scented evenings

This is night-scented or evening-scented stock growing in a small pot, about 20cm (9″) wide and deep, and when we sit outside in the evening its perfume fills the air. It is an easy annual to grow, Kings and Egmont both sell the seed. I started mine in October, actually in a seed tray and then pricked it out, but I could just as well have sprinkled some seed directly onto the filled pot. It has been flowering and scenting our little outdoor space for more than a month already and looks good for another month at least.


This morning we got busy at the MacLean Street Market, hoping to dispose of all that was left from our year’s activities. A fine sunny day, though rather a cool and windy one. Special congrats to Marilyn, who made the banner so that everybody knows who we are; and to Rhonda, who produced a seemingly endless supply of potted succulents, dozens of varieties, two or more to a pot. Everything sold, so we went home happy, and looking forward to next Friday – the final meeting of the year and Christmas wind-up party.

smelly british natives

A garden visit a few days ago brought back memories of lanes and hedgerows in the south of England, in the form of two plants that grow wild in those places. Both of them, incidentally , with rather smelly leaves. First there was betony, Stachys officinalis, also called bishops wort and well known to herbalists for centuries past. It’s a member of the mint family, a very large family and a lot of them are aromatic in one way or another – pleasantly, like rosemary and thyme, or not so nice, like betony. The second plant was the stinking iris, Iris foetidissima, also called gladwin and roast beef plant. The flowers are small and dull in colour; its real glory comes in winter when the fat seed pods split open and show off their rows of scarlet seeds. So, two North European plants brought here, accidentally or not, by our colonial ancestors, and a reminder to us gardeners: as well as admiring the look of a garden and smelling the flowers, crush a leaf and sniff, you may be surprised!

Evening meeting, 6 november 2020

Rosa Stewart presented an enthralling talk illustrated with a good many photos, covering not only the local birdlife in the Hutt Valley, but also giving an insight into how the weeks of lockdown had affected her and her community. Plenty to think about and well put together. Cheers, Rosa.

And on the competition table: a rose was the well-timed choice for ‘flower of the month’; 21 near-perfect exhibits – well done us.

newsletter 23 september 2020

From Rhonda

Hi everyone Good news for us all…back to covid level one which means our flower show is very likely to go ahead as normal. Your committee is getting organised, so hopefully are you. Please check the categories Julian has written for you.

Thank you all for your advice on wild flower gardens. My seeds arrived yesterday so I mixed them with some Flanders poppies and Marie’s bee mix. It conveniently rained last night so I can’t wait to see what will happen.

I spread them under my avocado tree…the self-planted one that did nothing until we spent a fortune on cultivated ones. The tree is covered in thousands of flowers. I wonder if the bees will oblige because there truly are thousands of flowers. Our lemon tree is still covered in big fat juicy lemons if any-one would like some let me know. I have made marmalade and lemon curd and will start freezing them ready for next winter.

Hopefully the markets and venues will be open this week so we are feeling pretty blessed compared to the state of some countries. See you all soon at Ocean Road on 2nd October, Rhonda Edwards

From Julian – Bare-Root Orchids

I am having a bit of an experiment here. This North-West corner gets no sun, except late in the day during high Summer. Overhead there is a variegated Pittosporum and a Camellia trained as small trees, and the ground beneath is colonised by yellow Canna and purple violets. It seems like a good place to try growing these two cymbidiums with their roots among the plants and leaf-litter on the ground. They are both out of their pots and I’m hoping that the violets will grow all over their roots and act like a growing medium, while the Canna stems shelter them from the wind, especially over Winter. The pink Cymbidium has already spent a year here, albeit in its pot, and is flowering well, so the location must suit it; I hope they are just as happy next Spring!

From Judi

Hi all, What a difference a week makes once spring has arrived. Two of my blue Iris have popped open. Just about every Ajuga blue is standing like a soldier along the borders and a gorgeous pink Azalea has brightened a dark area of the garden.

Last week I showed a couple ofcream blooms had opened on one of my Rhodos but this week, it’s putting on quite a show so now I just can’t wait till the rest catch up and do their flowering as I have pink, purples and red yet to come. Sadly, we all know they only last about three weeks.

In the wheelbarrow (top right) there is a white Bacopa putting on a nice display. I didn’t know it was going to do so well there so it was a bonus after I took it out of it’s small overcrowded pot. it’s good to try different things from time to time.

On the weekend, I cleaned up my kitchen windowsill and used various mini vases and bowls, etc to display some different coloured succulents. I also potted up some for the sales table for the flower show in October. We can all do half a dozen cuttings or so of anything you have spare lying around. Self-sown seedlings popping up are great to lift this time of year – violas, pansies, any vege as well. I have lots of extra perpetual spinach so that’s what I will be doing tomorrow.

Keep smiling everyone, we just got the news we are now back down to Level one so it’s time to celebrate Cheers Judi

From Andrew

I recently wanted some stainless screw eyes for ropes to support vines on my pergola. The ones I considered are about $6 each, but I found these nifty “Q-hangers” in a 12-pack for just under $23 at Mitre10 (under $2 ea). They combine the features of a screw eye and hook.

My vegetables going to seed (Rocket, Kale) around the birdbath have created a nice cottage garden effect. Either side in the background are two dogwood trees. My limes are yellow! Here’s a Tahitian lime, a Yen Ben dwarf lemon and a Bearss dwarf lime. I intend labelling these trees to help future picking. When I cut the limes open they are slightly green, having more segments and thinner skin than lemons. And – yes, they are really bitter!


From Rhonda

Hello Horti people

Here we go again back into lockdown though not so bad this time as we know the ropes.

My garden will benefit hugely as I will have time to do those many little jobs that I have neglected. My spinach and miners lettuce keep us in winter greens and my elephant garlic is flourishing.

We have buds in the fruit trees and the plums are in bloom. My garden surprise this month is the miniature daffodil pictured here with one of my King Alfreds.

I bought three of Merle’s white polyanthus from our market stall and my grandchildren took them and planted them in their garden by their playhouse. The plants are in bloom and look wonderful in the shade and I wish I had purchased heaps more.

Spring is always exciting and we have a wonderful climate here in Kapiti so we do not experience the dramatic transition in the Southern region. I still have a small pot of Cape Gooseberries I have been nurturing for I think it was Jill and some red geranium cuttings Fay brought for someone. I will bring them to the next meeting which is currently on hold until further notice. We will send out weekly updates and keep you posted. People who are not on the internet will be given a phone call if there are any dramatic changes.

Keep safe and hope to see you all again soon

Kind regards ,Rhonda

From Judi

Good morning all. I’m sure many have been out in their gardens with all the glorious sunny days we’ve had. I’ve chosen to move some of my Dahlias back a bit. I gave them a dressing of Blood & Bone and a handful of slow release fertilizer before a layer of pea straw.

The photo attached is a couple of new ones I couldn’t resist. One could never have too many of these beautiful show stoppers. It’s a pity they are never out in time for our Flower Show.

Apart from that, time has been spent tidying up lots of little areas that needed attention. I think I’m starting to feel much fitter because of being back in the garden more so that’s always a plus.

Happy gardening everyone, Judi

From Diana

We had a good meeting at the Afternoon Floral Group on August 7th and the ladies did well with their designs.

The AFG committee have decided that they will hold the afternoon meeting in September, making sure that all the measures required to safely hold the meeting will be put in place For our next competition, it’s BOUNCE INTO SPRING. Our workshop will be a practice for October’s design “THE WITCHING HOUR (HALLOWEEN)”. Any dark container, eg old black pot, artificial pumpkins or real! Scoop out, eyes shaped, small light globe inside, torch, black ornamental cat (real one if you like!) witches, orange\black sweets, orange\black drapes, anything scary, leaves, remember cans of black and orange paint to spray anything.

Any member of the KHS is welcome to attend the afternoon group as your subs cover both afternoon and evening meetings.

From Marilyn

Mum and Dad live in Auckland and we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary with them and leave to come home before that lockdown occurred. Unfortunately I missed our monthly get-together and it sounds as though the speaker was one I would have liked to have caught up with. (I have often thought I would like to try my hand at bee-keeping.

As we didn’t get home until Tuesday last week after a stopover in Tauranga, I was delighted to find that most of my hellebores had used the time since I left to move from bud to full bloom. I never realised how many I had in the garden.

Dutch irises are also opening up and the erlicheer and snowdrops are hanging around so there is colour again in the garden. And while I can’t top Rhonda’s plums in bloom, I do have two blossoms on my dwarf peach tree – despite a week of frosts. Where we are, we seem to lose the effect of the sea-breeze and have had frost most mornings – twice in the last week, we have been down to -2C. Shouldn’t have too many bugs left after this.

I had mentioned that we had revised the Rules for the Society and were intending to hold a Special Meeting at the start of our usual Friday evening meeting. With the uncertainty of the way this Covid resurgence will go, we are waiting for things to come back to normal before proceeding with this.

From the Evening Competition Table

Flower of the month – Pauline Steel with an unnamed daffodil

Best Bloom – Rhonda Edwards with a Tibouchina

Most Unusual – Marie O’Sullivan with a Euphorbia wulfenii flower

Fruit and Veg – Julian Chadwick with a Chinese cabbage ‘Napa Blues’

Well done everyone!


From Rhonda

Hi everyone

The weather has been kinder this last week and we are back in the garden.

Julian has been here advising Frank on pruning and I have planted garlic and more gladiolus, couldn’t resist the new bulbs at Mitre 10.

The king of my garden currently is my miners lettuce which has seeded and spread and we are using in our daily salads.

Our speaker for next week has cancelled for family reasons and has been replaced by Shaun Wakeford the president of the Beekeepers Association who will tell us about our main pollinators without which we and our plants would not exist. He will have honey for sale.

My heavily laden lemon tree is ready for picking, really good crop this year. Our Tamarillo trees have survived the frost but will they fruit?

My photo is one of my many pot plants!

See you all next week

From Judi

Hi all.

I trust everyone been enjoying the glorious sunny days we’ve been having. I had a go at pruning my Feijoa trees -getting way too big for the garden. You will see in the collage picture my pink hellebores finally popped their heads. I remembered what Murray told us last year to get rid of the bigger leaves to make room for the flower because they shoot up from the ground. One of the roses I haven’t pruned yet is called Baby Jack and is still flowering. It’s a little shrublet and puts on a stunning show all through summer – in this case never stopped, so it’s a bonus as not a lot this time of year.

I’m happy with the meyer lemons this year as I have plenty and 3months ago I put half a bag of citrus fertilizer around the dripline. I’ve also been digging up excess dahlia tubers for friends and another garden group but will bring some for the sales table next month. There’s plenty to go round.

Well it’s time to make the church arrangement before Sunday which is now going to be artificial so if anyone does have a couple of spare ruby red or yellow tinge colour flowers not being in use or hiding in the cupboard please let me know – I’d appreciate them. (Medium size length not too tall a stem) Thank you. Keep smiling. See you all Fri 7th August…. Cheers Judi

From Julian

Ileodictyon cibarium – Basket Fungus

This has got to be the most artificial-looking piece of the living world ever, and it just popped up in the garden after a one of those rainy nights earlier this month. Amazing!

Newsletter 17 July 2020

From Rhonda

Hi everyone

So lovely to see you all and an excellent turnout one cold winter’s night. Although it is the middle of winter we are blessed with a benign climate here in Kapiti so we continued with our members display.

Congratulations to all our lucky number winners. Mitre Ten have plenty to tempt them. Cheryl’s talk was wonderfully entertaining. She is one of our most popular speakers and we will make sure we have her back again.

Our next speaker is Naturopath Lucy Page who will tell us about home herbal medicine. We also have tea for you to try.

Our usual competitions will continue so bring your best and brightest. Plant of the month for August is a flower from any bulb or corm, and Judi and Silvey have an orchid in flower for this month’s raffle, kindly donated by Merle Stevenson.

My own garden treasure this month is my Luculia…pink and perfumed…perfect! (Pictured here).

My lovely surprise is a tiny Irish Bell in flower. It was a seedling given to me by Fay Chedzoy that took a while to adapt!

We are planning a group trip to Levin with three stops including a garden statuary visit, a nursery and a food stop. We will be sharing cars. There are more details down in Marilyn’s update. We are planning a bee-friendly evening in October and would love you all pot a bee-friendly plant to sell later on to if you can.

We are also planning to offer to work on a community garden later in the year and one of the plants we were going to theme was pelargonium. If you have one in the garden and can pot a cutting or bring a cutting in a bag to the next meeting for us to pot on, that would be much appreciated.

Lastly, a reminder that we run on a tight budget so do pay your subs either online or to Stephen at our meetings.

Julian will also have more fertilizer for sale and is still offering his tool sharpening services. 

Happy gardening

From Judi

Hi everyone.

If you are like me, you will be enjoying extra flowering time of some of the roses but it’s certainly getting close to that pruning time so I will have to be brutal and chop off those endearing plump buds.

Last week the grandchildren helped me scatter some eggshells around my broccoli and. cauli seedlings and so far we haven’t seen any snails. A lady from the Tawa garden club reminded me I had promised her some dahlia tubers so I’ve been dividing those for her and moving some around the garden so they aren’t too close to my roses. The summer just gone, the dahlias just took over.

Well I look forward to having more time after school goes back to really getting stuck into the garden for my annual winter clean up. Lots to do.

Happy gardening everyone.

From Julian

We are more than half-way through July and I am sure the days last a few minutes longer than they did a month ago; so it is time we got seriously stuck into our winter pruning. My roses (all five of them!) were done a month ago when I revamped the front garden, which leaves me with ten hydrangeas to prune.

These are quite straightforward: just cut off as low as you can about half of the oldest gnarliest stems, and also remove any very thin weak-looking ones. That will leave you with nice strong young stems, most of which will have flowered last summer, don’t worry if you only have three or four. We are usually told to cut these back to two fat buds but half the time they only make one fat bud – so one or two, it makes little difference. Some of the stems will end in a new bud; I cut these back the same as the old flowered ones to “reset” the whole bush. And that’s it, job done; unlike roses there is no need to spray, but a light sprinkle of general fertiliser – you will find some on our sales table ( I have just bought a new supply) if you don’t have any at home – and a layer of mulch on top, and they will be saying thank you all summer long.

Remember we have a garden tool cleaning and sharpening service: secateurs, knives, loppers, hedge-shears, saws; it costs $5 each, just bring them along to the monthly meeting.

And last but not least: if you feel that pruning plants, especially roses, is best left in the too-hard basket, well, you’re not alone, but we are a garden club so ask around at the meetings, there are plenty of experts on hand.

From Marilyn

Wonderful to catch up with you all at the meeting. Looking around, it seemed as though there was a lot of that going on and everyone was delighted to see familiar faces.

I have had the pleasure of the company of my sister-in-law for a couple of weeks. She timed her visit so that she could come to our meeting as she is a keen gardener as well. Although the weather was not the best for her stay we did manage a fine day before she went home. Her keen eye spotted a bulb or two struggling through the weeds in a pot and immediately set to put that to rights. Two bags of potting mix and about 12 pots later, all my pots were tidied and little treasures unearthed. These little hyacinths were in flower but totally hidden. Now all I have to do is wait for the others to flower so that I can identify them all.

Rhonda has mentioned the upcoming trip. The proposed date is Wednesday 16th September so plenty of time to

put it in your calendar. We will leave from the hall at 10.00am and will be carpooling. We are heading up to Yard Art Levin ( where Gary will give us a guided tour and  then leave us to browse through the display centre. From there we will go to Shannon to Bertsbrooke Nurseries which has a wonderful garden to stroll through as well as a nursery for purchases, and then find ourselves a cafe for lunch.  A list will be there at the next meeting for anyone interested to add their name to.

Afternoon Floral Group

The shared lunch to restart the meetings for the Afternoon Floral Group was a real smorgasbord of tasty treats. So many goodies to choose from and great to see so many there. Although there was no competition for the designs, there was a workshop for ‘Beach Gatherings’. This will be the competition for August. The workshop for August will be a practice for ‘BOUNCE INTO SPRING for Horticultural Society Flower Show on 17th. October! Diana’s advice is to use any type\style of container, using Spring Flowers, plenty of colour if possible, birds-nests! branches from blossom tees, vines, lilies, daffs, anything that you consider Springy! Any size. Treat material by soaking thoroughly e.g. overnight, wash leaves gently and good strong mechanics.

newsletter 26 june 2020

From Rhonda

Still in level one and looking forward to our July solstice meeting. 

We experienced a small frost recently but no damage and even had a little group of Jonquils flowering under my Lily of the Valley tree. My Hibiscus is completely disregarding the seasons and continues to flower through the winter.

In fact walking around my garden it would be hard to notice it is winter. Fuchsia, butterfly bush and daisies in full bloom along with a rather large yellow wattle.  My new purchase  this week is a box of swan plants. I love the Monarchs fluttering around and hope to have these plants up and ready for Spring.

From Judi

Hi all. The weather has been really lovely this past week so I’ve found myself in the garden a lot more.. plus it’s a good time to get the broccoli and cauliflower plants in. The week before I prepared the bed with some blood & bone and 2 days ago planted the seedlings with seaweed juice to give them a good start. I also planted some beetroot as the vege punnets were 3 for $9 so an excellent bargain. Other things I’ve been doing is tidying up the many dahlias and loving the dry stalks to help layering the compost..with my other clippings.. lots of leaves, newspaper and vege peelings etc.. can’t wait to spread it all over the garden come spring.

The other pics show some winter colour around the garden.. and a quick trip to Watson’s to pick up some white primulas to edge the garden beds.. Happy gardening everyone. It seems like Spring already.

From Diana

For all the regulars to the Afternoon Floral Group and anyone else who would like to attend, we are finally getting back together on Friday 3rd July but a little earlier than usual. We will be having a Shared Lunch (finger food style) starting at 12.30pm. Lots to catch up on so time will fly and we still want to have time in hand for a workshop with Joy demonstrating some possibilities to prepare for the August Competition. The workshop will be “Beach Gatherings” so on your next trip to the beach, take a bag and collect up all those interesting things you see but can’t think of a use for and therefore have to leave them behind. The recommended container for this style of arrangement is a flat dish or similar. The Sales table and raffle will be up and running, and we will hold the usual Best Blooms and Most Unusual competition. Looking forward to seeing you all there.

From Marilyn

It’s getting close. Next Friday we will finally all get back together. It seems an age since the last gathering and there’s going to be a lot of stories to tell, especially how much gardening you did during lockdown (or not). The others have been bragging about the blooms that grace their gardens, I have to admit that apart from camellias and wild calendulas, there’s not a lot in bloom in my garden. However I now see all the other colours there are in the foliage of the shrubs. There are quite a few flaxes in the garden of various colours and the view I have captured here for you is one I see every morning when having breakfast.

The flax, Jester, seems to have deepened in colour and is looking great. If you look hard at the back on the left there is a little Japanese lantern and – see the concrete fence and ornamental top – these have all come from Yard Art at Levin, where I got the statue recently. The committee members have decided they would like to have a look at this place so we are going to get a minibus and head of up there, and include a visit to RJ’s licorice and the new Mitre 10 which Frank reckons will be a good lunch venue. If anyone is interested in joining us, we haven’t set a date but will discuss further at the meeting on Friday 3rd July.​            

Speaking of which, we will celebrate the Solstice at this meeting with a light supper provided by the Committee which will be served to you individually if you want to indulge, along with the tea and coffee. 

 We will also have the Sales Table and Raffle but will not have our four categories of competition. Instead bring along your exhibits and we will have a combined display.

From Julian

Remember to get your tools sharpened before tackling the winter pruning. Blunt cuts can lead to all sorts of problems. If your tools could do with a touch-up, let me know as all proceeds go to KHS and are producing a nice little stream of income for the club. Give me a ring on 9059578 if you want to take advantage of this.