Clean sweep of rose trials

by Hayden Foulds

Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield has swept the awards at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds in Palmerston North. This is the second year Mr Somerfield has taken all the awards presented, the first was in 2009 and both are the only occasions of a clean sweep taking place in the trials’ 47-year history.

Mr Somerfield was presented with the Gold Star of the South Pacific for Love Bug, the highest scoring rose in the trial. Described as a cardinal red rose with dark glossy foliage and a strong, vigorous growing plant, Love Bug wins Somerfield’s eighth Gold Star and confirms his place as New Zealand’s leading rose breeder.

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Rob Somerfield in the Palmerston North Trial Grounds with his award-winning rose Love Bug. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Certificates of Merit were presented to the pale yellow Night Light, the orange-red Tabasco and the apricot Strawberry Blonde. All of Mr Somerfield’s winning varieties will be released on to the New Zealand market in the next couple of years.

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Strawberry Blonde was one of three Rob Somerfield roses to win a Certificate of Merit. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The New Zealand Rose Society trials test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are assessed over two years by a panel of 20 judges with categories including freedom of flowering, health, plant quality, flower quality and fragrance. This year more than 40 entries were judged.

At the conclusion of each trial, those roses which have gained an average 70% are recognised with awards to reflect the consistently high performance they have achieved during trial – the Gold Star of the South Pacific goes to the highest-scoring rose.


NZFGS 2017: A last look

During my visit to the inaugural NZ Flower and Garden Show earlier this week I got chatting to a chap standing beside a garden and quickly realised it was the site planned by inmates from Paremoremo Prison in Auckland.

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The stepping stones represent the chance of a new beginning, although the ‘jail’ character from Monopoly is watching. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The men, with the help of designer Adam Shuter, had grown the plants (all natives), welded the sculptures, woven 8000m of twine for the lovely seat, and created the striking 3D head sculptures … but the only way they were going to see it was via video. The Corrections Department and NZFGS kindly provided two whanau tickets per inmate so at least family members had the chance to have a look.

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The garden included two Coreten flax sculptures and a stainless steel cabbage tree. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Auckland Prison manager industries David Grear was my informant at ‘Redemption’ and you can read more about the development of the garden here. The use of Monopoly-type posters in the garden was at once both witty and rather sad. As I said to David, I’m never likely to visit a prison, I don’t know what’s available to inmates or how they system runs – the garden was, in a way, the prison coming to me. And I was rather impressed.

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The seat was handmade with the covering woven from 8000m of twine. The three heads in the garden were based on relatives of inmates. Photo: Sandra Simpson

One of the other gardens that gave me great joy was by Kiwi designer Bayley LuuTomes and South African designer Leon Kluge, ‘Trouville: Something Lovely Discovered by Chance’ (they also teamed up to represent New Zealand at the 2016 Singapore Garden Festival, winning Gold and Best in Show for its outdoor lighting.)

The garden won a Gold medal and a Design Excellence award.

This extensive garden had a bit of everything, yet felt a harmonious whole. From soft ‘wildflowers’ planted on parts of the sloping grass sides, to the shipping container-like cabin with its origami-like exterior walls, and the maple-surrounded pool the garden was enchanting. My only criticism is that the pool area could be fully appreciated only from inside the cabin, which was off-limits to the general public but (ahem) not to this member of the media (I do it for you, dear readers)! Follow me in …

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Gaura, salvia and statice, among others, soften the exterior of the site. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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I love the grass growing up and over those beautiful wooden walls. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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More wilderness planting at the front of the cabin, letting us peek inside (well, if you’re already partway up the steps!). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A deck extends over the black-water pool. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Australian designer Christian Jenkins was on the phone when I asked to enter his Balinese-style garden, ‘Nature and Nurture’ so his mum gave me the nod. The bonus about being inside was seeing the reflections in the black-water pool (years ago Ben Hoyle told me he used coffee grounds to create his black water for show gardens). And how great that among the palms he used was our very own nikau palm.

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The judges deliberate – ‘Nature and Nurture’ won a Gold medal. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A ‘floating island’ in each side of the pond added extra interest. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The boardwalk deck was too inviting to resist! Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Reflections in the black-water pond plus a pop of vivid colour from some of the poolside bromeliads. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Go Timandra!

Although she’s been working in floristry for 16 years, Timandra Houltram of Tauranga is still an apprentice, albeit a senior apprentice, and is competing in the five-day Interflora Apprentice Florist of the Year competition at the NZ Flower and Garden Show in Auckland.

Competitors are given 18 different design tasks over the five days – including a bridal bouquet and a Christmas wreath – and work in their own 4m by 4m space. The theme of the floral tent is this country’s multicultural society and the apprentices were able to choose their own backdrop for their stand from a selection provided – Timandra picked a large-scale photo ‘curtain’ that shows a 1950s ship arriving in Auckland, saying she enjoyed the retro vibe it gives her stand.

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Timandra  Houltram in her stand. The hand-tied bouquet was one of the first challenges – the brief was to use a supermarket shopping bag as the base. Photo: Sandra Simpson

“We all have the same materials to work with so it comes down to how we interpret each challenge,” Timandra told me on Tuesday. The florists were able to take their own items to accessorise a tailor’s dummy for which they created a floral skirt but had to judge carefully how much floral material they used on each challenge as their reserves of flowers and foliage were finite.

Working at FreshFlowers in Bethlehem’s Countdown supermarket, Timandra holds NZQA Level 3 in floristry and has previously been Florist of the Year for Fresh Direct. She started her week of competition well, being awarded a NZFGS Silver medal for her stand.

All Day I Dream in Gardens

Ben Hoyle is one of my favourite show garden designers so when I saw his name in the NZ Flower and Garden Show programme I was keen to see what he’d produced for the new Auckland event – and the judges and I agreed that it was pretty darn good.

Ben picked up a Gold medal and a Special Feature Award for ‘All Day I Dream in Gardens’ with its large and striking water feature.

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Ben Hoyle is a perennial garden show favourite with his innovative ideas and attention to detail. Photo: Sandra Simpson

From the Kapiti Coast, Ben and his team moved to west Auckland for a fortnight to create the garden which includes a bure-style seating area, a water feature made from coloured acrylic, a large pond (a black water effect for better reflection), plus plantings large and small – from trees to bedding annuals and a mix of natives and exotics. The pond is faced in Coreten steel but the raised garden beds are finished in the woven hessian you can see to the left of Ben in the photo above.

The detail of the planting is magic. Every so often I realised the flower I was looking at was the same colour as one of the V-shaped pieces of the water feature – orange canna, deep-red sweet william, mauve-blue bedding echium, carmine lychnis, yellow geum …

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Verbascum and bedding echiums. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Ptilotus Joey, an Australian native.  Photo: Sandra Simpson

Ben recently spotted Ptilotus Joey in his local (independent) garden centre and thought it would be the perfect addition so grabbed what they had.

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The sloping side of the bure is covered in tussock while the straight side is clad in large triangular tiles in shades of green. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The bure interior includes kokedama balls. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read more about kokedama in an earlier posting.

Gold medals at NZFGS

A well-deserved Gold medal to Franca Logan of Takapuna in Auckland who has done the most amazing floral installation, really lifts what is otherwise quite a small floral art display – and seems to fill half the tent!

‘Bloom Wherever You Are Planted’ is, according to the programme, about the early Dutch and European migrants to New Zealand who put down roots and brought flowers from their homelands. Franca, who was born in The Netherlands and has more than 25 years’ floral experience, says she couldn’t have done it without a great team of helpers.

The central part of the installation is a loose circle of branches and twigs, while either side is a ‘field’ of flowers tied to stakes. Included are peonies, carnations and roses.

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Part of the huge display by Franca Logan. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Heritage Roses New Zealand won Gold for its Community Gardening display (in the same tent as Floral Fashion). Olga Yuretich, the organisation’s president, was down from Northland to talk to visitors and looking splendid in her outfit.

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Olga Yuretich, president of Heritage Roses NZ. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Happened to be walking past the Balcony Gardens when members of the Auckland Bonsai Society were celebrating their Gold medal with a photo session. One of the members, Moira, is also a member of LoooP Creative, which helped with the display. Read more about LoooP here, plus see a guide to the names and ages of the trees in the display. The group photo was taken by me! After I’d taken the one I wanted, they all handed me their phones.

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Alessandro of the Auckland Bonsai Society celebrates the win. The bonsai balcony garden depicts the skills and interests an immigrant may bring to New Zealand, while using native trees to show how s/he integrates. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Buffie Mawhinney has the distinction of winning two Gold medals, both in the Upcycle Challenge. She won for her own entry, ‘Funk up my Junk’, and also for ‘The Winslow Girls’, working with her mother Christine Mawhinney and her aunt Sue Winslow.

Buffie walks the talk too, working in the Ranui Community Gardens in Auckland and managing a non-profit cafe.

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Buffie Mawhinney with her ‘boudoir’ of growing things – including in op shop shoes, a dressing table, picture frame and hat box. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Detail from Funk up my Junk by Buffie Mawhinney. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The Gold medal entry by Buffie Mawhinney, Christine Mawhinney and Sue Winslow. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The show is on in west Auckland until Sunday.

Best in Show

‘The Beekeeper’s Hobbit Hole’ was last night named Best in Show at the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show, on in Auckland until Sunday, and what a charming garden Hobbiton has created. December 1 update: And the garden has now been named as the winner of the People’s Choice award.

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Brian Massey and Pam Russ take a breather in the garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Not only is there a cottage garden stuffed full of flowers that were today attracting the bees, but there are large fruit trees (planted in buried boxes) and a grass-roofed Hobbit’s hole that looks like the owner has stepped away for a moment. The garden also won the award for Horticultural Excellence, plus a Gold medal in initial judging. Kudos to Pam Russ, head gardener at Hobbiton, who has grown much from seed.

Brian Massey, originally a landscaper, has been in charge of design, drawing on his experience working as greens master for The Lord of the Rings films and art director for The Hobbit trilogy.

The entire thing was built in a dry run at Hobbiton in Matamata and, when everyone was satisfied with it, dismantled and moved to Auckland where it was reassembled on site at the Trusts Arena.

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Detail from the garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The pair have used a J R R Tolkien quote as inspiration: The flowers glowed red and golden, Snapdragons and Sunflowers and Nasturtiums, trailing all over the turf walls and peeping in around the windows. 

I heard a whisper this garden might be destined for Chelsea – I reckon it would wow them.

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The garden comes complete with traditional skep beehives – coils of straw covered in daub. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Gold Medal Garden

Congratulations to the children, teachers and parents of Bellevue School in Tauranga who were involved with the Food Over Fear garden which today won a Gold medal at the new New Zealand Flower and Garden Show in Auckland. The information sign on the stand is signed by Luca Ririnui and Clara Douglas.

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Photo: Sandra Simpson

The garden depicts an abandoned home and garden, choosing the theme to show that even ‘weeds’ can be useful food sources – “even when a place looks foreboding and infertile it could be full of surprises”.

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Photo: Sandra Simpson

There were 8 gardens in the schools section of the competition.

The NZFGS is on at The Trusts Arena (west Auckland) until Sunday.

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Photo: Sandra Simpson