The Western Bay of Plenty is a fantastic region for growing … almost anything. We have some specialist growers in the area that are second to none. At the bottom of the page are some growers in neighbouring areas.
Ace Mondo: Established in 2000, this nursery in Pyes Pa specialises in mondo grasses and liriopes. Wholesale only.
Amazing Iris Garden: Wendy Begbie opens her display garden near Katikati from Labour Weekend to early December. The website includes a catalogue of mostly bearded irises and in 2015 incorporated the Louisiana irises formerly grown at Rivendell Nursery.
Peter Berry: His Poike garden was home to a national collection of irises bred by Jean Stevens of Wanganui, active from 1913 until the early 1960s. An article about her work and life, written by an American enthusiast, can be found here. Unfortunately, Peter gave up his collection in about 2014. Peter is still breeding his own irises.
Bruce Burrows: Bruce can often be found in Waihi Beach selling fruit and veges from his van – as well as a selection of grape vines. He collects those grape types that will grow well in the Western Bay of Plenty (go to the end of the article to read about Bruce).
Coast Palms & Cycads: Established by Janine Gray in 2004 – as well as palms and cycads, some quite rare in New Zealand, the nursery near Te Puke also stocks plants suitable for a tropical look.
Colorworx: A wholesale nursery based at Whakamarama. You will know their plants from garden centres.
Copperfield Nurseries: A wholesale nursery based at Te Puna and specialising in citrus trees. Owners Sharon and Grant Tennet opened the nursery in 1976.
Daffodil Acres: After Bill Dijk retired from his “daffodil acre” (actually 4 acres) he and wife Willie moved into offering a mail-order catalogue for all sorts of bulbs but also became deeply involved in hobby breeding of narcissus, including miniatures, and tall bearded iris. He is interested in bulbs of all types, but especially anything rare and unusual. Read more here.
John Dean: A life member of the NZ Tree Crops Association, John established a collection of fig trees on his property near Katikati. Read a 2011 article here. 2018 update: John now lives in Matamata.
Mark Dean: Retired from Naturally Native, the wholesale nursery he founded with wife Esme, at the end of 2011, the same time he won the Loder Cup for services to conservation. Mark has been president of the Dunes Restoration Trust, a national body. Read an interview with Mark about creating a garden at the beach here.
El Jakedo Cactus Garden: In the hills above Papamoa, Kerry Cossey has created a stunning show garden using plants from her nursery. Succulents also for sale. See the Open Gardens page for details. Read an article about the garden here.
Fern Valley Bonsai: Poppie and Adriaan Englebrecht established their bonsai nursery at Whakamarama in 2000, starting with 60 trees they shipped from their native South Africa. They have added some New Zealand natives, including pohutukawa, to their range which all start as field-grown trees. The couple also does bonsai training and clipping demonstrations at events around the country.
Flax: The pioneering flax collecting work of the late Rene Orchiston of Gisborne is being carried on by Julie Sparham at her Te Puna home where she is establishing a pa harakeke (flax plantation). Mrs Orchiston’s collection now forms the basis of the National Flax Collection.
Forevergreen Seedlings: Forevergreen Seedlings has been supplying seedlings and plants all over New Zealand for over 20 years. Kiwifruit seedlings also grown. Mike Riordam’s business is situated in Te Puna.
Glenavon Roses: Te Puna rose-breeder Rob Somerfield has a string of successes behind him – and plenty more coming up. The first rose he released to the market was Blackberry Nip, which proved to be a hit with the buying public and with rosarians, winning three major awards.
Colin Henderson: A former nurseryman who specialised in Australian native plants, Colin still has a large garden filled with his favourite plants and enjoys sharing his knowledge. Read an article about Colin and his garden here.
Herbal Health Clinic Teas: Helen Loe, a medical herbalist, grows her own herbs at her Pyes Pa home and processes them into a range of teas that she mostly sells by mail order. Read a 2017 article here.
Incredible Edibles: The popular garden centre brand has been developed by Fiona and Andrew Boylan at their nursery near Katikati. They work closely with Plant & Food Research in developing new plants. The nursery, which includes an Incredible Edibles stock garden, may be visited by prior arrangement only, phone 552 0331 or email via the website. Read an article about Incredible Edibles here.
Kauri: Omanawa kiwifruit orchardist Graham Dyer has been collecting kauri (Agathis species) seed from around the Pacific for 15 years. He has gifted a collection of trees to Tauranga for the new Sydenham Botanic Park – the only other collection in the world is in The Netherlands. Graham believes it is important for Tauranga to have a collection because this was the natural southern boundary for kauri. Read an article about Graham here.
Kauri Creek: In its heyday, Kauri Creek owned by Joanne and Norm Knight was one of the biggest old-fashioned rose nurseries in the country. They closed that in 2005 and now have “only” about 450 varieties in their rambling garden north of Katikati. Joanne collected the stories in Between the Rows (Liberty Publications, 2008), telling how this country’s leading rose nurseries came into being.
Kings Seeds: Based in the countryside near Katikati, the mail-order and wholesale business owned by Barbara and Gerard Martin is open to the public on Fridays only, 9am-noon (except public holidays). In 2014 it became BioGro certified. Phone 07 549 3409.
Kotare Dahlias: Peter Burrell has been growing and breeding dahlias in his suburban Te Puke garden since first accompanying his wife to a show (as the driver) and getting interested. Using the Kotare prefix for his plants, Peter says his aim is to introduce more colour. Read an article about Peter.
Lennard’s Camellias: Plants bred by the late Trevor Lennard and his daughter Caroll Anderton, who has now retired from breeding and also closed the nursery. Read an article about Trevor Lennard here.
Maori potatoes: Te Hoori Rikirangi gave away organically certified seed potatoes for some years (the article linked to was written by me and appeared in Country News in January 2005 – amazing where things end up) to increase the stock of taewa. The varieties included: Urenika (purple inside and out), huakaroro (white), muimui (pink-and-white skin), paroa (light purple skin, grows bigger than most Maori potatoes), Maori chief (light purple skin with a purple line running through the flesh), wiremu, similar to muimui. However, Te Hoori no longer offers seed potatoes.
Marama Mushrooms: Billy Roy is a Whakamarama mushroom farmer who also sells grow-your-own mushroom blockss
Meadowland Irises: Cris Savage & Phill Stoddard grow tall bearded irises and have nearly 200 named plants, including a limited number of Intermediates. In season they sell the plants. Phone/txt 027 325 5246.
Millhenge Ferns: Lee and Debbie Miller closed their specialist business in 2013. Read more here.
Naturally Native: A wholesale nursery with a well-illustrated online catalogue, as of 2013 owned by Les Anstis. Founded by Mark and Esme Dean (Mark retired at the end of 2011, the same year he was awarded the Loder Cup for services to the environment). See also Mark Dean.
John & Christine Nicholls: The couple opened Tendrils Nursery at Pyes Pa in 1978, running the mail-order business Courier Climbers, from the same site, and writing Climbing Plants (Godwit, 1995). Now retired, they grow 500 climbing plants on posts as a hobby. Read more about the couple here.
Pixie Clivias: Jude Coenen has been breeding clivias for more than a decade. Email Jude.
Plantstruck: Ian Duncalf dabbles in the breeding of many garden plants, but mostly concentrates on clivia. Email Ian or phone 027 694 8714.
Pohutukawas a Plenty: Mostly a wholesale nursery offering rata and pohutukawa, including the rare yellow-flowered variety native to Motiti Island. Read an article about some of their work here. 2022: May no longer be in business.
Rivendell Iris Garden: Stephanie Boot specialised in Louisiana irises. An international iris judge, Stephanie broadened the range of plants available in New Zealand by importing stock from Australia. The garden and nursery closed in 2015 but the plant stock transferred to the Amazing Iris Garden and is available there.
Standards of Excellence: Germany-born Claudia Gorringe has established a topiary nursery on the outskirts of Katikati. Claudia has won awards for her Ellerslie Flower Show stands and developed her own Zen Clips style. The nursery is open by appointment, phone 07 549 0852.
Tauranga Tree Company: Debbie and Keith Travers opened their Te Puna business in 1997 and say they have the largest selection of big trees in the Bay of Plenty. The nursery is open to the public.
Te Puna Plum Nursery: A wholesale nursery started by Brent Tennet (brother to Grant of Copperfield Nurseries) in 2011. Although the main line is plums, the nursery also offers peach and nectarine trees.
Versatile Vireyas: David and Pauline Brown offer an online catalogue and are open to group visits to their Te Puna garden by prior arrangement, phone 07 552 4966. Read an article about the Browns here.
Waihi Waterlily Gardens: The 6ha gardens were established in 1950 and are now under the stewardship of Evan and Rachel Pride. The gardens are apparently no longer open to the public and sales of plants “on hold”. Read a 2013 article about the gardens and their previous owners here.
Wildflower World: A mail-order business developed by Geoff and Liz Brunsden (sold in 2018). They make up specialist mixes for the home gardener, including one to attract butterflies and bees, and a “bulb blanket” to help disguise the messy period when bulb leaves die back. Read an article about Wildflower World and the Brunsdens here.
Cor Schipper: Specialises in carnivorous plants. Read a 2017 article about Cor here.
PlentyFlora: A commercial gerbera-growing operation that uses geothermal power.
Rhodohill Gardens: Mail-order nursery specialising in rhododendrons and azaleas. Display gardens open October and November at 569 Paradise Valley, RD2, Rotorua, phone 07 348 9010. Possibly closed 2021.
Tikitere Gardens: Renowned for Japanese maples, irises and rhododendrons. The 12ha gardens and retail nursery are run by the knowledgeable Bill and Anne Robinson at 104 State Highway 30, RD4, Rotorua 3074, phone 07 345 5036 or email. Admission charge to gardens.
Amore Roses: On the outskirts of Hamilton.
Clandon Daffodils: A 21-acre daffodil farm at Gordonton that sells bulbs and cut flowers.
Fronds: Specialist fern nursery at Cambridge.
Lilies by Blewden: Cut flowers year-round, near Cambridge.
Peter Cave Nursery: The renowned plantsman, after a period of retirement, has opened a nursery of rare and unusual plants at Raglan. 2022 update: The nursery is closed.
Tamata: A wholesale nursery specialising in Japanese maples for export to Britain and Europe. The company worked with Xanthe White on a garden at Chelsea in 2011, winning a silver medal.
Zealong: A 35ha tea plantation at Gordonton that is home to some 1.2 million bushes of tea (Camellia sinenis) all grown organically. Zealong tea is sold in top shops in Paris and Japan and has its own store in Taipei. The plantation includes a Tea House.
In other places
(This section of the list isn’t supposed to be comprehensive, just interesting!)
Wharepuke Subtropical Gardens, Kerikeri: Rare and unusual plants, a sculpture trailm cafe and on-site accommodation.
Russell Fransham Subtropicals, Matapouri Bay, Northland: Display gardens and nursery, plus an online catalogue. Russell, who died suddenly in 2017, was one of the experts in New Zealand when it came to subtropical plants. The nursery is being continued by his partner.
Tawapou Coastal Natives, near Matapouri, Northland: Specialising in plants from Northland and New Zealand’s offshore islands. Open to visit.
Dr Keith Hammett, Auckland: Renowned breeder of dahlias, sweetpeas and clivia.
Dahlia Haven, Dairy Flat, Auckland: Established in 1990, primarily a mail-order business.
Rodger Bodle, Gisborne: Bermuda Palms Banana Research was believed to be the southernmost banana research station in the world. Rodger sold his property in 2015 and moved into town. The garden was home to varieties from Fiji, Samoa, Ecuador, Brazil and Israel, and he also had outdoor plantings of pineapple, coffee and orchids. For more information email Rodger or find him on Facebook.
Edible Garden, Palmerston North: Sarah Frater specialises in heritage fruit varieties for the home garden.
Mark Jury, Taranaki: Mark and his late father Felix are synonymous in New Zealand with the breeding of magnolias (and michelias). Mark’s garden is no longer open to visitors.
Terry Dowdleswell, Wanganui: Delphinium breeder and seller. In 2017 the business was sold to Katrina Hindmarsh who will continue with breeding specialist lines.
Matthews Roses, Wanganui: Now selling by mail-order only, this long-established business has been a byword for roses in New Zealand, and Bob Matthews has bred several award-winning roses including My Mum (named for his mother, Pearl), In Loving Memory, and Tickled Pink.
National Flax Collection, Lincoln: Started by the late Rene Orchiston of Gisborne and now maintained by Landcare Research.
Simmons Paeonies, Christchurch: Paul Simmons is a keen hybridiser of herbaceous paeonies and he and wife Esther have run their nursery since 1986. They sell herbaceous, intersectional and tree paeonies by mail-order.
Paradise Gardens, Ashburton: Home to the New Zealand Dahlia Trial Grounds; mail-order sales.
Windwillow Basketry, Kakanui: Mike Lillian grows his own willows, including some specialised ones, for his weaving.
Clifton Homestead Nursery, Balclutha: Specialises in hellebores (winter roses).
Ti Kouka (cabbage tree) Plantation: 600 trees at Lincoln, Invermay and Auckland.
All words copyright Sandra Simpson