Pacific Rosebowl Festival 2019

Today I was pleased to join the invited judges in the Rogers Rose Garden for the final day of voting in the Pacific Rosebowl Festival, the 18th held since the festival moved from Auckland to Hamilton.

At the awards presentation festival trustee and MC Pippa Mahood paid tribute to Hamilton Gardens’ director Peter Sergel, her fellow festival trustees, head gardener Alice Gwilliam (the rose gardens were a credit to her and her team), the NZ Rose Society (which was holding its national show in the next-door hall), festival co-ordinator Emma Reynolds and her understudy Maddy Reed.

And, of course, she got us a bit misty-eyed with mention of the late, great rose breeder Sam McGredy, who passed away just a few months ago and helped initiate the Rosebowl Festival in Auckland then assisted the move to Hamilton, always attending the annual awards. “The Auckland Botanic Gardens said having the festival move was the best thing that ever happened to their garden, and the sentiment was the same for us,” Peter Sergel said. “Sam’s mana and presence were an immeasurable part of its success here.”

The McGredy family was represented by Sam’s three daughters – Katherine, Maria and Clodagh – and several ‘grandies’, with news shared of Sam’s newest great-granddaughter, Molly, just a few days old.

Everlasting Hope. Photo: Sandra Simpson

New Zealand Rose of the Year, Best NZ-raised Rose & Best Shrub Rose: Everlasting Hope, bred by Rob Somerfield (Te Puna, near Tauranga) and named for the Canterbury branch of the Post-natal Depression Trust. It was released last year. Click here to visit Rob’s website.

Diamond Design. Photo: Rob Somerfield Roses

Best Hybrid Tea Rose: Diamond Design, bred by Rob Somerfield. Released in 2012.

Skyla Rose. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Best Floribunda Rose & Most Fragrant Rose: Skyla Rose bred by Rob Somerfield. Released this year, the rose was named for 7-year-old Skyla Rose Keating who died of a rare form of brain cancer in 2017.

Woollerton Old Hall. Photo: David Austin Roses.

Best Climbing Rose: Woollerton Old Hall, bred by David Austin and released in Britain in 2011. It’s named for a magnificent garden in the UK, developed by its owners and open to the public.

Midsummer. Photo: Rosen Tantau.

Children’s Choice Award: Midsummer, bred by Tantau (Germany) and released in 2008.

The Somerfield family were out in force to celebrate Rob’s successes at the Pacific Rosebowl Festival, from left, Rob’s wife Linda, his mum Valerie, dad Richard, Rob, and his daughters Amanda and Kate. Kneeling in front is Kate’s partner David Wright. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Out & About

Apologies for the lack of regular posts recently but this year’s Tauranga Arts Festival absorbed a lot of my energy and intelligence – so much so that last week (the week after the festival finished) I found myself doing some odd things as my brain decided to have some R&R!

So it’s been nice to visit a couple of lovely Tauranga area gardens in the last fortnight and meet some new (to me) plants.

Lewisia cotyledon is a succulent native to southern Oregon and northern California. Photo: Sandra Simpson

First up is the very pretty succulent Lewisia cotyledon (also known as Siskiyou Lewisia) which grows in rocky, subalpine habitat in its native setting. Don’t feed it too much and give it a free-draining situation, particularly for winter, and it will do well in most situations. And because of where it’s found in the wild, it’s a good plant for rockeries or stone walls – see some lovely photos on the website of Ashwood Nurseries in the UK.

A member of the so-called bitterroot family, Lewisia cotyledon was among the 178 plant species collected by Meriwether Lewis in the early 19th century as he explored the western United States with his partner William Clark and a group of army volunteers. The bitterroot name came from the fact that although the root of L. rediviva is edible, it’s very bitter until it’s been cooked thoroughly. The plant gave its name to Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains, Bitterroot River, and Bitterroot Valley – and is the official state flower.

Throughout the more than 4,000-mile (6437km) journey, Lewis recorded, pressed and preserved some 240 different plant species and took them back to Washington DC, along with hundreds of animal and bird skins and skeletons. Read more about Lewis and his botany, and/or watch an interview here.

In New Zealand, Egmont Seeds stock Lewisia Elise, part of the same family.

Parochetus communis is also known as blue oxalis or shamrock pea. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This gardener has some very unusual oxalis plants (all potted) so although this isn’t strictly speaking an oxalis (it’s a creeper), its leaf form means it fits well with the collection. Parochetus communis is native to the mountains of Asia and tropical Africa and although this gardener has it in a pot, the plant has been naturalised in New Zealand since 1944.

In the second garden I was pointed in the direction of Podophyllum ‘Kaleidoscope’, a rare and unusual large-leafed plant with a secret underneath – crimson-black flowers!

Growing this plant in shade enriches its leaf markings. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Podophyllum is a deciduous woodland plant that prefers moist, free-draining soils rich in organic material (this gardener has it in a pot). Protect from frosts. There is one species from eastern North America and five from Asia.

The dramatic flowers hang underneath the equally dramatic leaves. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read a great blog entry about Padophyllums by Dan Heims, president and guiding spirit behind Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc, writing for the Pacific Horticulture Society (US).

Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Awards

The RNZIH has been kind enough to send a copy of its mid-year journal containing the 2019 awards.

Garden History Award: Annemarie Endt-Ferwerda, who has published at least seven booklets and books on horticultural topics. She and her late husband, Dick Endt, established the Landsendt garden in west Auckland, today run by their daughter. Read a 2012 profile of the property and about a family of three generations of plantspeople. The garden is no longer open to the public.

Plant Raisers’ Award: Ian Duncalf, former owner of Parva Plants and a former international director of the International Plant Propagators Society, of Te Puna (near Tauranga). His breeding and selection work includes Agapanthus Thunder Storm, Agapanthus Finn, Alstroemeria Rock & Roll, Clivia Barbara, Clivia Deanna, Clivia Lydia, Eucomis Tiny Piny Opal and Eucomis Tiny Piny Ruby. His introductions include Bergenia Marshmallow, Galtonia Moonbeam and Gazania rigens Takatu Red.

Fellows of the RNZIH:
Chris Webb of Thames/Paeroa, a member of many horticultural groups and a member of the RNZIH since 2001.
Malcolm Woolmore of Auckland, a former international director of the International Plant Propagators Society, and founder of Lyndale Custom Mix Ltd (wholesale bulk potting mixes), Lyndale Intellectual Property Ltd (dealing with plant variety rights, PVR) and KiwiFlora Ltd. He has been responsible for the production and distribution of 100 million young plants in New Zealand. Since 2002 he has been a member of the National Pest Plant Accord.
Nicola Rochester, regional sales manager for ICL and actively involved in the RNZIH Education Trust (since 2005) and Young Horticulturalist Competition (since 2003).

Associates of Honour of the RNZIH (limited to 60 people at any one time):
Dr Marion MacKay, senior lecturer in environmental management at Massey University, specialising in plant diversity and conservation. A member of the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust board since 2004 and author of the 2011 book, Plants of Pukeiti Forest. Marion is a founder, and leader, of the NZ Rhododendron ex situ Conservation Project and is a member of the steering committee of the Global Rhododendron Conservation Consortium. In 2013 she was appointed to the NZ Indigenous Flora Seed Bank project. She has been a Fellow of the RNZIH since 1997.
Professor Helen Leach, emeritus professor of anthropology at Otago University, specialising in culinary anthropology and the domestication of food plants. Her most outstanding book (of 22 published) is still 1000 Years of Gardening in New Zealand, published in 1984. She has been a Fellow of the RNZIH since 2004 and in 2018 was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to culinary anthropology. Read a 2016 food profile here.

Social climbers

Climbers are a plant group that are often consigned to the “cover it up” category but can add colour and interest to a garden when other plants may not be doing so well – and are an easy way of camouflaging a plain or not-so-pretty fence or wall.

A climbing rose does a good job of softening and adding some colour to a wall in this Tauranga garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Vigna caracalla (snail bean or snail flower) is a scented, perennial climber that blooms in summer. A member of the legume family, Vigna caracalla grows like a scarlet runner bean (but is entirely ornamental) and will happily drape across other plants if it can reach them.

Vigna caracalla is a perennial climber with sweet-scented flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The unusual curled flowers, which provide the plant’s common name, have a delightful perfume reminiscent of a hyacinth and are followed by bean-like pods. You can try growing your own from these seeds, but they don’t always take. King’s Seeds at Katikati can supply guaranteed seed.

Cut the plant back to ground level when it’s finished and wait for it to shoot back next season.

Tecomanthe (trumpet-vine) climbers are vigorous tropical plants, found naturally from Malaysia to New Zealand, with our one native variety being Tecomanthe speciosa from Three Kings Islands.

Botanists found one specimen in 1946 and all the plants we have today have descended from this plant. It needs a strong support, but has glossy leaves and attractive clusters of creamy tubular flowers in spring.

Te Puna Quarry Park has its pink-flowered New Guinea cousin, Tecomanthe venusta, twining up a pine tree in its orchid area with the flowers lower down on the vine as the climber blooms on old wood.

Tecomanthe venusta at Te Puna Quarry Park. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Clematis, like wisteria (read an earlier post about wisteria here), are a real signifier of spring. Some people find them tricky to grow – I was struggling with ‘ Mrs Cholmondeley’ until advised to bury the neck of the plant deeper and now she performs well for me every year.

Clematis vitacella ‘Kermasina’ seen at Alnwick Castle garden in Northumbria, England. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The entry for Clematis viticella ‘Kermesina’ at Vibrant Earth, a New Zealand wholesaler, reveals that the viticellas are “extremely cold hardy and more wind tolerant than large-flower types” and are resistant to stem-wilt (my problem with ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’). Viticellas tend to be single stemmed and spindly growing in the first year or two.

How about this beauty? Clematis ‘Viennetta’ is a double-flowered variety with a long blooming period period, up to 5 months in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be available in New Zealand.

Clematis ‘Viennetta’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Creepers and climbers can also be positioned to scramble through and across other plants, adding extra seasonal interest – when one plant’s in full swing the other may be less obvious, later reversing positions.

The Scottish flame flower (Tropaeolum speciosum) scrambles across one of the many old yew trees at Levens Hall Gardens in Cumbria, England. The scarlet flowers are followed by blue berries. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The photo above is truly an instance of right place, right plant. In New Zealand Tropaeolum speciosum is known as the Chilean flame flower and considered a weed! Read how to eradicate it here.

Tauranga Orchid Show winners

Not surprisingly Tauranga Orchid Society member Craig Parsons won large for his HUGE Dendrobium nobile that came complete with a section of tree trunk! Craig told the story of this plant in a 2018 post on the Tauranga Orchid Society website. Read it here. Craig’s plant won both the Natalie Simmonds Trophy for Champion Specimen Plant and the Grand Champion title.

Craig Parsons holds the Grand Champion tray, while beside him is the Natalie Simmonds Memorial Trophy for Champion Specimen Plant. Photo: Sandra Simpson
How big is the plant? This shot of it being prepared for its official photo gives some idea. From left, Craig Parsons, Chris Hubbert (Orchid Council of NZ) and Ute Rank. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Reserve Champion was Miltoniopsis Princess Diana ‘Red Baron’, a so-called pansy orchid grown by Hubert Musiers and Tania  Langen (Ninox Orchids) of Whangarei. Photo: Sandra Simpson
The Alec Roy Memorial Cup for Champion Cymbidium went to Cym. Night Jasmine ‘Kannika’ x Devonianum, bred and grown by Andy Price of Whakatane (Hinemoa Orchids). Photo: Sandra Simpson
It’s not often you have the person an orchid was named for and the orchid bearing that name in the same room, but here’s Kannika Price beside the orchid that bears her name. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Champion display: Helen McDonald 1st, Leroy Orchids (Whenuapai) 2nd, Patricia Hutchins (Sunvale Orchids, Gisborne) 3rd. All small displays and all beautifully presented. Great to see Helen and Patricia (both TOS members) do so well.

Orchid show taster

If today’s wet weather put you off from venturing out, here’s a little photo teaser from the Tauranga Orchid Show to tempt you to visit tomorrow or Sunday – open 10am-4pm at Tauranga Racecourse, $3 entry (under-12 free). Champion plants will be chosen tomorrow.

The kokedama (Japanese moss ball) demonstrations at 11am and 2pm have proved popular and lots of happy buyers left with a kokedama orchid. See you there!

Cattleya Fire Magic ‘Solar Flare’ is grown by Diane Hintz of Te Puke. Photo: Sandra Simpson
This member of the Cattleya alliance, shown on the Whangarei Orchid Society stand, has large ‘puffball’ flower heads on long, thin canes. As tall as me! Photo: Sandra Simpson
Sarcochilus weinthalli, grown by Patricia Hutchins of Sunvale Orchids in Gisborne, is an Australian native species. Photo: Sandra Simpson
A Miltoniopsis (pansy orchid) displayed by Ninox Orchids, Whangarei. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Rhyncholaeliocattleya Village Chief North ‘Green Genius’ is grown by Lee and Roy Neale of Leroy Orchids, Auckland. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Tauranga Orchid Show 2019

Our theme this year is Plenty – so plenty of orchids! Please join us at Tauranga Racecourse from October 11-13, 10am-4pm daily. Entry is $3 with under 12s free.

What will you see? Tauranga, Bay of Plenty and Whangarei orchid societies, and Leroy Orchids (Auckland) will all have orchid displays, and the BOP Bromeliad Group will also stage a display. Plants will be available from commercial growers from Whangarei, Auckland, Wairoa, Napier and Whakatane, as well as the Western Bay, and the popular Posy Sales stand is back.

New this year are demonstrations on making kokedama balls (seen right) for orchids – essentially growing orchids in a moss ball, not a pot. These will take place at 11am and 2pm daily.

Our always-popular rolling repotting demonstrations will continue at other times and growing advice will be freely available from members at any time.

Tauranga Orchid Society has a special ‘taster’ membership offer for the show – $12 until April 2020 when a regular sub ($25 single; $35 family) kicks in. It’s cheap enough that we hope you will try out the club to see if it fits.

Our usual great raffles will be on offer, we have a cafe for a refreshing cuppa and there’s plenty of free parking.

The show will be free of single-use plastic bags this year. Our vendors have made a great effort and will have paper bags, cloth bags and multi-use fully recyclable plastic bags. You’re very welcome to bring your own forever bags and boxes for purchases.