Sunday digest

Pacific Connections is a project being undertaken by the Washington Park Arboretum in America’s Washington state. Phase 2 of the project is being opened on September 15 (kind of today our time) and is a $US1.2 million New Zealand Forest.

The forest, modelled on a South Island mid- to high-country area, covers 0.8ha (2 acres) and expands on the New Zealand High Country Exhibit, dedicated in 1993  which was the arboretum’s first “ecogeographic exhibit”. The Forest includes mountain beech (Nothofagus cliffortioides) and silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii), as well as three open areas – a Phormium (flax) Fen, Hebe Heath, and Griselinia Bush, plus two tussock grasslands. There is a long article about the design of the garden here (pdf format).

The New Zealand Film Festival is doing the rounds and included is a documentary on Sister Loyola Galvin, 90 years old and the main gardener at the Home of Compassion in Wellington. Gardening with Soul (the link includes a trailer) is directed by Jess Feast. Read a review here.

You may recall that Sister Loyola was NZ Gardener’s Gardener of the Year in 2008.

This is the busiest time of the year for mail-order plant companies – and for gardeners there is much joy to be had in reading through the catalogues, even if it’s only to compile a wish-list.

Here are some links that you may find useful:

This isn’t an exhaustive list and nor is it intended to be – these are some I know of or have come across that I thought may be useful. If you want to search by particular plant types, then this website looks pretty good. It also offers an alphabetical list of mail-order nurseries.

Happy reading!

Flowering now

A little while ago I posted a Flowering Now that was coincidentally about red flowers – well, today’s provides the balance with a look at some white flowers.


White Magic hellebore (winter rose). My flowers come on short stems, but there are plenty of them! Photo: Sandra Simpson

And here’s a link to Clifton Homestead Nursery in Otago that specialises in hellebores, a useful plant for part-shaded situations. The large, glossy leaves are there all year and in late winter along come the flowers. The long-stemmed types tend to be nodding but someone told me a few years ago that she grows hers in hanging baskets so she looks up at the flowers. Not a bad idea.


Osmanthus Pearly Gates. Photo: Sandra Simpson

I bought this plant after going for a walk round Looking Glass Garden in the spring – after climbing the Stairway to Heaven with St Peter at the top waiting for us we reckoned we’d earned afternoon tea at Pacifica Garden Centre on the outskirts of Papamoa.

Seeing a plant named Pearly Gates seemed like a big, celestial nudge so we bought it and, as the label said “highly fragrant”, we planted it by the front door. I can’t smell it, but others have told me it has a “sweet, creamy” scent. The label suggested also that it could be used as a “low hedge”, which is an interesting idea.

I’ve tried to photograph my sweet box (Sarcococca ruscifolia) while it’s in flower, but the flowers are very small and I haven’t managed a decent photo yet – I can’t smell that either, yet it’s also supposed to have a pleasant perfume. (Usually I have a good sense of smell so can’t explain this current malfunction.)

My plant is in a tall pot and was badly treated for a time – I moved the pot into a garden bed to fill a temporary hole and promptly forgot about it, leaving it in full sun for the best part of a year. What’s that plant with yellow leaves? Yep, it was an ailing sweet box. I quickly moved it into a shady spot and nutured it for a good while and thankfully it has recovered.

And, finally, my small wildflower patch still has some flowers in it – alyssum is going great guns and there’s also this interesting plant, sweet mignonette (Reseda odorata).


Sweet mignonette. Photo: Sandra Simpson