots and growing bags so when they flower I can move them to the front door and enjoy them for months.”


Cymbidiums love the outdoor conditions at Te Puna Quarry Park. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Barry, who is also a volunteer in the orchid garden at Te Puna Quarry Park, says that when it comes to growing orchids outside the only no-no is full (burning) sun. Filtered light is perfect.

“Pot them in bark, not soil, and put them in a pot that is only just big enough for the roots, otherwise it takes too long for the plant to feel happy. Orchids need repotting when the bark starts to break down because the soil-like crumbs suffocate the roots – in the wild, the vast majority of orchids don’t grow in soil so need air round their roots.”

In his talks, Barry also shares easy-to-understand information on how a cymbidium grows, including what the pseudo-bulbs do (food storage) and how to split a mature plant.

He says people often worry about which fertiliser to use but “you can use any house plant fertiliser if it is mixed below half the strength it says on the container”. Otherwise, his recommendation is to throw on a handful of slow-release fertiliser twice a year. Barry makes up a special slow-release mix for orchids that is available at the show for a reasonable price.


Whakatane grower Andy Price specialises in unusually coloured cymbidiums. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read my story about orchid shows from this month’s New Zealand gardener.

To find a New Zealand orchid show in an area near you, go here. September and October are prime months for shows. Orchid shows around the North Island are on the Events page on this website.